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Watch the HEU TV ad “The Record” at heu.org/heu1.mpg (requires software that can play .mpg files such as Windows Media Player or Real One Player which can be downloaded at forms.real.com)

Privatization, it’s the wrong answer for patients is the message in a major television advertising campaign being launched today by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) to fight the Campbell government’s scheme to contract-out thousands of jobs of health care workers who provide important support services in facilities across B.C.

At a media conference in Vancouver this afternoon, the union previewed the first of two spots, which hits the airwaves starting tonight. Called The Record, it takes a hard look at the blemished track records of corporations in the hunt to cash in on Premier Campbell’s health care privatization sweepstakes.

“Mr. Campbell’s rush to privatize hospital services has already had some disturbing results,” warns the ad in reference to the recent hiring by Children’s and Women’s Hospital of a cleaning company with links to a prominent anti-abortionist.

The union has purchased $500,000 worth of air time for the TV campaign which runs for five of the next eight weeks. The spots will also air on Chinese and Indo Canadian programming.

HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt says that the Campbell government will soon launch its own multi-million dollar ad campaign to counteract mounting public opposition to health care cuts. “We obviously don’t have resources on the same scale as government,” Allnutt says. “But this is a significant investment for our union to defend quality health care services and the skills and expertise that our members who are targeted for privatization bring to the job.

“Support workers - mostly women - may work out of the public spotlight,” says Allnutt, “but they’re critical to ensuring patient health and safety, and the efficient operation of health care facilities.

“But Campbell and the private corporations intent on cashing in on privatization will replace these skilled and experienced workers and reduce wages to as low as $8 an hour. And that won’t improve patient care.”

Judy Darcy, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says that the records of companies depicted in the ad is scandalous. “But the bigger scandal here is the actions of the Campbell government which has moved further and faster than any other government in Canada to disrupt and destroy public health care,” she says.

B.C. Nurses’ Union president Debra McPherson says Registered Nurses are also opposed to privatizing support workers’ jobs. “Nurses know this will not improve patient care - it will make it worse,” she says.

“This is a budget-cutting exercise and has nothing to do with better patient care. It will lead to fewer and less experienced support staff and that will mean nurses will be forced to do more non-nursing duties, taking us away from caring for our patients.”

The total budget for the campaign is $750,000. HEU is working with the Vancouver ad agency NOW Communications on the campaign. Allnutt says HEU has received important financial support from CUPE for the campaign.

A special website, www.betterideas.heu.org has also been set up, where, Allnutt says, in the coming weeks his union will be posting better ideas and alternatives to the Liberals’ extreme health care agenda.

Stephen Howard, communications director
604-240-8524 (cell)