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REGINA: The Saskatchewan division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling the Saskatchewan Party's admission today that it will consider contracting out health care support jobs if it forms government reckless and ideologically driven.

At a news conference earlier today, Saskatchewan Party health critic Rod Gantefoer said if his party wins the provincial election it would look at contracting out housekeeping, dietary and other health care support jobs in order to “refocus” funding to other health care expenditures.

“The work performed by health support workers is absolutely critical to the delivery of good health care,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “These workers provide nutritious food and clean laundry and ensure that operating rooms are sterile. Patient health will suffer if health care dollars are diverted into corporate profits.”

“Cutting corners with health support services would be disastrous, since housekeeping and cleaning staff are the front line defense against viruses, infections and other life-threatening organisms,” said Graham. He also said contracting out would drive down the wages of health workers, mainly women, leading to increased turnover.

Graham accused the Saskatchewan Party of trying to import a made-in-B.C. model of health care privatization. Gord Campbell's Liberal government stripped health support workers of job security and contracting out protection. B.C. health authorities have since replaced hundreds of housekeeping, food services, laundry and security staff with private contractors.

According to a recent poll commissioned by B.C.'s Hospital Employees' Union, seven out of every ten British Columbians reject claims by the province's health authorities that they can maintain high quality services while contracting out thousands of existing staff.

“The Saskatchewan Party talks a good game about supporting publicly-funded and administered health care and the Canada Health Act, but talk is cheap. We need a health system that's public from top to bottom. You can't maintain quality while abandoning the delivery of key services to corporations that will make their profits on the backs of poorly paid, inexperienced workers.”

CUPE represents 24,000 public sector workers in Saskatchewan, including over 12,000 health service providers in five major classification areas: clerical, technical, nursing, support and plant operations.
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For more information contact:
Tom Graham 306 229-8171