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CUPE is pleased the Romanow report strongly rejects for-profit health care and called today for the Chrt0069en government to move immediately to strengthen our public health care services.

“We now have a blueprint for action. It’s time for a fully public system. The Chrt0069en government has been sitting on the sidelines for far too long. Canadians want them front and center, taking action to stop dangerous privatization experiments in the provinces and investing in better public health care,” says National President Judy Darcy.

CUPE made several presentations to the Romanow commission across the country, including an expert briefing on the health, economic and trade dangers of privatization and public private partnerships in health care. Key to CUPE’s vision of better public health care is a reformed and expanded system that’s public from top to bottom.

“Commissioner Romanow is right on the mark when he says for-profit health care won’t improve access or quality and that’s true for the full range of services at the heart of health care,” says Darcy.

One area of concern in Romanow’s report was that he left open the door to privatization of key patient services in hospital settings.

“A sterile operating room, clean laundry and nutritious food are absolutely critical to patient health. Handing these services over to big business makes no more sense than privatizing clinical care. Patients will suffer while precious health care dollars are diverted to corporate profits,” says Darcy.

Unlike other areas of his report, it does not appear that Romanow commissioned studies on the impact of privatizing hospital support services. But evidence from across Canada and around the world demonstrates that services suffer when profit becomes the bottom line. In the US, deaths linked to hospital germs represent the fourth leading cause of mortality among Americans.

“We know that privatization kills. Well germs kill too. Paying people mainly women minimum wage will lead to high turnover. Cutting corners and high turnover can be disastrous in a job where attention to detail can make the difference between life and death,” says Darcy.

“Higher costs, lower quality and increased staff turnover have plagued health services that are turned over to the private sector. The report advocates an integrated approach to patient care. We agree. You can’t carve off pieces of the system and put them up for sale,” says Darcy.

CUPE, as part of a broad coalition of labour and community groups, plans to step up the pressure on the federal government to defend and strengthen our public health care system in the weeks and months to come. Last week, CUPE took legal steps to force the federal government to live up to its responsibilities under the Canada Health Act.

“We know the federal Liberals will be hearing from literally thousands of Canadians, demanding the government finally take action. And we expect them to listen,” says Darcy.