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71 per cent think contracting out care staff will have negative impact on seniors, 58 per cent oppose privatizing support services, and 65 per cent side with health workers in dispute with Victoria

More than 70 per cent of British Columbians believe that contracting out nursing and personal care in long-term care facilities will have a negative impact on seniors’ care, according to polling numbers commissioned by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

In recent weeks, at least four taxpayer funded long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland and in the Capital Region have given layoff notices to care aides and nurses in preparation for contracting out the work to private nursing agencies.

But according to the Mustel Group telephone poll - conducted earlier this month - only 11 per cent of the B.C. public think such actions will have a positive impact on seniors’ care.

And opposition to the privatization of hospital support services continues to be significant at 58 per cent, up from 56 per cent in April and 18 points higher than in June, 2002.

Support for privatization of support services like housekeeping, laundry and food services is at 34 per cent, unchanged from April and down 11 points since June, 2002.

“The public remains skeptical of government’s privatization policies in health care,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. “And it’s little wonder, given the tendency of Victoria and its health authorities to hatch their plans behind closed doors, without seeking public input.”

The poll also indicates that in the ongoing dispute between health care workers and the provincial government over health privatization, 65 per cent of the public sides with the workers (up from 64 per cent in April) including 38 per cent of B.C. Liberal supporters.

The telephone survey of 503 British Columbians was carried out June 5-12 and is considered accurate to within 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

To view the contents of the poll attached to this release, go to http://www.heu.org/ and select the top item on the yellow sidebar on the right. The table is formatted at the end of the release.