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National President welcomes creation of new communities portfolio

(Ottawa) Paul Moist, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), greeted the federal governments new cabinet today with a warm welcome and a call to keep public services in public hands.

Canadas largest union represents workers in many areas where Prime Minister Paul Martin made key election promises including health care, cities, infrastructure and child care so we will be watching developments very closely, said Moist. Canadians voted for keeping public services out of corporate hands lets hope the Liberals are listening.

CUPE will actively remind the federal ministers of the need to keep key services public, as we work to rebuild strong communities across this country following a decade of cutbacks and privatization.

Public services were a major theme of the last election, with key issues like health care, funding for municipalities, child care and more, all vigorously debated and discussed. Seven out of ten Canadians repudiated the outwardly pro-privatization leanings of Stephen Harpers Conservatives by voting for centre-left and centre-right parties, indicating strong continued support for the central role that public services play in our society.

In health care, Martin pledged over $9 billion in new funding during the election campaign, including $4 billion in money dedicated to a strategy to reduce waiting lists. But Martin did not promise that the money would be spent on public delivery, despite evidence that private care costs more and drains resources from the public system.

Moist encouraged new Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh to reject privatization and so-called public private partnerships (P3s), and expressed hope that the new Minister will not support provincial experimentation read, privatization in health care. Moist recalled former Health Minister Pierre Pettigrews infamous comments just before the election, saying the federal government supports provincial experimentation remarks that Pettigrew was made to retract.

Mr. Dosanjh has the opportunity to affirm the federal governments commitment to public health care in this country by enforcing the Canada Health Act and placing clear conditions on federal health spending. Keep it public, Mr. Dosanjh.

Moist welcomed the creation of the new Ministry of State for Infrastructure and Communities and welcomed the new Minister, John Godfrey, to his post. He urged Mr. Godfrey to reject the P3 model and to instead support communities control of their own institutions.

CUPE looks forward to working with Mr. Godfrey to expand on the ways we can invest in our communities and infrastructure using public money for public ventures under public control, said Moist.

We will continue to warn against using the P3 model for building much needed water services, roads, schools, hospitals and other facilities. P3s lead to higher costs, poorer service and are just a way for corporations to make huge profits guaranteed by taxpayers. Public investment, building and operation wins, hands-down, every time.

The Liberals long-promised pan-Canadian child care program was another major feature of the election campaign, and CUPE will be watching its progress closely under new Minister for Social Development, Ken Dryden, Moist said.

Public, pan-Canadian, affordable quality child care is a 21st Century necessity for working people in this country, concluded Moist. CUPE will work hard to ensure that, this time, the Liberals follow through, and we will do our part to see that such a program is kept public, accessible and well-regulated.


For more information:
Paul Moist, CUPE National President, cell (613) 558-2873
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431