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The first leg of a CUPE national tour begins today, as expert Steve Davies travels across Canada to raise awareness about the importance of cleaning and other support services in combating health care associated infections such as MRSA, VRE and C. difficile.

Health care associated infections are the fourth-leading cause of death in Canada, with an annual infection rate of 220,000, resulting in 8,500-12,000 deaths each year.

Davies is a senior research fellow at Cardiff University in Wales. He has worked with government bodies, parliamentary authorities, employers and unions, and contributed to the Romanow Commission in 2001.

The tour will focus on the connection between cleaning and health care associated infections, and how patient safety is compromised when health care cleaning is contracted out or short staffed.

Davies will describe what health officials in the United Kingdom have done to contain the spread of deadly infections such as C. difficile, MRSA and VRE in health care facilities. In contrast, he will explain how Canadian governments are going down the wrong path with overcrowding, understaffing, and contracting out of cleaning services.

Public meetings will be held at the following locations:

May 12 - Regina, SK
Ramada Hotel, 1818 Victoria Avenue
7:30 pm
May 13 - Calgary, AB
Radisson Hotel, 2120 16th Avenue NE,
7:00 pm
May 19 - Moncton, NB
Holiday Inn Express, 2515 Mountain Road,
7:00 pm
May 20 - Charlottetown, PEI
Delta Prince Edward, 18 Queen Street,
May 21 - Halifax, NS
Citadel Hotel, 1960 Brunswick Street,
7:30 pm