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The Campbell Liberals’ extreme agenda of health care privatization and increased user fees is putting the care all British Columbians receive at risk, says Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians.

“Profit is not the cure to the pressures faced by Medicare,” says Barlow. “And the federal and B.C. governments are complicit in an all-out assault on Canada’s most treasured social program.”

Barlow, who is shadowing the Romanow Commission hearings into the future of health care, says bold solutions are needed to protect and improve Medicare.

“As Canadians, we must build upon the original Medicare experiment by making health care more comprehensive by covering home care, long-term care, dental care and pharmacare in its coverage,” adds Barlow. “We need real primary care reform and a ban on extra-billing, user fees, hospital privatization.”

Barlow joined the B.C. Health Coalition and B.C. Federation of Labour at a downtown press conference today outside the Romanow Commission’s Vancouver hearings.

“Our premier has been a willing handmaid to corporate interests who are lining up to make a quick buck off health care,” says BCHC co-chair Lorna Gunn. “And as a senior who helped build Medicare in this province,

’m offended by this government’s move to shift the costs of medical services and drugs onto individuals and their families.”

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair called for an immediate moratorium on health care privatization in B.C.

“We learned last week that the Campbell Liberals are prepared to embark on full scale health care privatization even though their own numbers tell them it’ll cost more,” says Sinclair. “Services will be reduced and hospitals will close, but private health contractors - many whom may be Liberal campaign contributors - will fare very well.”

“Our best hope for Medicare is public pressure,” says Barlow. “Canadians fought for Medicare, and we’ll fight to keep it.”

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Contact: Tara Scurr, Council of Canadians, 604-880-8473