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Premier Gordon Campbell’s televised statement Wednesday night sends confusing and conflicting signals to British Columbians, says the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

“Tuesday’s throne speech called for new cooperative relationships in health care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “But last night, Premier Campbell slipped back into his old habit of singling out the thousands of women who work on health care’s front-lines and blaming them for his health care woes.

“The premier was playing fast and loose with the numbers last night,” says Allnutt. “HEU members earn fair, living wages that support families in every single heartland community referred to by the premier.

“The reality of this government’s agenda of contracting out and privatization is the creation of an underclass of working women providing critical services in health care settings for less than $18,000 a year,” says Allnutt. “I don’t think that’s the kind of health care British Columbians want.

“But despite his comments, we’re convinced that the vast majority of British Columbians want government, health employers and HEU to sit down and discuss alternatives to privatization and contracting out,” adds Allnutt.

“These talks are urgently needed to ensure that our communities don’t lose valuable services and family-supporting jobs.”