This Edmonton Journal headline was cause for CUPE workers to celebrate their successful anti-privatization campaign against Bill 37. Alberta Premier Klein told reporters that the radio and newspaper ads run by CUPE and the petitions and mail he received had led to the pulling of the Bill. Thousands of CUPE petition cards had been presented to Klein by the NDP the day before his decision.
“The Klein government’s game plan has been to destroy the public health care system quietly,” said Terry Mutton, CUPE Alberta President. “Our Stop Bill 37 campaign successfully got out the message that private health care only means fraud, higher costs and waste. This time no one was fooled by Klein.”
By itself Bill 37 did not spell the end of public health care. But adding it to the funding cuts, the closure and destruction of public hospitals, the loss of thousands of health care workers, the de-insuring of services and the growth of contracting out of surgical and other services, would have devastated the public system.
The defeat of Bill 37 represents an important victory in CUPE’s Public Works! campaign, but the fight against private hospitals is not over. Klein remains committed to foisting political and financial responsibility for health care onto the public. While the Bill has been withdrawn, Klein wants a committee to find ways to sell private hospitals to Albertans. Stay tuned for the next round.