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Victoria, employers urged to reconsider in best interests of patients

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says it’s deeply disappointed that government and health employers have cancelled face-to-face talks set for Feb.14 aimed at finding alternatives to privatization and contracting out less than 72 hours after employers agreed to do so.

“It doesn’t make sense,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt, “and we urge officials in the Campbell government and health care administrators to reconsider the move in order to head off the kind of chaos and confrontation that’s characterized the past year.

“This decision is a real setback for our health care system and for all British Columbians,” says Allnutt, who learned about the cancelled talks from the media Friday morning. “Our health care system is at a crossroads, and we think it’s critical that we work together to chart a new, less confrontational approach.

“Are employers and the Liberal government interested in working together to achieve solutions?” he asks. “Our union certainly is, but it looks like employers and government may not be.”

Allnutt says he’s disturbed that top health care brass have relied on improper characterizations of events during last Tuesday’s political protest undertaken by HEU members to mark the first anniversary of Bill 29 - the government legislation that broke the union’s legally binding contract. “We’re asking our lawyers to review the statements of health boss Lynda Cranston,” Allnutt says. He points out that health authorities publicly downplayed the impacts of the protest on patient care last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the HEU spokesperson says his union would be holding emergency meetings in communities across the province starting next week to talk with members about the cancellation of talks and the need to plan creative actions to put more pressure on government and employers for negotiated solutions.


Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director at
604-240-8524 (cell)