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Edmonton The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), Canadian Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Health Coalition will file a formal challenge in Ottawa against the federal government over its failure to comply with the Canada Health Act.

Provincial leaders for the unions applaud the course of action being pursued at the national level to assist in their opposition to the Alberta government’s push for health care privatization.

This is a question of accountability. We either have a Medicare law or we don’t, says United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) president Heather Smith. UNA is an affiliate of the CFNU. If we don’t, we will see even further erosion of accessibility and universality as provinces like Alberta foster the growth of a parallel for-profit health industry, says Smith.

In their letter to Anne McLellan informing her of the actions the groups say, our efforts, overwhelming public support for a strong public system, and repeated criticisms by the Auditor General have failed to convince you of the need to comply with both the spirit and the letter of the Canada Health Act. Accordingly, we have decided to take the next step, which is to seek a judicial order requiring that you do so.

The legal challenge centers on the federal minister’s failure to adequately monitor, enforce and report to Parliament on compliance with the requirements of the Canada Health Act.

Private for-profit health care is clearly at odds with the principles of the Canada Health Act, says said CUPE Alberta president Yvonne Fast. Privatization is happening right here in the minister’s own back yard and she is turning a blind eye. Now is the time to step up the pressure.

The unions point out that Alan Rock did not step into the for-profit MRI situation in Alberta, until the Friends of Medicare forced him to by publicly pointing him to cases where Albertans were being obliged to pay privately for medically necessary diagnostic services.

Medicare is the most cherished national program in Canada and it also gives employers an economic advantage over other countries. Why would this government abandon its commitment to health as well as the economy? says Don MacNeil, Administrative Vice President, Western Region, CEP.


For information:

Pam Beattie, CUPE Communications (780) 288-1230
Don MacNeill, CEP (780) 984-5289
Heather Smith UNA (780) 940-9974