Saskatoon: “There needs to be changes to our public health care system, but privatizing support services is not one of them,” CUPE National President Paul Moist said in Saskatoon yesterday – the same day the Saskatchewan government launched its “Patient First Review” of the health system.
The Saskatchewan Party swept to power last year after promising its proposed review of health services would not consider health care privatization. Only months after the election, Saskatchewan’s Health Minister confirmed privatization would be part of the review’s mandate.
“We’ve been to this dance before,” Moist told delegates at CUPE Saskatchewan’s Solidarity Conference. He warned: “Privatizing health services will not solve the problems in health care, they’ll compound them by leading to longer wait times and reduced patient care.”
Moist also chastised the government for referring to the health care system as a business that serves customers. “Our health care workers don’t serve customers, they serve citizens by providing quality public services.”
He suggested one way the government could improve the public health care system is to “staff it properly” as understaffing remains a huge problem.
Saskatchewan’s two-day Solidarity conference, which concludes today, also included a keynote address by journalist Irshad Manji and a presentation by organizers of an inner-city community project called Station 20, who thanked CUPE for their generous financial support. The union donated $100,000 and provided an additional $150,000 as a loan guarantee, after the SaskParty government rescinded funding for the project.
“Your support came at a critical time for us,” community organizer Don Kossick told delegates, adding it shows CUPE is a union committed to the “common wealth” of the community.
CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux said the union’s support for Station 20 reflects CUPE’s commitment to social justice and “our desire to change the world, one community at a time.”
Building strong communities: Station 20 organizer Don Kossick (left) with CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham, Paul Moist, Saskatchewan Regional Director Melanie Medlicott and Claude Généreux.