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CALGARY Participants at a lively town hall meeting last night were clear in their determination to stop the spread of privatization in health care, education and other vital public services. The Go Public! town hall was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Calgary is private health cares boom town. Giving the Health Resource Centre the green light as Albertas first private hospital is like handing the owners a license to print money on the backs of poor and sick people. Were here to stop the spread of the deadly privatization virus, says CUPE national president Judy Darcy, who moderated the forum.

People in Calgary are not alone when they say no to Ralph Kleins dangerous plans for Medicare. A for-profit hospital in Calgary has national consequences under trade deals like NAFTA. The majority of Canadians are opposed to privatizing Medicare. They know privatized health care kills, says Darcy.

Community members shared their concerns and solutions with each other and panelists Christine Burdett, Trevor Harrison and Gillian Steward. Participants drew inspiration from the successful community fight to keep Calgarys power in public hands, and a recently scrapped P3 school in Edmonton.

Communities feel the devastating impact of privatization most directly. Theyre also an incredibly powerful force to resist and reverse privatization. CUPE members across Alberta have been on the front lines fighting privatization and winning some great victories, said CUPE Alberta president Yvonne Fast. Most recently, CUPE members in Calgary joined with community activists to keep Calgarys public utility, Enmax, public, said Fast.

Thats the kind of movement our members are committed to building in every city and town across this country, added Darcy.

The forum highlighted CUPEs 2002 Annual Report on Privatization, Cross-Country Sell-Off. The report, which includes a chapter on Calgary, documents the threat that privatization, underfunding and international trade deals pose to community control of services and local democracy. To see an online version of the report, visit cupe.ca/arp2002.

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CUPE is Canadas largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE website for more information cupealberta.ab.ca

For information contact:
Pam Beattie, CUPE Alberta Communications
(780) 288-1230