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Roy Romanow says our health care system needs remodeling. But it will take the strong support of CUPE members to keep the privateers and the chain-saw swinging premiers at bay.

With the release of his interim report on the future of our health care system, Romanow invited Canadians to join in the debate. Over the next three months, the commission will be holding public hearings in 18 communities. And CUPE will be there.

Divisions and locals are being encouraged to make presentations to the hearings, demonstrating there are lots of ways to strengthen Medicare, but privatization isn’t one of them.

We welcome a debate about ways to improve public health care to ensure all Canadians get the care they need when they need it,” says CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “We have lots of positive suggestions for making the system more cost effective by reforming primary care, bringing home care into the public system and controlling drug costs.”

But we’re determined that this debate be based on facts and not the propaganda of the privatizers and their cheerleaders,” she says. “We challenge the privateers to provide some evidence that increased for-profit services will improve the health of Canadians or the quality of care. We’ve looked at the experience in Canada and around the world and we don’t buy it.”

CUPE is concerned that for the past several months the health care debate has been dominated by premiers committed to privatization, along with people linked to the private health insurance industry and other pundits with a right-wing agenda.

The same people who promised you trickle-down economics are now pushing trickle-down health care,” says Darcy. “They want you to think that if the rich get better care we’ll all be better off because we’ll be able to cut waiting lists. That’s just not the case. In fact, the evidence is clear that when doctors work in both the public and private sectors, the lines are longer.”

Darcy points to a study conducted by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy that found waits for cataract surgery were longer for patients of doctors working in both the public and private spheres than for doctors working solely in the public system.