OTTAWA – Paul Martin’s budget misses the boat in its prescription for security, according to the head of Canada’s largest union.
“Martin still doesn’t get it,” says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “He’s found a billion of dollars to speed the line-ups at our borders, but nothing to speed the line-ups in our health care system. Canadians are clear. Public health care is their top priority.”
Darcy says recent polls confirm health care has returned to its place as Canadians’ top concern after being bumped by security concerns in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy. She also points out that Canadians know public services are central to creating economic and social security.
“Now more than ever, Canadians are looking to the public sector to guarantee their right to health and security,” says Darcy. “Instead Martin has served up a patronage budget, with lots of opportunities for leadership candidates and their corporate cronies to profit. For Canadians’ real concerns, nothing but scraps.”
Darcy recognizes the government’s investments in airport and airline security, a move that CUPE, which represents flight attendants across the country, has advocated. But she’s critical of the narrow vision of security that’s reflected in the budget.
“Economic stimulus isn’t just about pumping money into the private sector. It’s also about strengthening the basic human services that improve our quality of life and attract investment – quality health care and education, child care and housing.”
Pointing to the huge surplus the federal government has amassed, Darcy argues for a major increase to the Canada Health and Social Transfer and funding for public systems to assure safe drinking water.
“It’s ironic that on International Human Rights Day, we have a budget that ignores Canadian’s most basic rights – to health care, clean water and social security,” she concludes.
For further information, contact:
Sandra Sorensen, CUPE Communications
(613) 237-1590 ext. 268 (o)
(416) 712-1161 (cell.)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications
(416) 738-4329 (cell.)