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BRANDONMore than 300 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees meet in Brandon this week to discuss bargaining and building solidarity at the unions 37th convention which begins tomorrow.

Convention highlights include a visit from Premier Gary Doer and CUPEs National President Judy Darcy. Darcy, who will speak Friday morning, has been sounding alarm bells about Ralph Kleins plans to set up private hospitals under Bill 11.

CUPE has released legal opinions confirming that the Alberta Bill threatens Medicare by opening the door to NAFTA challenges and corporations seeking inroads to Canadas health care. Last week the Alberta government went public with its own legal advice.

“Albertas legal opinion on NAFTA implications says a lot of nothing,” Darcy said. “When you cut through the legal spin, theres little in the decision to reassure Canadians that American corporations wont push to end our NAFTA reservations around health which are Medicares lifeline.”

CUPE Manitoba President Paul Moist says CUPE is building solidarity and working with the new NDP government to strengthen Medicare and counter the Alberta threat.

“Albertas gambling with the future of health care in this country,” Moist said. “We support the provinces putting pressure on Health Minister Allan Rock to defend Medicare and restore proper Federal funding.”

Tomorrow at Noon, a report produced by CUPEs members who work with the elderly in Manitobas long-term care homes will be made public at a news conference. The report, titled “For the love of it”, documents critical shortcomings in our provinces public and private nursing homes.

CUPE is Canadas largest union representing 480,000 women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE has 23,000 members who work in health care, emergency services, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, and utilities.

For more information, contact:

Paul Moist, President CUPE Manitoba

Cell: (204) 981-2873

Doreen Meyer, CUPE Communications

Keystone Centre, Brandon (204) 726-3500

Lakeview Hotel, Brandon (204) 728-1880