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Edmonton The Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing 31,000 public sector workers across the province, reacted strongly today to the leaked information regarding the governments plans for health care reform.

What we have heard through the media makes very little sense and I certainly hope the reports are not accurate, said CUPE Alberta president Yvonne Fast. For example, if the objective is to prevent illness one would not contemplate tax breaks for people who stay away from the health care system. And, if we want to keep costs down there would be no talk of more contracting-out, she said.

The tax incentive for staying away from the health care system could prove more costly in the long run as people avoid early diagnosis and treatment, predicts Fast. And, we know from examples across the country, contracting-out does not save any money, unless there is a drastic reduction in quality and service, she added.

Support services such as laundry, housekeeping and food services are often the first to be handed over to the private sector. However, the private sector cannot provide these services at a lower cost without compromising quality, said Fast.

Reports in the media indicate the government will urge caution to the Regional Health Authorities considering contracting-out because of the impact it might have on employee morale.

While this is true it misses the real issue, says Fast. CUPE members working in health care facilities across this province provide excellent service and at a lower cost. What is really affecting morale is the constant state of uncertainty in the health care system because the government is also looking at changes to the labour code, bargaining certificates, regional health authority boundaries in addition to this overhaul of the delivery of services, she said.

The government should be looking at all the evidence and waiting for the recommendations of the Romanow Commission rather than rush headlong into a ill-conceived plan, concluded Fast.


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 website for more information cupealberta.ab.ca

For further information:
Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)
Yvonne Fast, CUPE Alberta President
(780) 484-7644