OTTAWA – In his first speech from the throne, Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to pledge that his Conservatives will become more accountable and pay more attention to what Canadians are telling them, says CUPE.
“The Conservatives talk a lot about being accountable but they are not listening to Canadians when it comes to critical issues such as child care and health care,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“During the federal election campaign, Harper talked endlessly about openness and accountability, but once in power those things went out the window – he’s ignoring Canadians,” Moist added.
Many are asking for a universal child care program – about 30,000 people have signed an open letter, www.buildchildcare.ca, to Prime Minister Harper asking for a program – but the Conservatives aren’t listening. They are offering only meager income support.
“Parents won’t get what they need with the taxable allowance,” Moist said. “It will never be a replacement for an affordable, quality child care program. We need the program and strong income support.”
And federal Health Minister Tony Clement has shirked his responsibility to uphold the Canada Health Act by standing by as various provinces move towards privatization.
“Alberta plans to openly violate the act. Quebec is pushing private clinics and insurance. Ontario is encouraging contracting out and open bidding. And British Columbia is talking about altering the act,” Moist said. “All the while, Health Minister Clement stands by and watches, leaving Canadians wondering if the minister will step up and enforce the Act in an accountable way.”
“Clearly, the Harper Conservatives are closing the doors of government to the very people who elected them,” Moist said. “They have an opportunity in this speech from the throne to shift to a more accountable approach and reverse their arrogant trend of pressing ahead with changes that will undermine both health care and child care.”
CUPE is Canada’s largest union, with 540,000 members providing public services in communities across the country, including health care, child care, municipal services and more.