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OTTAWA – Canada’s largest union has come out swinging in support of public, not-for-profit health care. And it’s citing a new study that shows patients are more likely to die when health care is provided for profit.

Appearing before the Romanow Commission, Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said it’s not just public funding, but public delivery of health care that’s required if we are going to ensure people have access to quality care when they need it.

We’ve always known for-profit health care costs more and is less efficient, but now we have clear evidence that privatization kills,” said Darcy. “In hospitals that are owned and operated on a for-profit basis, patients are more likely to die.”

Darcy was referring to a study published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in which researchers examined 38 million patients at 26,000 hospitals in the United States and found patients in private, for-profit hospitals have a higher risk of death, even though they are likely to have less complicated health problems.

Darcy called on Romanow to reject privately built and operated hospitals that are being pitched as partnerships by the governments of Ontario and British Columbia. “These so-called partnerships transform not-for-profit health care institutions into money-making enterprises,” said Darcy. “They do not save taxpayers money, they do not improve access to care and they do not improve quality. In fact, the opposite is true.”

Calling creeping privatization and soaring drug costs the greatest threats to the sustainability of our health care system, Darcy told the Commission that nothing short of bold, radical change will protect the public interest in quality health care.

We need strong, decisive action by the federal government to defend public health care, increasing its funding and covering 50 per cent of the costs of new programs that cover home and community care and drug costs,” said Darcy.

Canadians have said time and again that we are willing to pay more for public health care because it is more efficient and equitable and because only public, not-for-profit health care can meet our needs for generations to come,” she said.

CUPE represents one half million Canadian workers, including 150,000 who work in health care.


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