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Analysis

KPMG Given ‘Open-Ended’ Contract At Undisclosed Price To Assist Completion Of Winnipeg Healthcare Overhaul, Critics Say

KPMG said it doesn't discuss 'client matters'

Documents obtained by PressProgress suggest Manitoba’s government made new arrangements with KPMG to “ensure” its healthcare overhaul  — that’s seen rising wait times, closed emergency departments and staffing crises in Winnipeg — continues at Seven Oaks, at an undisclosed cost.

Back in 2016, the Progressive Conservative government promised to utilize outside expertise, chiefly KPMG , to find “efficiencies” in Manitoba’s healthcare system.  The overhaul that’s followed most-notably meant closing three emergency rooms in Winnipeg and a staffing crisis.

A report on the overhaul, commissioned by the government, found: “Workload and staffing instability in the nursing workforce are significant and not sustainable. ” That report recommended an “immediate pause” to phase II of the overhaul, noting “nurses are afraid to go to work.”

The Manitoba Nurses Union noted, last week, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority “is still reeling from the impact of consolidation; nurses are working record amounts of overtime due to high vacancy rates and increased workload.”

But there are few signs the overhaul is paused.

An agreement, obtained by PressProgress, to “provide professional services” for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s “Phase II project manager” was seemingly signed by KPMG on July 17.

The agreement reads the contractor, KPMG, will serve as the lead to help “complete the planned consolidation changes for Seven Oakes General Hospital” (sic) and to help establish an “accountability framework.”

A confidentiality agreement was seemingly inked between the company and Shared Health on the same day.

On July 22, Seven Oaks had its emergency department closed in what was slammed as a “rush job.”

The agreement lays out a timeframe for KPMG service for three months, until October 17, 2019.

But, it reads: “WRHA may require an additional 9 months of support for a total of 12 months.”

The opposition claimed that clause suggests this is an “open-ended” contract.

Asked about this, a spokesperson for the ministry told PressProgress “we will not be responding,” and referred questions to the WRHA — which did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Representatives of KPMG declined PressProgress’ requests for comment saying “Consistent with our professional standards, and to maintain third party independence, KPMG’s policy is to decline comment on client matters.”

MNU president Darlene Jackson told PressProgress “For over two years, Manitoba’s nurses have been voicing concerns about health care cuts and closures in the WRHA, including the conversion of Seven Oaks ER to Urgent Care. They feel their concerns have been ignored, and this is another reason why. ”

“Time and again, the Pallister government insisted they were listening to frontline workers, but in reality they were really only listen to high-priced consultants that tell them what they want to hear,” Jackson said.

Manitoba Health Coalition director Brianne Goertzen told PressProgress “When a government relies on a private corporation to evaluate a public good, the result is a cost-cutting exercise with little mind paid to the value of our pubic, universal system and the Manitobans who utilize it.”

The total compensation paid to KPMG is not disclosed in the agreement.

 

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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