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SASKATOON – Canadians are sick and tired of the bashing and slashing, and they want a genuine debate about how best to strengthen public health care. That was the clear message delivered to Roy Romanow today by Canada’s largest union.

Now that the premiers and the insurance company directors have had their say on the future of health care, it is time to hear from Canadians,” says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “We want an informed discussion about how best to enhance and protect our health in the future. We will not be boxed-in by the dead-end thinking of free-enterprise promoters like Ralph Klein.”

Following a two-hour meeting with Roy Romanow, chair of the federal commission appointed to review and make recommendations on Canada’s health care system, Darcy said: “It is incredibly frustrating to have this critical debate monopolized by voices promoting privatization as the solution to every challenge we face. There is no case, no logic to say that competition will improve health care. On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that profits increase costs and limit access.

I met with Mr. Romanow to urge him to open up the debate and engage Canadians in a full discussion about our needs and our views on a complete range of options. There are lots of ways we can improve our health care system – but siphoning off precious health care dollars into private profits or shifting the burden of health care onto the sick are not among them.”

Darcy called on Romanow to listen to the voices of those who use health care and work in health care and those who want to ensure there’s a strong public health care system in place for their children, their parents and their neighbours.

While welcoming the statements made by premiers Lorne Calvert and Gary Doer at last week’s premiers’ meeting, Darcy said: “We’ve heard enough from the politicians, pundits and corporate cheerleaders. We look to the Romanow Commission to provide Canadians the opportunity to speak out because we’re convinced given the chance, they’ll tell the federal and provincial governments that markets and medicare don’t mix. Ralph Klein does not speak for the majority of Canadians.”

CUPE represents one half million Canadians, including 150,000 who work in health care.

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Anne McGrath, Assistant to Judy Darcy (613) 294-9326
Sandra Sorensen, CUPE Communications (613) 282-6225