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(OTTAWA) Women have the most at stake in the fight to prevent the destruction of Canadas health care system. That was the message Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, delivered as CUPE members marked International Womens Day in the midst of a national campaign to save Medicare.

“As the health care system is being starved of funds and carved up for profit, its women who are most affected and most concerned,” said Darcy. “We see it every day the cuts to hospital beds, the cuts to patient care and support services in hospitals and nursing homes. These are womens jobs and womens services that are being cut.”

CUPE has been mounting a major campaign to put pressure on the federal government to increase its funding to health care and prevent the Alberta government from introducing for-profit hospitals into the public health care system.

“We represent 140,000 health care workers, most of them women, and weve seen first hand the many ways that funding cuts and privatization target women,” said Darcy.

“When hospital beds are closed and patients are sent home quicker and sicker, its mothers, sisters and daughters who are called up to provide home care in the absence of hospital care,” Darcy said. “When Ralph Klein and Mike Harris say that private health care could offer savings, its because corporations will pay women health care workers minimum wage while pocketing big profits for themselves. Women in Canada are also at the low end of the income scale and they sure cant afford to pay for private health care.”

CUPE has proposed a five-point plan for health care that would address the current crisis in Canadas health care system. The plan calls for an immediate increase in funding for health care; action to stop privatization; expansion to include a national home care program and a national drug plan; improving access to primary care; and exempting Medicare from trade agreements.

“Saving medicare is a womens issue if there ever was one. Women are calling on Martin, Rock, Klein and Harris to stop playing politics with our lives and take immediate action to protect and strengthen Medicare,” said Darcy.

CUPE represents 475,000 women and men who work in health care, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines. For information on CUPEs campaign to save Medicare, see www.cupe.ca

For further information contact:
Pam Beattie (613) 761-8796

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