Health care workers in Manitoba are deeply concerned with the Progressive Conservatives’ approach to the province’s health care system. The April 7th announcement outlining the closure of emergency rooms at Concordia, Seven Oaks, and Victoria hospitals, and closing the urgent care centre at Misericordia, could potentially put public safety at risk, and is sending a shock wave of uncertainty amongst the province’s health care workers.

“Closing ERs simply doesn’t make sense,” says Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator. “Manitobans expect access to emergency room services in their communities and closing them will make that access more difficult.”

Closing ERs is only the first step of a misguided approach to health care, leading to speculation on Pallister’s true health care agenda.

In Saskatchewan, health care restructuring resulted in cuts to services, privatized MRIs, and contracted-out laundry services – all of which has resulted in a weaker public health care system.

“Hospitals need more support, not less,” says McAteer. “Today it’s cuts to emergency rooms, what will tomorrow bring?”

Already the provincial government has determined to cancel important health care infrastructure throughout Manitoba, and has stalled negotiations with the federal government on a renewed funding agreement for Manitoba.

“We are deeply concerned that this is only the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to Pallister’s radical approach to health care,” says McAteer. “Canadians value a public, accessible, and universal health care system, and carving it into pieces is simply wrong.”

“Pallister promised to protect front line services, and now we see emergency rooms and urgent care departments being shut down,” said McAteer. “This is not protection, it is a broken promise.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 643,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 25,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.