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Don’t be fooled by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Under his government, health care privatization would flourish.

The Conservative platform says they would allow private delivery of health care “options”. Promises of a “wait times guarantee” will funnel patients to private clinics, in Canada or in the United States. They would refuse to increase health care funding, except $50 million a year for a cancer strategy. The Conservatives have no plan to reduce drug costs for Canadians. In fact, they promise faster drug patent approval, which would sacrifice patient safety and mean higher monopoly prices for a longer period.

The Liberals too have a “health care guarantee”, but it carries the same problems as the Conservatives’. Such guarantees encourage the rising use of private clinics even though it will cost more and drain the public system of staff.

The Liberals have had every opportunity to “guarantee” the preservation of our public health care system but they have done nothing. Issuing a few letters of concern to provinces that are letting private clinics grow has done nothing to protect the public system. As well, the Liberals have pledged a “National Pharmaceuticals Strategy” but they have made no commitment to an actual drug plan.

Like the Canadian Health Coalition says, wait time “guarantees” are becoming a “Trojan Horse” for privatization. Private clinics are now posturing as the solution to longer wait times, but other more sensible reforms are what’s needed. These include: primary care reform, improving hospital access by developing public home care and long term care programs, and better management of wait lists.

Only the NDP would stop the further privatization of health care with tough rules to ensure that no federal money is used to support or subsidize private health insurance system. Only the NDP would substantially increase funding for health care and preserve and expand Canada’s public health care system.

They would ensure that the Canada Health Act is monitored and enforced and would help cheaper generic drugs come to market. Their sensible strategy to reduce wait times includes increased funding for long-term care and expanding coverage of home care. Their plan to increase the number of health care workers, particularly nurses and nurse practitioners, shows their commitment to the public system and to upholding our right to health care.

How to make a positive choice in health care this election? Vote NDP.

Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP James Lunney has gotten himself into hot water by publicly advocating selling bulk water from British Columbia.

Lunney said he sees nothing wrong with developing an economy based on exporting fresh water, and Stephen Harper has done nothing to clarify Conservative policy on the matter. (link to http://www.cupe.bc.ca/2982)

Would Canada export bulk water under a Conservative government? We shouldn’t risk finding out. Bulk water exports would impact on the environment in ways we don’t fully understand, and it’s certainly no way to build a sustainable economy.

Besides, the world’s water is precious, and dwindling. It should be safeguarded, not commodified, CUPE and environmental activists said at a recent news conference.

Vancouver Island Water Watch, headed by the CUPE 401 in Nanaimo, demanded Lunney not only retract the statements he made at two all-candidates meetings, but to also do some research into the world’s fresh-water supply, the Nanaimo Daily News reported.

“We don’t believe selling off the public’s water is ethical or acceptable,” said Roger Oakley, chairman of Water Watch and president of CUPE 401.

“His comments regarding the sale of water are more than disturbing,” said Oakley. “We think the Conservative party as a whole has that agenda in mind because (Lunney) said he sees some real business opportunities.”

And under the North American Free Trade Agreement, once we start exporting water we won’t be able to stop.

Stephen Harper’s silence is terrible news for Canada, and for the environment. He must come clean.