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OTTAWA – With public health care under mounting private sector pressure in Ontario, BC and Alberta, Canada’s largest union is demanding action from federal health minister Allan Rock.

The Ontario government is poised to announce the province’s second privately financed, owned and operated hospital, a move that ratchets the privatization pressure on Medicare up to fever pitch.

It’s high time Allan Rock took a stand,” says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “He’s stood on the sidelines through private surgery in Alberta to privatized cancer care in Ontario to this full-blown assault on health care. Minister Rock has to stop the construction of these privatization pipelines before it’s too late.”

Today’s anticipated announcement at the Royal Ottawa Hospital comes on the heels of last week’s plans for a privately financed, owned and maintained hospital in Brampton. A similar private, for-profit hospital is being planned in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

The Ontario government laid the groundwork for this destructive move on the federal Liberals’ watch. First the Tories cut health funding to the bone, stripping hospitals of the resources to care. Now they introduce so-called public private ‘partnership’ hospitals. And it’s not just a one-two punch. The third and most devastating blow will come when these for-profit hospitals take over surgery – the ultimate goal of this privatization plan,” says Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

The Ontario and BC government plans mimic a British private hospital initiative that has been a dismal failure. UK private hospitals have been a financial nightmare, providing substandard care while rewarding shareholders with massive profits.

We won’t stand for what’s happened in Britain – low levels of care at high cost to taxpayers and workers. We have a plan to strengthen and expand public health care, preventing privatization. It’s time to put that plan into action,” says Darcy.

Under NAFTA rules, private hospitals may be irreversible,” says Claude Gnreux, CUPE’s National Secretary-Treasurer. “If they are allowed to funnel public health dollars to private companies, we’ll find US companies demanding equal access to what they see as a lucrative Canadian market.”

CUPE represents a half-million women and men providing front line public services in health care, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and emergency services, including 180,000 health care workers.

A CUPE-led campaign in Prince Edward Island stopped a similar private hospital plan in 1999. For background on the problems with private hospitals and CUPE’s plan for public health care, visit cupe.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Sandra Sorensen, CUPE Communications
613-237-1590 ext 268, or cell: 416-712-1161

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