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New Social Impact Bond a betrayal of medicare: OPSEU

Toronto – Ottawa’s plan to use a Social Impact Bond (SIB) to reduce hypertension in Canadians is a betrayal of medicare and a further privatization of the country’s public health care system, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.

“Social Impact Bonds represent a back door for private investors to profit from what should be a public service,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The more Canadians learn about SIBs, the more they will see that they erode our public health care system while stuffing cash into the pockets of private investors.”

On October 28, federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott announced that Ottawa will pay private investors up to $4 million for the upfront costs of a new, three-year, hypertension prevention program. Investors will reap a return of 15 per cent or more if they can show that the 7,000 participants in the program, who are on the verge of developing hypertension, have lowered their risk of acquiring the medical condition. More than one in five Canadians suffer from hypertension.

Philpott said the SIB would be the largest of its kind in the world. The scandal-plagued MaRs Centre for entrepreneurial innovation in Toronto is responsible for lining up investors.

“This plan is an assault on medicare,” said Lucy Morton, chair of OPSEU’s Health Care Divisional Council. “This is not what the founders of medicare had in mind. They sought a universal, publicly-funded health care system, and SIBs undermine that principle.”

In effect, SIBs create a “middle man” for the delivery of public services, OPSEU President Thomas said. He likened them to public-private partnerships, which have needlessly siphoned billions of dollars from public coffers in Ontario to private profits.

“P3s are bad public policy and SIBs are bad public policy,” he said. “They only benefit the wealthy few at the expense of the rest of us.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931