HEU to doctors: Campbell’s word can’t be trusted

News release

B.C.’s largest health care union has some friendly advice for the province’s doctors: Don’t trust Gordon Campbell’s word.

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) issued the warning after the premier and the B.C. Medical Association inked an agreement Tuesday that partially delivers an arbitrated compensation package and promises a dispute resolution mechanism. The BCMA president told media yesterday that she had the premier’s word that he would honour his commitments.

“Our 46,000 members discovered the hard way that the Premier’s word is not worth much,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “Gordon Campbell explicitly told health care workers that he would not rip up their agreements — yet he did just that.”

Bill 29 — rammed through the legislature in January — shreds collective agreements that were reached without arbitration and overwhelmingly supported by health employers. The legislation clears the way for hospital closures, privatization and massive lay-offs.

“It’s important that the province resolve their dispute with B.C. doctors,” adds Allnutt. “But quite frankly, the last year has been littered with broken health care commitments.”

? Despite a new era commitment to build 5,000 non-profit long-term care beds, the Campbell Liberals are closing beds — official announcements and leaked documents indicate 1,400 bed closures are in the works and HEU says Victoria plans to close up to 8,000.

? In an interview with the HEU newspaper, Campbell said front-line health care workers didn’t need to worry about the threat of privatization from a Campbell government. Yet a secret government budget document indicates that his government is preparing to privatize $700 million of health services.

? In that same interview, Campbell said he would value the contribution of HEU members to the public health care system. Yet the secret budget document revealed plans to lay off 28,000 health care workers.

? Campbell promised to strengthen public health care to make private clinics redundant. Yet members of his cabinet have openly suggested a larger role for private clinics in the public health system. And the cabinet is poised to approve Canada’s first private hospital in Abbotsford.

“The Campbell Liberals promisted to protect health care and put patients first,” says Allnutt. “But the actions of this government show that these are empty promises.”

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct)/ 604-828-6771 (cell)