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B.C.’s billion dollar-plus share of a much needed infusion of federal health care funding should eliminate the financial pressures that are driving the Campbell government’s radical agenda of cuts, closures and privatization, says the Hospital employees’ Union (CUPE).

While there is still a lot of fine print to analyze in the agreement reached Feb. 5 by provincial premiers and Prime Minister Chrt0069en, HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt says the new money-which includes so-called targeted funds for specific health reform objectives-is a positive step.

“The bottom line is clear,” says Allnutt. “By Victoria’s own admission the forecast savings from contracting-out thousands of jobs is only expected to be $70 million in total.

“Contrast that with the $350 to $500 million of new money that will come from Ottawa, and it means that Victoria can step back from the chaos and confrontation that’s been rampant in B.C.’s health care system for the last year.”

At a national level, Allnutt says that CUPE is disappointed that there aren’t tougher measures to ensure that provincial and federal governments are accountable for how health care dollars are spent, which was a key recommendation of the recent Romanow report on health care.

In addition, he says stronger protections against privatization are glaringly absent from the final deal.

Meanwhile, Allnutt says HEU would have like to see a more clearly defined reform agenda in terms of a national prescription drug plan, and expanding home support and primary care programs. And he said that our union has offered to work cooperatively with the Campbell government to map out a progressive reform strategy.