Medicare trauma case rushed to Royal Jubilee

News release

An ambulance rushed to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria at noon today with an emergency message about Canada's health care system: Medicare is in crisis as a result of complications arising from federal underfunding and privatization. Staffed by front-line health care workers, the ambulance is visiting communities across the province gathering signatures on postcards that urge federal health minister Allan Rock to take emergency measures to strengthen Medicare. Those measures include restoration of federal funding for health care and immediate action by Ottawa to stop Alberta premier Ralph Klein from legalizing private hospitals. "Health care is being starved of cash, and that's creating chaos throughout the system," says Judy Darcy, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. "The most immediate treatment required is a cash transfusion from the federal government. Not a short term, quick fix, but a dramatic and permanent increase in health care transfers - and that must start in this year's budget." Royal Jubilee computer technician Arleta Keppler is travelling with the ambulance. She's concerned that health care cuts by Ottawa have made the system vulnerable to privatization. "Health care workers recently faced down a bid to privatize public hospital labs in this region and we're gearing up for another fight to save hospital food services," says Keppler. "I'm not prepared to see Medicare privatized one piece at a time." The ambulance is one of three from across Canada that will converge on Edmonton later this month to oppose the Alberta premier's efforts to contract out overnight surgeries to private hospitals."Klein's health care scheme puts the future health of all Canadians at risk," says Darcy. "We have to stop private hospitals in Alberta. We also have to press the federal government to take decisive action to protect Medicare from any further outbreaks of the privatization virus." The tour is sponsored by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and its B.C. affiliates CUPE Local 873 (Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.) and the Hospital Employees' Union.