Alberta Politics

gary mar’s unfortunate timing. public-private partnership evicts 29 veterans and seniors.

Charwell Colonel Belcher Eviction Notice
29 veterans and seniors are being evicted by Chartwell Real Estate.

Only days after it was revealed that 29 veterans and seniors are being evicted from the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Seniors Residence at Colonel Belcher in Calgary, PC leadership candidate Gary Mar reaffirmed his support for more P3s in health care.

The private company Chartwell Real Estate owns the Colonel Belcher and is responsible for the decision to evict the veterans and seniors living in the designated assisted living wing of the facility. Chief Operating Officer Richard Noonan told Calgary Herald that his company intends to upgrade the soon to be vacated suites so they would be available to rent privately for more money.

“The profitability of that community will probably improve after we make a significant investment and reposition the suites.” “We’ll be able to charge whatever the market can bear.”

The Colonel Belcher was created in the early 2000s through a P3 financial arrangement between the private company Apex and Carewest (which was then a wholly owned subsidiary of the Calgary Health Authority, and now Alberta Health Services).

The provincial government donated 26 acres of land for the complex and the Calgary Health Authority committed $20 million in capital costs while Apex was their private partner. The facility was later sold to Chartwell Real Estate, which also inherited the sixty year lease of the land which the facility sits on. Mr. Mar was the Minister of Health & Wellness when the P3 funding arrangement Colonel Belcher P3 was being developed.

When asked about P3s and the Colonel Belcher, Dr. Tom Noseworthy, co-director of the Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health, told the CBC that:

‘I have had experience with private-public partnerships. You get what you want now; you pay the price later’

Mr. Mar’s untimely position in favour of more private sector involvement in Alberta’s public health care system is reminiscent of a position taken by Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, who defended the privately-operated Health Resources Centre as it slid into bankruptcy in 2010.

Ms. Smith, who’s party recently reaffirmed their position in favour of increased private health care, was a strident defender of the flagship private surgical facility, which only survived as long as it did through generous public financial investments by the now-defunct Calgary Health Authority and its status as a preferred destination to send stable patients (leaving higher cost and less medically stable surgery patients in the public system).

8 replies on “gary mar’s unfortunate timing. public-private partnership evicts 29 veterans and seniors.”

How about P3 essay topics for all the Party’s leadership candidates? Bad form to let Mar have all the glory presented by this opportunity to educate re free market mechanisms.

1. Discuss: Can the invisible hand deliver a free lunch?

2. Explore the intersection of Rawls’ distributive justice and commercial real estate law: The public pays the piper, allows the invisible hand to call the tune, and/or set the closing time because at the margin, Grandma has other choices.

3. Compare/Contrast/Elaborate the concept of internal vs external consistency of best practices under Party ideology, late Klein period: a) Landlord rule is Alberta’s best practice for granny and gramps; with b) Tarsands and other resource royalties are best set by the rule of highest bidder serves the greatest good.

Well, you wouldn’t want a handful of uncomfortable facts getting the way of a well founded ideological platform would you?

I find it interesting that all of these P3 boondoggles arose out of Calgary, and predate the abolition of the old regional health authorities. The Calgary RHA had a real hard-on for P3s; not only HRC and the Col. Belcher, but cataract surgery and cardiac rehabilitation (the Cardiac Wellness Institute) are all privatized in Alberta’s largest city. In Edmonton and most of the smaller cities, most public health care services are delivered by, you guessed it, the public sector.

However, we are now seeing creeping privatization elsewhere in the province. In the Grande Prairie area, for example, virtually all of the publicly-operated nursing home beds in Mackenzie Place (the long-term care wing of the QE II regional hospital) are slated to be closed as the residents are transferred to newly constructed private facilities, Points West Living and the new Grande Prairie Care Centre. A couple of years ago, the same thing happened in McLennan: the long-term care wing of the Sacred Heart Hospital was closed and the residents moved into the private Manoir du Lac.

Privatization by stealth? You betcha.

[…] Premier Redford’s speech covered a wide range of pre-election issues including balancing the provincial budget by 2013-2014, eradicating the provincial debt, and supporting the construction of an oil pipeline through British Columbia to the Pacific coast. Some media outlets reported that her speech also included the continued commitment towards building more than 1,000 continuing care beds, but failed to mention that they would be constructed through public-private partnerships (P3s) and remove the caps on costs for seniors housing (visions of the Chartwell Colonel Belcher come to mind). […]

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