Ottawa suffers "credibility gap" on Medicare question, says HEU

News release

HEU president appears before Commons Finance Committee today at 5 p.m. in Vancouver Ottawa needs to take action in its 2000 budget to restore its credibility on the Medicare question, says B.C.'s largest health care union. "The Prime Minister's assertion that he will defend Medicare against Alberta's privatization push lacks credibility given his government's deep cuts to health care," says HEU president Fred Muzin. "If his government is serious about challenging Ralph Klein's plans for two-tier health care, the next federal budget will include a restoration of transfer payments to the provinces for health care and other important social programs," says Muzin. "Otherwise, Chretien's comments are a lot of sizzle and no steak." Muzin noted that the increased transfer payments announced in last yearís federal budget barely begin to reverse previous cuts made by Paul Martin beginning in the 1994/95 budget. Payments to the provinces in 2002/03 will still fall short of 1994/95 levels by $7 billion after adjustments for inflation and population growth are made. Transfer payment cuts made by the federal Liberal government have cost B.C. $1.5 billion between 1994/95 and 1999/00. Muzin will appear before the Standing Committee at 5:00 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Empire Landmark Hotel and Conference Centre, 1400 Robson Street, Vancouver.