Public rejects health care contract rollbacks by 2-1 margin — poll

News release

Campbell government going in the wrong direction on health care, opposition to budget freeze is widespread

The Campbell government’s prescription for health care which includes the threat of contract rollbacks, a budget freeze, cuts to health services and Pharmacare, along with higher user fees, isn’t sitting well with the public according to the results of a recent McIntyre and Mustel public opinion survey.

Commissioned by the Hospital Employees’ Union, the poll found that 66 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to Victoria unilaterally rolling back provisions of signed contracts covering 100,00 health care workers. In the field last week when the Campbell government first issued the threat, the survey found that only 27 per cent of the public said they would support such a move.

Meanwhile, 49 per cent of those surveyed said the B.C. government is heading in the wrong direction in terms of its general approach to health care issues. Only 37 per cent thought the Campbell government was on the right track.

And opposition to the Campbell government’s three year budget freeze runs deep through all groups and areas of the province, the poll shows. Overall, some 67 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to the freeze, including 48 per cent who describe themselves as strongly opposed. Only 27 per cent say they support the move.

“These results provide some pretty sobering feedback for the Campbell government,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. “We’re pleased that the vast majority of British Columbians share our view that signed contracts should be respected, and that arbitrary rollbacks aren’t a solution to the challenges facing our health care system.

“As Campbell’s government heads into its last cabinet meeting for the year,” she says, “we urge the premier to take a sober second look at his health care policies and fiscal ones—like the tax cuts—that are endangering our public health care system.”

Bosancic isn’t surprised by the results. “Our members provide health care services in every community in the province, and in taking the local pulse, they tell us that a tidal wave of opposition to government policy is taking shape right across B.C.”

On all three poll questions, detailed findings show that women are more strongly opposed than men to the Campbell government’s approach and the budget freeze.

The questions posed by HEU were part of a broader McIntyre & Mustel omnibus telephone survey of 505 adult British Columbians Dec. 1-9. The results are considered accurate to within 4.4 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

The questions were as follows:

To make it easier to privatize and to reduce health care costs, the B.C. government may bring down a law that enables them to alter existing signed collective agreements covering health care workers. Their wages, benefits and job security protections could be unilaterally rolled back. Do you support or oppose the B.C. government bringing in a law to alter signed collective agreements? Total support 27 per cent (strongly, 10 per cent; somewhat 17 per cent) Total oppose 66 per cent (strongly, 43 per cent; somewhat 23 per cent) Don’t know/refused 7 per cent

In terms of health care policy and decisions, would you say the B.C. government is generally heading in the right direction or in wrong direction? Right direction 37 per cent Wrong direction 49 per cent Don’t know/refused 14 per cent

In order to balance the provincial budget by the fiscal year 2004/2005, the provincial government has announced a freeze on the health care budget for the next three years. Overall, do you support or oppose freezing health care spending in order to balance the budget?

Total support 27 per cent (strongly, 12 per cent; somewhat, 15 per cent) Total oppose 67 per cent (strongly, 48 per cent; somewhat 19 per cent) Don’t know/refused 6 per cent