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More than 12,000 health care jobs next on Campbells chopping block HEU

An unprecedented loss of front-line health care workers and the services they deliver are next up on Victorias chopping block, the Hospital Employees Union has learned.

B.C.s health care system will lose between 8,000 and 9,000 full-time equivalent positions province-wide over the next 14 months as a result of the Liberal governments budget freeze, a senior health care executive admitted during a meeting with health care workers in Nelson.

HEUs secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says that these FTE numbers translate into between 12,000 and 14,000 lost positions system-wide.

The magnitude of these cuts to front-line health services is shocking, says Allnutt. Thats like closing hospitals in Prince George, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Terrace and Cranbrook in addition to the Cancer Agency and B.C. Childrens.

Some cuts dont heal and we already have one of the leanest hospital sectors in the country, adds Allnutt. But this government is determined to cut into the bone and the system will be permanently damaged as a result. Mass privatization wont be far behind.

Allnutt says that provisions of health unions existing collective agreements protect and safeguard health services for British Columbians.

It would be impossible to slash services to this magnitude without gutting employment security, seniority, contracting out and other contract provisions, says Allnutt. And I think British Columbians are about to discover just how hollow the premiers promises to protect health care and respect contracts really are.

HEU members are committed to protecting public health care from these cuts. Our local activists are working hard in communities across B.C. to forge local coalitions and build a peoples opposition to the Campbell agenda, says Allnutt.

HEU has called an emergency meeting of its local leadership from across the province on February 9 to finalize the unions response to the health services cuts, job losses and expected contract breaking.