KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) –
Eight good jobs will be lost to Nova Scotia on June 1st when the administration of provincial publicly insured dental programs moves to Ontario.
Green Shield Canada was selected through a public tender issued in December 2015. The current service provider, Quickcard Solutions Inc, was the only other bidder.
Unlike Quickcard, which maintained an office in Bedford, Nova Scotia, for the last 16 years, Green Shield will conduct its business entirely in Ontario.
“We only found out in late April that we were no longer going to be the administrator. Our last day is May 31st,” one of the Quickcard employees tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.
“Everything about it was done so quietly. Nobody said anything about it. Just that one little press release that you really have to look for,” she says. “Why is it being hidden? Why aren’t Nova Scotians allowed to know?”
The government argues that the winning bid was less costly.
“The new vendor was selected through a competitive RFP (Request for Proposals) process and along with providing enhanced services to plan members, will save the province between $700,000 to $900,000 over life of the contract (three years),” writes departmental spokesperson Tony Kiritsis in an emailed response to questions by the Nova Scotia Advocate.
Whether the jobs were located in Nova Scotia or elsewhere was not a consideration in terms of evaluating the bids.
But the loss of jobs comes at a cost, the soon to be unemployed Quickcard workers counter.
Workers estimate the total loss in annual wages between $350,000 and $450,000. They emphasize that these were good-paying jobs, and included medical, health and (of course) dental benefits.
“We all live in Bedford or Sackvile,” says another employee. “They took these jobs away from us, but that same government just gave RBC $22 million in payroll rebates to create jobs.”
Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, when contacted by the Nova Scotia Advocate, makes a similar point.
“One has to wonder why the government isn’t standing up to keep jobs in our province,” writes Cavanagh.
“It is also troubling to see that in other provinces where these sorts of things get into private hands double billing and such happen all too often at a huge cost to taxpayers. We question if McNeil’s math on this one will add up,” says Cavanagh.
Meanwhile, the workers are not confident that the Ontario company will be able to offer the same expertise and prompt service dental offices in Nova Scotia had gotten used to.
“The dental offices are going to have a hard time with it,” one Quickcard employee predicts. “We have these long relationships with our clients. Some have been here as long as 16 years.”
“We clock out at 4:30 PM on May 31, and we’re done. That’s when the story will really begin, we believe. Unfortunately we’re walking off into the sunset, but there is going to be a lot of noise after we leave.”