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National President Judy Darcy met with federal health minister Allan Rock Friday to demand immediate action to prevent private hospitals and stop the spread of two-tier medicine.

“Ralph Klein’s plan for private hospitals has to be stopped,” Darcy told the minister. “If the federal government doesn’t take decisive action, the future health of all Canadians is at risk.”

“We’ll see American corporations setting up hospitals from coast to coast,” said Darcy. “Patient care will suffer, wait times will increase and costs will skyrocket.”

Darcy called on the minister to state clearly that the federal government would withhold funding if Alberta proceeds. If special legislation is required to stop for-profit medicine, the minister should proceed to introduce a bill as soon as Parliament resumes sitting, she said.

Darcy also urged the minister to appoint a special commissioner to examine the Alberta plan and recommend action to stop the privatization of public health care.

CUPE has launched an aggressive campaign in Alberta to oppose Klein’s privatization scheme and is making plans for a national mobilization in defence of public health care.

“We’ve succeeded in the past in fighting back Klein’s plans for two-tier medicine and we’ll fight this latest attack on medicare,” said Darcy. “But our public health system is under attack and the federal government seems paralysed.

“Even the Auditor General has criticized the federal government for sitting by while the principles of the Canada Health Act are violated. We’re telling the minister the time for action is now.”

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