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OTTAWA There are lots of ways to strengthen Medicare, but increased privatization isnt one of them, says Canadas largest union.

We challenge the privateers to provide some evidence that increased for-profit services will improve the health of Canadians or the quality of care, says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Weve looked at the experience in Canada and around the world and we dont buy it.

CUPE is concerned that for the past several months the health care debate has been dominated by premiers committed to privatization, along with people linked to the private health insurance industry and other pundits with a right-wing agenda.

The same people who promised you trickle-down economics are now pushing trickle-down health care, says Darcy. They want you to think that if the rich get better care well all be better off because well be able to cut waiting lists. Thats just not the case. In fact, the evidence is clear that when doctors work in both the public and private sectors, the lines are longer.

Darcy points to a study conducted by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy that found waits for cataract surgery were longer for patients of doctors working in both the public and private spheres than for doctors working solely in the public system.

Commenting on the release today of the interim report of the Romanow Commission, established to recommend reforms to Canadas health care system, Darcy says: We welcome a debate about ways to improve public health care to ensure all Canadians get the care they need when they need it. But were determined that this debate be based on facts and not the propaganda of the privatizers and their cheerleaders.

CUPE looks to the Romanow hearings planned in the coming weeks across the country to provide Canadians an opportunity to determine the future of health care for decades to come.

We have lots of positive suggestions for making the system more cost effective by reforming primary care, bringing home care into the public system and controlling drug costs, says Darcy.

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


For more information:
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications (613) 795-4977