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(OTTAWA) Disturbed that the federal government has failed to recognize the depth of the crisis facing our health care system, Canadas largest union is stepping up pressure on the Liberals to take decisive action to save Medicare.

Across the country, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees are calling on Liberal MPs to wake up and demand the government provide a significant increase in sustained funding for health care.

MPs cant sit back and hide behind a short term, quick fix of cash,” said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “They know the system is seriously under-funded. They know there are more seniors each day who cant get the care they need.”

“Were calling for a caucus revolt,” said Darcy. “Liberals call themselves the saviours of Medicare. Well, lets see some action.”

“Yesterdays budget showed Paul Martin hasnt had to wait for a hospital bed lately,” said Darcy. “The money hes earmarked for health care wont alleviate the current crisis, much less strengthen Medicare for the future.”

Finance Minister Martins budget provided a one-time contribution of $2.5 billion for health care, replacing less than 1/10th of the $25 billion that has been cut from federal transfers to the provinces over the last five years.

CUPE is concerned that as the federal government continues to starve health care, there is increased pressure to privatize, creating a two-tier health system that would deny quality care to most Canadians.

“With the flames of privatization licking at our hospitals, this budget pours gasoline on that fire,” said Darcy. “Continuing to under-fund health care hands Ralph Klein and Mike Harris a made-in-Ottawa excuse for the further selloff of our health system to American corporations. Its shameful.”

CUPE is Canadas largest union, representing 475,000 women and men including 140,000 health care workers. For CUPEs full budget analysis, and background on the unions campaign to save Medicare, visit www.cupe.ca.

For more information, contact:
Catherine Louli, CUPE Communications
(613) 237-1590 ext. 268 or (613) 851-0547 (cell)

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