British Columbians oppose Klein-style health care privatization

News release

HEU poll should give provincial premiers food for thought as they prepare to meet in Quebec City Nearly two-thirds of British Columbians say Alberta-style health care privatization proposals have no place in B.C. - according to a public opinion poll commissioned by the Hospital Employees' Union. Next month, Alberta premier Ralph Klein plans to introduce legislation that would permit public funding of private, for-profit hospitals to carry out surgical procedures currently available only in public hospitals. Klein's move has sparked a national debate on the state of Medicare in this country that's expected to be front and centre when the provincial premiers meet in Quebec City on Feb. 3. "Canadians are concerned about the unprecedented pressures facing Medicare," says HEU's president Fred Muzin. "Unfortunately, health care corporations and some provincial politicians say the only way to save our health care system is to privatize it. But British Columbians aren't buying the privatization agenda by a long shot. We'll be urging Premier Dan Miller and other provincial premiers to speak out strongly against Klein's plans for privatization in Quebec City." Muzin will be joining other health care activists from the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ottawa this weekend to develop a strategy to help defeat Kleinís legisation and to press all levels of government to work co-operatively to strengthen and modernize the public Medicare system. McIntyre & Mustel conducted the poll of 401 British Columbians between December 14 - 20, 1999. The results are considered accurate within five per cent, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: First Ralph Klein cut health funding, closed hospitals and reduced services. Now he's proposing to privatize hospital services, including surgical services. Our provincial government should follow Alberta's lead. Total Disagree 64% Total Agree 29% Don't Know 7%