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The Romanow report is in, and CUPE members are ready to come out stronger than ever to defend public health care. The report rejects most for-profit care, saying that public works best for Medicare. But the danger is in the report’s details.

Romanow singles out the work many CUPE members do as health care support workers, saying contracting out and for-profit delivery of these services won’t hurt health care. In doing so, he gives the Good Housekeeping seal of approval to lower quality patient care, lower wages and higher turnover.

Romanow draws an artificial and arbitrary line between patient care and support services such as dietary, laundry, housekeeping and other services that are the heart of health care. CUPE has analysis that clearly shows the vital links between publicly delivered support services and healthy patients. Romanow made his pronouncements on this issue with no evidence or research. CUPE members will be mobilizing to defend these jobs and services in their communities.

In addition, while there are many arguments against for-profit care, all backed with solid evidence, none of the report’s 47 recommendations call for a ban on for-profit health care, including existing for-profit diagnostic clinics. Romanow also does some fancy footwork around P3s. He reflects CUPE’s critique of P3s, but stops short of recommending their rejection, leaving the door wide open for the CCPPP and other corporate pushers.

CUPE is planning an important health care gathering in early February. The Ottawa meetings will bring members together to strengthen our defence of public health care, and to hold politicians’ feet to the fire on the kind of health care system we want to see. A registration form for the People’s Summit has been sent to all CUPE locals.