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Community and labour leaders gathered in Vancouver today to raise the alarm over the erosion of B.C.’s health care system and to endorse the “Call to Care” - an eight point statement that reinforces Medicare’s values that’s been adopted by more than 150 groups across the country.

And the B.C. Health Coalition predicted that growing public opposition to user fees, privatization and service cuts would force the provincial Liberal government to rethink its approach to health reform.

“The determination of Canadians to have universal access to health care regardless of income or health status has not changed in four decades,” says BCHC co-chair Caryn Duncan. “British Columbians won’t permit Gordon Campbell’s government to dismantle Medicare during his four-year mandate.”

Duncan says the premier should put his extreme agenda for health care on hold and engage British Columbians in a meaningful dialogue on public health care after federal health care commissioner Roy Romanow releases his long-awaited report next month.

End Legislated Poverty’s Lesley Moore says that access to quality health care services is a fundamental right of all British Columbians but fears the destruction of social programs by the Campbell government will undermine health outcomes and increase health costs.

“If a person can’t afford to eat or have a place to live, how can the government expect them to be a healthy, active member of our society?” says Moore.

The B.C. Nurses’ Union’s Debra McPherson agrees that health cuts and privatization are already being felt on health care’s front lines.

“The list of Campbell’s ill-conceived cuts, layoffs and privatization schemes grows everyday, as does the evidence of the risks to patients, clients and residents,” points out McPherson. “B.C.’s nurses and all health workers will continue to work in their communities to defend quality public health care.”

Forty years ago, North America’s first Medicare plan was introduced in Saskatchewan after a 23-day strike by doctors who opposed the program. This week, groups across the country are rededicating themselves to Medicare’s principles in activities coordinated by the Canadian Health Coalition.

The BCHC is a network of organizations and individuals, seniors, women, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, anti-poverty activists, community living activists, health care providers and unions. BCHC advocates for a strengthened public health care system.


Contact: Terrie Hendrickson 604-681-7945