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The CUPE Health Care Council wants the NDP leadership candidates to articulate their vision for health care in the province, stating the views of the would-be-Premiers may prove more important than Commissioner Ken Fykes in determining the future direction of health care.

Theres tremendous concern about the expansion of private-for-profit health care in Saskatchewan, says CUPE Health Care President Steve Foley. Private health care services not only undermine our public health care system, they shift the cost onto the individual and away from the tax system. Thats not the direction we should be going, he stated.

In 1992, the average Saskatchewan family paid $864 out-of-pocket for health care services. By 1996, Statistics Canada data shows the amount had increased by 25.2% to $1,082.

Foley says in 1999 private spending on health care in Saskatchewan comprised 25.9% of health expenditures, a trend he described as disturbing.

Clearly there is cause for concern, especially in community health where private home care and nursing companies are charging for services that should be delivered through our public health care system, Mr. Foley said.

A report on the CBC news yesterday that the Victorian Order of Nurses is prepared to fill the home care gaps by recruiting volunteers to deliver rural home care services demonstrates the need for strong political leadership on this issue, he said.

Weve been patching the problems for years, by allowing private companies and volunteer agencies to fill the gaps in health care services. Our union wants to know which candidates are prepared to fix the problems, by rebuilding our public health care system.

Although the Fyke Commission has decided not to release it report until after the NDP convention, CUPE says the NDP leadership candidates should be talking about their plans for health care in Saskatchewan.

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For more information call Steve Foley at the CUPE Regina Office 525-5874 ext: 227