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A weekend poll released today by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) show rising public opposition to the privatization of hospital services and overwhelming support for direct negotiations between health care unions, employers and government to find alternatives to privatization.

The poll also shows that more than 70 per cent of British Columbians believe government plans to lay off 5,000 health care workers and privatize their work will have a negative impact on patient care.

The poll tracks growing opposition to the privatization of housekeeping, laundry and food services which now stands at 63 per cent - up six per cent from February and 23 per cent from last June.

Only 30 per cent support privatizing these services - down from 37 per cent in February.

And more than four out of five British Columbians support talks to find alternatives to privatization.

“The public is clearly anxious about government’s health privatization plans and their impact on patients,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “And they expect all the stakeholders to find alternatives to a scenario that would see 5,000 skilled, experienced workers dumped on the street.”

The CGT International survey commissioned by HEU also shows widespread public skepticism about key government arguments promoting its privatization agenda. By a margin of two to one, the public agrees that it’s appropriate that B.C. health workers have wages that are higher than in other provinces because of our higher cost of living. And government claims that these workers are paid too much and that hundreds of millions can be saved through privatization are judged not believable by a solid majority of those polled.

When it comes to picking sides in the dispute between health care workers and government over the privatization of support services, 66 per cent support health care workers. Only one in four support the government’s position.

The survey of 401 British Columbians was carried out March 14-16 and is considered accurate to within 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Detailed poll results follow in a separate backgrounder.


Mike Old, communications officer,
604-828-6771 (cell)

Go to href=http://www.heu.org/rel_03_18_03_poll_background.pdf to view HEU/CGT poll results.