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Montra006c, January 26, 2004 The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) vigorously contests the conclusions of a survey made public today by the Institut c006fnomique de Montra006c, according to which Quebecers would be in favour of a parallel private health system. However, all the independent studies carried out over the past few years have revealed that, on the contrary, the population is very conscious of the value of our public health system and wants our governments to ensure it is properly funded.

CUPE points out that the Institut c006fnomique de Montra006c (IDEM) is a fervent supporter of privatization and dismantling of public services. In fact, in October 2003, the Coalition Solidarit 0053ant 0070ublicly denounced the close ties between the liberal party in Qub0065c and IDEM and asked that the Institute be recognized for what it is: not a charity organization but a lobbyist for private companies.

The IDEM survey does little to hide its intentions. Respondents were asked whether they would agree that access to care be accelerated for those able to pay, while the current free and universal health system was maintained. We are well aware that a parallel private system, designed only for the rich, could not be introduced without critically amputating the public system. Who are they trying to fool?

We cannot create a parallel sector while maintaining what is already in place for all citizens. Its impossible. A private system would drain important resources from the public network. Where would the private system find its physicians, nurses, specialists? In the public system, of course! We would find ourselves with one system for the rich and even longer waiting lists for everyone else in a whittled down public system, said Marcel Girard, President of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS).

Other Canadian provinces have attempted similar experiences, but without success. For example, in Alberta, adding private care benefited only for the wealthiest citizens. The poor and middle class now face overcrowded emergency rooms and long waiting lists. In the United States, the private health system is a costly affair for the entire country. Families pay thousands of dollars each year for private insurance plans and close to 35 million people have no insurance at all. The population of Qub0065c made other choices, calling for a free and universal public health system: a network accessible to all, which does not favour the rich, and omits no-one.

CUPE also said that, in its exhaustive study of our health system, the Romanow Commission concluded that recourse to private care was not a solution. On the contrary, the Commission considered that major reinvestments must be made in our public network to ensure quality care for all. Our public network has suffered too many reforms, cuts and retirement buy-outs. The governments lack of commitment has had a direct effect on patients. We can no longer waste time, adding to our top heavy management, we must reinvest, modernize our equipment and facilities and build on direct service providers, concluded Marcel Girard.

CUPE represents some 20,000 members in health and social services in Qub0065c and is also active in 10 other sectors including education, municipalities, urban and air transportation, provincial corporations and public organizations, hydroelectricity and communications. With close to 100,000 members in Qub0065c, it is the largest FTQ affiliate.

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