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The health care deal struck by Canadas first ministers leaves the door wide open to private, for-profit care. In fact, the threat of privatization was never publicly addressed during the three-day meeting a fact that is striking, given three Qub0065c doctors very public announcement that they were leaving the public system to provide for-profit services. The doctors appear to have the provincial governments support.

While the deal provides stable, long-term funding for health care, it doesnt attach any conditions to the money. That gives provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario the green light to continue to privatize health services and build P3 hospitals. The deal doesnt hold the provinces accountable for health spending. Accountability measures could have helped expose the truth: private health care costs more, doesnt cut wait times, and provides poor-quality care.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who didnt bother to attend most of the meeting, has reiterated his plans to forge ahead with more private care. Klein now says he will unveil a series of reforms after a provincial election expected this November. Interestingly, Prime Minister Paul Martin had nothing to say about this latest announcement.

Martin found in Klein a convenient target during the federal election. Martin cast himself as the defender of medicare, arguing that Klein and the federal Conservatives were plotting major privatization. The Liberal governments silence now speaks volumes.

You can read CUPEs analysis of the first ministers deal on the web at: www.cupe.ca/www/HealthCareMedicare/A_10year_plan_to_strength