Bill 29 puts in motion “extreme agenda for health care” — HEU
A sweeping bill forced through the provincial legislature overnight means many B.C. communities are a step closer to losing their hospitals, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.
And the union says that the Campbell Liberals have crossed a moral boundary by fundamentally breaking commitments made to British Columbians before the election.
“Gordon Campbell promised us open and accountable government and then — in the middle of the night — rammed through a law that supports his extreme agenda for health care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.
“Campbell said he would respect collective agreements and fight privatization by strengthening public health care. But overnight, his government has gutted health care collective agreements clearing the way for wholesale privatization of health care delivery.
“The premier promised British Columbians health care where they live and when they need it,” adds Allnutt. “But now his health services minister has finally admitted that hospitals will be closed.”
Bill 29 puts profits ahead of patients, says Allnutt, by removing any barriers that would force private contractors to pay decent wages, provide minimum care levels or basic health and safety protections.
HEU will file a charter challenge to the legislation and is pursuing a defamation suit against the premier and some members of his cabinet for their characterization of HEU’s collective agreements as secret backroom deals.
And the union says it will proceed with legal action on behalf of health care workers, patients or communities who suffer damages as a result of local health employers’ failures to abide by the terms of legally-negotiated collective agreements.
“There’s no question that our union is in this fight for the long haul,” says Allnutt. “Our members are working in their communities right across the province to build a people’s opposition to the extreme policies of this government.”