“The third way is about two-tiered medicine,” Moist said. “If you drain off the best and brightest doctors, technicians and professionals, the wait times go up.”
Moist also praised those who fought back a bid to privatize local water resources. “City council received a proposal from a corporation that wanted to design, build and operate a new treatment plant, and they said no, they want taxpayers to retain control and ownership over their water resources.”
Earlier in the day, he and others toured a water treatment plant run by CUPE 1505 municipal workers, who supply clean, public water to the 73,000 residents.
CUPE Alberta president D’Arcy Lanovaz also took aim at Klein’s third way. Quoting a report by Hewett Associates, Lanovaz noted that 59 per cent of businesses surveyed said they would not pay for private health insurance should the Alberta government implements its new scheme.
“If we believe in strong communities, we believe in a strong, public health care system, where doctors look at your illness instead of your credit rating,” he said. “Workers have children in schools that need teaching assistants. Workers have parents in assisted living facilities that need nursing attendants. Those are the things that make communities strong.”
Lanovaz also attacked the Klein government for not helping communities stay strong. “We have a $7 billion surplus,” he said. “But schools, hospitals, cities - all have staff shortages. Is Ralph raising wages to attract and retain workers? No.”
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason pounded the Klein government on several fronts for its misguided priorities, as expressed in the recent provincial budget. “A week after the Calgary Board of Education closed Marlboro school because the roof collapsed; the Tory government gives a $63 million subsidy to the horse racing industry,”
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan praised CUPE for its involvement and support of the Alberta Friends of Medicare campaign to defeat the third way proposals. “If you can buy your way to the front of the line of health care, then there is no public health care,” McGowan said.
National secretary-treasurer Claude Genereux reported that “our funds are healthy, and we can do the things we need to do to protect our members and build strong communities. “And that is why we need a strong financial base, so that we can take on tough battles.”
Delegates also heard from journalist Mark Lisac on the myth of western alienation, Council of Canadians representative Susan Howett on the threat to our water resources, and candidates in the March 25 division elections, 18 of which won executive positions.
For full convention coverage go to alberta.cupe.ca.