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That way privatization can be stopped in its tracks

Edmonton - The Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing over 8,500 health care workers in Alberta, is demanding that the provincial government open up the books of the Regional Health Authorities to the public before allowing them to privatize public hospital space.

We have both the Capital Health Authority and the Calgary Health Authority claiming that their deficit situation will force them to look at privatization options. Privatization is a dangerous road to go down, said CUPE Alberta president Bruce McLeod. The whole scheme makes no sense. First of all, health regions are claiming a deficit, but previously health regions in deficit were disbanded by the provincial government. Secondly, the Calgary Health Region is currently renting space because of a shortage, said McLeod.

Already, the government has increased health premiums, shrunk the number of health regions, forced a more streamlined bargaining process and threatened the rights of health care workers through Bill 27. With the financial woes of our large health regions surfacing now, it is time for the government to come clean on its long term plans for health care, said McLeod.

Leasing space to for-profit health care providers puts an incredible drain on an already overtaxed health care system, said McLeod. Not only do we think the privatization option is a bad idea, the people of Alberta dont want it, said McLeod. CUPE released a provincial poll in May that illustrated 81 per cent of Albertans do not want private health care in spite of the Mazankowski recommendations for more commercialized medicine.

The Government of Alberta made a public commitment to ensure that any private sector partnerships for new capital funding make sense from both an economic and public policy perspective. Instead they appointed a whos who of real estate development to oversee the process. We are asking them to do better with the public health care system, said McLeod.

The Alberta government seems determined to push private options. We are confident that if the real plans are given public scrutiny they will not go ahead, he said. We have evidence from across the country and across the globe, that shows clearly privatization is bad for public health care and bad for patients. Money is not the only thing at stake.

The protection of public health care is on the line and we are demanding public involvement, said McLeod.

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CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE websites for more information www.cupe.ca and www.cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information contact:
Ron Pilling, Healthcare Coordinator (780) 484-7644 or (780) 910-5979 (cellular)
Bruce McLeod, President CUPE Alberta Division (403) 818-4849 (cellular)