Ambulance sounds Medicare alarm

News release

An ambulance staffed by health care workers and carrying an important message about the future of Medicare begins a nine-day tour of B.C. starting Monday in Nanaimo. The ambulance sports a visually striking paint job that calls attention to the threat privatization poses to our public Medicare system. The ambulance is one of three from across the country that will converge on Edmonton later this month when Ralph Klein is expected to introduce legislation that would legalize private hospitals. The nine-day B.C. leg includes stops in communities from Nanaimo to Dawson Creek with numerous special events and media oportunities. The ambulance will be handed off to Alberta health care activists on February 23. The tour kicks of at 11:45 a.m. at the ambulatory care entrance to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (at Dufferin Street) on Monday, February 14. The health care workers will encourage citizens in B.C. communities to put pressure on politicians to make a dramatic and permanent boost in health care funding in the upcoming federal budget. They're also calling for Ottawa to take whatever legislative actions are necessary to prevent Alberta premier Ralph Klein from legalizing private hospitals. "Private health care isnít about curing patients. It's about securing profits for huge corporations," says Judy Darcy, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. "Every major study shows private health care costs more, is less efficient and means longer waiting lists. The cure for the current health care crisis is to strengthen and rebuild our public system. We wonít let the privateers devour Medicare." The tour is sponsored by the Canadian Union of Public Employees' — the ambulance will be staffed by members of the CUPE Local 873 — the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. — and the Hospital Employees' Union — CUPE's B.C. Health Services Division.