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OTTAWA While federal and provincial governments dispute what’s in the health accord they signed yesterday, it appears the only people pleased with the deal are the corporations that want to profit from health care, said Canada’s largest union.

“The territories walked away from the deal. The provinces say they’re not satisfied. Patients and health care workers have good reason to worry. It seems the only people celebrating are the corporations who look to this deal to inject new cash to bolster their bottom line,” said Judy Darcy, the National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“This agreement makes a mockery of the Romanow report and the strongly held views of the thousands of Canadians who appeared before him,” said Darcy. “There’s nothing of substance on accountability and not a word about protecting our health care system from privatization.”

The agreement worked out between the federal and provincial governments will increase federal spending to 16 per cent from 14 per cent of total spending. But that falls far short of the 25 per cent target that is needed to strengthen and modernize Medicare.

“The first ministers cherry picked through the Romanow recommendations, while ignoring his two central conclusions: we need greater accountability, and for-profit care will not improve the health of Canadians,” said Darcy. “It seems the federal government held a hard line on funding and caved completely on accountability. And it’s clear both levels of government were happy to duck the privatization question.”

A Pollara poll commissioned by CUPE shows that Canadians don’t have any confidence in the current standards of accountability by the federal and provincial governments. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) think governments are doing a poor or very poor job of accounting for the use of their health dollars.

An equal number (77 per cent) believe that public health dollars should go exclusively to public, not-for-profit care.

“It’s the gaping hole in the agreement,” said Darcy. “A hole large enough for Ralph Klein and Gordon Campbell and Ernie Eves and Bernard Lord to drive a truck through. In an eight-page accord, there’s not a single mention of curbing the growth of for-profit services, yet the greatest threat to the sustainability of our health care system is growing profit-taking.”

The areas targeted for expansion provide a huge opportunity for corporations to tap into an assured stream of public funding even though for-profit services cost more and increase health risks.

“Diagnostic services, pharmaceuticals and home care are all seen by private companies as opportunities to make huge profits,” said Darcy. “And there’s nothing in this accord that will prevent the privatizing premiers from taking the money and handing it over to their corporate cronies.”


For details of the Pollara poll, click here

For further information, contact:
Kaj Hasselriis, CUPE Communications,
(613) 798-6925
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications,
(613) 795-4977 or (613) 237-1590 ext 264