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Premier Gordon Campbells relentless drive to dismantle and privatize public health care targets the jobs of tens of thousands of BC women. The Liberal governments privatization scheme attacks women in their homes and communities.

As health care workers piece together the outline of Campbells cuts concealed in secret documents leaked to the public the extent of the devastation becomes clear. The Campbell Liberals plan to axe nearly 28,000 health care jobs more than 85 per cent of them held by women while increasing surgery wait lists and shifting $500 million in health care costs onto the shoulders of BC families, forcing the sick and elderly to pay for the governments tax cuts.

The government plans to carry out the most extreme health care privatization scheme in Canadian history at the expense of working women, their families and their communities, says Chris Allnutt, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU), CUPEs BC health services division.

HEU uncovered secret budget documents showing 20,000 health jobs will be terminated over the next year as part of a scheme to privatize $700 million in patient care and support services. These leaked government documents reveal the estimated ’savings’ of $70 million over three years will actually cost $163 million in termination expenses.

In addition, under the Liberal scheme a further 7,500 jobs will disappear from clinical and support services as a result of cutbacks over the next three years.

Some of those workers may be rehired into privatized jobs, but at wages up to 30 per cent lower, erasing decades of struggle for pay equity. Communities across the province will take a direct hit the economic impact of wage cuts alone could top $150 million a year. Cuts to provincial prescription drug programs, combined with already-announced cuts in health coverage will shift $500 million in new costs onto the kitchen tables of individuals and families, further impacting local economies. And local business will suffer as they lose out to corporate contractors who buy their supplies outside the province or country, and export their profits.

Experience shows workloads will increase in the privatized jobs as well as remaining public health care jobs further increasing the stress on front-line health care workers. Already, understaffing has led to the highest injury rates for any industry in the province.

Privatizing health care services will also create more unpaid work for women. As services disappear or become inaccessible, caring will get shunted back into individual homes further increasing the double burden many women already shoulder. Women count on public health care as patients (especially seniors) and as primary caregivers for children and sick family members.

Campbells attack on working women runs roughshod over their enormous community contributions. Women provide economic security for their families, and care for aging relatives while building decent lives for their children.

This has nothing to do with economics or better patient care, says Allnutt. It has everything to do with moving public health care dollars into corporate coffers.