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June 1, 2000

OTTAWA Canadas largest union has a plan to strengthen and improve Medicare and most Canadians agree with it, according to an Ekos poll released today as CUPE leaders meet to plan the next steps in a campaign to save Medicare.

“We took our vision of a better Medicare to Canadians and theyve given it a resounding thumbs up,” said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “Canadians dont want private, two-tier health care. They want more beds and more staff in a reformed public system.”

The CUPE-commissioned Ekos poll shows 74 per cent of Canadians agree with CUPEs call for more hospital beds and more health care workers in hospitals. Expanded home and community care is a priority for 57 per cent of Canadians.

Health promotion and prevention, increased use of new technology, a national pharmacare program and public access to information about the health care system all part of CUPEs plan also have significant support among Canadians.

“Federal and provincial ministers are playing games with public health care,” said Darcy. “The feds say they want reforms. The provinces say they want money. Well Canadians want both. They want a strong public health care system, without for-profit services or user fees.”

CUPE watched closely as provincial and territorial health ministers met this week, and it is pressing ministers to commit to an open and transparent process to strengthen public health care.

“We agree wholeheartedly that increased funding is vital to health cares survival. But lets be clear about where that money should go. Innovation and adaptation cannot become code words for privatization and delisting. We simply wont let that happen,” said Darcy.

Armed with confirmation of broadly based public support, the CUPE leaders are finalizing plans for a nation-wide health care Day of Warning on June 14. The day, which will sound the alarm about health care privatization, is being organized with Canadas three other health care unions, collectively representing 370,000 front-line health care workers.

“Across the country, our members are on health cares front lines, said Darcy. “Were all on Medicare Alert.”

The Ekos poll was conducted May 23 to 26 and took a national random sample of 1,204 interviews. The results are valid to within +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

To view details of CUPEs campaign to save Medicare, visit www.cupe.ca

 To download the executive summary of the poll, click here