As the Prime Minister and premiers met in Ottawa Tuesday to discuss increasing federal health transfers to the provinces and territories, CUPE joined community and labour allies for a rally to protect public health care on the doorstep of Parliament Hill.

After three years weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and after decades of chronic underfunding, Canada’s health care system needs a major infusion of federal dollars to recover and keep pace with a growing and aging population. However, rather than strengthening public health care in the wake of the pandemic, many right-wing governments across Canada are exploiting the crisis in health care to further their longstanding agenda of privatization.

“All across Canada, instead of fixing health care, right-wing premiers and their billionaire buddies have been playing a game of ‘we break it, they buy it’ with our public health care system,” CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock told the crowd. “But I have a message today for all those premiers who want to privatize and sell off our public health care: not a damn chance!”

The federal government has offered a deal to inject over $46 billion over the next 10 years in new funding to support primary care as well as long-term care and mental health care. However, the funding is conditional on the provinces and territories committing that none of the funding will be diverted to other programs outside health care, and that provinces and territories will not reduce their own current health care contributions.

CUPE believes the federal government must insist on even more stringent conditions to ensure new funding is only spent on strengthening the public health care system – and not making the current problems worse by allowing for runaway privatization of health care that is already underway in many provinces, including most recently in Doug Ford’s Ontario and other.

CUPE represents 190,000 workers in the health care sector across Canada, including workers in hospitals, long-term care, and emergency response.