I felt a need to respond to the May 11 letter to the Editor “What other public services and goods will Smith privatize?”
If you are a taxpayer, you are paying for health care and other publicly provided services.
If you are not a taxpayer, you benefit from efficient and effective provision of healthcare and other services.
Let quality of service and cost drive the decisions on the provision of these and other services. We all need to challenge our ideologies to ensure we are supporting the best outcomes.
Some appear to argue that profit in the provision of these services is bad. If the same or better level of service can be provided by a for-profit entity at the same or lower cost, then we all benefit. If there is a profit, taxes will be paid contributing to the funding of our healthcare and other tax-funded services.
Having had the same healthcare service provided by a for-profit entity and in a totally public setting, based on that experience, for that service I would always select ‘for profit’. Both services were paid for 100 per cent by Alberta Health. The public setting had an out-of-pocket cost to me for parking. The for-profit had no additional costs to me. Time requirement was considerably less in the for-profit setting and much more efficient check in process, less moving from one area to another, less waiting. The for-profit environment was also more pleasant and staff as/or more pleasant than the public setting.
Profit is not a bad word. Profit driven entities look to provide the service as efficiently and effectively as possible. Where there is choice, even between branches of a single entity, they will strive for customer satisfaction. If they are successful in achieving a profit, they contribute back to the system through taxes.
It is more difficult to encourage efficiency and customer service in a public entity.
I have confidence in Albertans’ ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive. Let’s capitalize on these skills where it makes sense. It benefits all Albertans. On the downside, discouraging or preventing this behaviour risks we lose these skills, and the tax dollars associated with the profit they generate, to other jurisdictions.