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With more than 170,000 CUPE members working in health services, CUPE is a leader in Canada advocating public funding and delivery of health care and must lead a cross-country campaign to fight a coordinated and emboldened push to privatize health care, said CUPE health sector members attending Sunday’s sectoral convention meeting.

Responding to a report from the CUPE National Health Care Issues Committee, CUPE health sector members embraced a militant and ambitious two-year action plan calling for CUPE National to:

  • Allocate extensive resources to a Canada-wide campaign for publicly funded, administered and delivered health system, governed by the principles of the Canada Health Act.
  • Resist health privatization in all areas of the system and in any form it may take including funding models, delivery, infrastructure and administration.
  • Fight all P3 health projects and demand a public infrastructure fund to build and redevelop facilities.
  • Lobby for a pharmacare program.
  • Support efforts in long-term care and home care to advance non-profits to achieve legislated minimum standards of care including staffing levels and service quality.

Across Canada the erosion of public health care has been ongoing for the last decade, said meeting delegates. They pointed the finger squarely on successive federal and provincial governments pushing health system privatization through legislation, under funding and contracting out.

Regardless of where you live in Canada health service staffing levels, have been reduced by 40 per cent and beds by 30 per cent as provincial governments under resources health budgets, said Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) President Michael Hurley.

The British Columbia (B.C) government has a policy that any health facility costing over $20 million will be built as a P3.The federal government has set aside $13 billion to funnel into P3 hospital projects, added Hurley.

A B.C. health care worker and a member of HEU said that at one publicly funded but privately operated long-term care facility in her province workers have been fired three separate times and brought back at lower wages three times.

While in Nova Scotia health care workers still have the right to strike, the provincial government is positioning to take that right away through legislation being tabled this November.

But Natalie Mehra, the director of the Ontario Health Coalition told the gathering that the “news isn’t all bad. In Ontario there have been successes pushing back privatization.  

“Less services are being privatized under Ontario’s P3 hospital projects. Private diagnostic imaging clinics and Ontario’s only private cancer centre have been brought back under the public system. All this has been possible because CUPE has waged and led key fights and campaigns to protect public health care.”