Canadian pensions bankrolling elder abuse and misappropriation of public money by French long-term care multinational
It’s a story that hasn’t yet really broken on this side of the Atlantic. But it’s a big scandal in France, known in Québec, and it is now working its way into the news cycle in English language media in Canada.
There has been a flood of shocking allegations of abuse and neglect, backed by testimonies from residents, families, and workers which has turned the spotlight onto Europe’s largest for-profit care home company, ORPEA.
What is not widely known is that Orpea is 15 per cent owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which also holds two seats on Orpea’s board of directors.
According to Reuters news service the French government is considering filing a criminal complaint against ORPEA.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a member of the Canadian Health Coalition, is demanding Canadian pension funds stop bankrolling suffering and abuse in the long-term care sector.
CUPE believes this is just more evidence that it’s time to end profiteering in long-term care.
“We refuse to accept that the neglect of our parents and grandparents and loved ones is simply the cost of doing business, and we know this problem doesn’t get fixed until we take out the profit motive and make long-term care public,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock.
According to their web site, “Orpea Group is a leading global player operating in 23 countries. All over the world, it provides care for vulnerable people through a large network of more than 1,100 medical facilities, living residences and home care services.”
At the same it was facing allegations of understaffing, diverting public funds and rationing food and sanitary items, ORPEA, was using shell companies to expand its European property portfolio, according to a report by France’s biggest unions, the Congrès générale du travail (CGT) and the Conféderation française démocratique du travail (CFDT), and the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) called “Caring for People or Profit? The Financial Engineering and Real Estate Investment of Groupe Orpea”.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), another member of the Canadian Health Coalition, supports the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR).
Hancock notes this isn’t the only disreputable long-term care operator being bankrolled by Canadian pension funds.
The federal government of Canada, through the crown corporation Public Sector Pension Investment Board, is also the sole owner of Revera Inc. – and therefore the owner of Canada’s second-largest chain of for-profit long-term care facilities.
In 2020, it was revealed that Revera, Canada’s second-largest private long-term care provider, was wholly owned by the Public Service Pension plan, and was recording nearly twice as many COVID-19 fatalities as the sector average, while notching enormous profits and aggressively avoiding paying its taxes.
“Clearly, we’re not talking about one bad apple.”
“Long-term care residents have suffered untold harm and neglect during the pandemic because of cost-cutting by multinational corporations who only care about profit,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick. “It is unthinkable that Canadians are unknowingly financing this abuse by having our retirement income invested in these cruel schemes.”