Privatization wrong option

Dear editor:
Please allow me the opportunity to write an open letter to the district politicians and individuals on the Rainycrest board of directors.
I am deeply distressed to think that the Rainycrest board of directors, as reported in last Wednesday’s Fort Frances Times, is considering the privatization of Rainycrest Home for the Aged.
In the comments by Coun. Neil Kabel, I get the sense that there is some political backing from the Fort Frances council, as well as from others in the district, to pursue the single option of handing the management of Rainycrest over to a private firm—Extendicare.
How anybody on the board can believe that privatizing Rainycrest would be a good thing for the people of this district is beyond me.
Privatized, Rainycrest would need to generate profits for the stockholders of Extendicare—its only reason for being. For that to happen, Extendicare would have to either reduce operating expenses by laying off staff, thereby reducing the quality of care now being provided to the residents, or incorporate “efficiencies” that somehow have not been discovered or addressed by the present Rainycrest management team.
The other option for generating profits is for Extendicare to increase revenues by making the residents pay more for their stay at Rainycrest.
Rainycrest is not a hotel. The people living there do not have practical options for housing available to them and, therefore, are vulnerable to the whims of the management.
I am not sure if the Rainycrest board has taken the opportunity to learn about the people living at Rainycrest. Whether or not the residents, or their families, voted for the politicians and directors on the board, these people are their constituents and as their constituents, the board of directors is obligated to watch out for, and to work towards, the well-being of each resident.
To ask anybody at Rainycrest to accept less in the way of care or service, so that some company can make a profit, is irresponsible and bordering on negligence. To ask the residents to pay more, for profit, and with no increase in service or care, again would be irresponsible and negligent.
If the board of directors were to learn about the people living at Rainycrest, they likely would find that in addition to paying to live in the facility, these same individuals still are financing the maintenance of a home where their spouse still resides.
In addition to covering Rainycrest costs and home costs, the spouse still at home is having to cope with having their loved one living apart from them. . . at the same time as they are dealing with the deterioration in the health of that person.
Not only that, but the spouse still at home is likely to also be coping with their own health problems and those related to aging.
The point raised earlier bears repeating. How the board of directors can expect the people of the district to go along with having Rainycrest privatized is beyond me.
For the family of my father and other families of those living at Rainycrest, the question the board of directors is really asking is, “We want to compromise the care your loved one is getting at Rainycrest so that a for-profit management team will operate the facility . . . will you let us do that?”
My answer to the board of directors is “No!”
The board does not have a mandate to decide that my father, and the other residents at Rainycrest, should have their care and well-being compromised for whatever reason.
For the board to even think that it should be considering the privatization option seriously is irresponsible. Finally, for the board to think that it will be able to make the decision to privatize, without some kind of backlash, is short-sighted.
Thank you for allowing me to raise these concerns to the families of those living at Rainycrest, and to the families of those who will be living there in the future.
Signed,
Mark Kowalchuk
Fort Frances, Ont.

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