Secret budget document exposes government plans to axe 28,000 health care jobs

News release

Increased wait lists, risks to patient safety and half billion dollars more in cost shifting revealed in briefing notes obtained by HEU

Secret budget documents obtained by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) and released today outline the Campbell Liberals’ plans to axe nearly 28,000 health care jobs, increase surgery wait lists and shift another $500 million in health care costs on to the shoulders of B.C. families.

“It amounts to the largest mass sacking of women workers in B.C. history,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “These top level documents expose this government’s plans to carry out the most extreme health care privatization scheme in Canadian history at the expense of working women, their families and their communities.”

The union is calling for a moratorium on health care privatization, hospital closures and service cuts pending an independent inquiry and has asked a panel of experts to provide comment on the government’s plans.

According to the secret documents, about 20,000 health jobs (13,600 full-time equivalent positions) are to be terminated as part of a scheme to privatize $700 million in services over the next year. Another 7,500 jobs (5,050 FTEs) are to be chopped in both clinical and support areas as a result of service cutbacks over the next three years.

“And it’s shocking,” says Allnutt, “that for estimated savings of $70 million over three years, the Campbell Liberals will spend $163 million in termination costs.

“It’s clear proof that this government’s agenda for health care is blindingly ideological and has nothing to do with putting patients first or protecting health care,” adds Allnutt. “It puts patients dead last — right along with health care workers and the communities where they live and work.”

Workers whose jobs are privatized, according to the document, may be rehired by the private sector at reduced wage rates — up to 30 per cent lower. But Allnutt says this best case scenario means local communities already facing difficult economic times, will take a $150 million hit from wage cuts alone.

The Campbell Liberals are also undermining local businesses that supply goods to health care facilities in favour of lucrative contracts for health care corporations that source their supply and send their profits out-of-province.

“For a third of one per cent of the health care budget, the Campbell Liberals are prepared to plunge health care into chaos, undermine local economies and toss 20,000 workers — mostly women — out on the street,” says Allnutt. “It’s shameful.”

Other explosive revelations in the secret briefing notes include:

  • 10,000 fewer surgical procedures will be funded in the next year and “wait lists will grow”;
  • “patient safety could be compromised” as a result of cuts to the B.C. Ambulance Service; and
  • seniors and B.C. families will pay $406 million more over three years for drug costs. About “420,000 seniors will pay more” while 800,000 people will pay $75 million more as the result of previously announced MSP cuts.

“All told, Pharmacare and MSP changes will shift a staggering half billion dollars in new costs to individuals and their families,” says Allnutt. “Kiss your tax cut good bye.”

Prior to the last election, Campbell told HEU members in an interview carried in the union newspaper that they didn’t have to worry about privatization from a Liberal government and their work was important and would be valued.

“But it’s clear that this government has broken yet another pre-election promise,” says Allnutt. “Instead of putting patients first and valuing health care workers, the premier is about to steal away the livelihood of these women and men and start writing cheques to his corporate friends.”

Allnutt says the Campbell government has no mandate to proceed with the dismantling of public health care.

“Our members will stand shoulder to shoulder with others in their communities to ensure that Campbell’s efforts to destroy public medicare fail. This extreme agenda for health care is not a foregone conclusion.”

— 30 — Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director, 604-240-8524 (cell)

? Chris Allnutt’s March 4 speaking notes and other background documents are linked below.

Excerpts from Liberal secret budget briefing book

Speakers notes

Briefing book secrets

Mass privatization scheme another betrayal of trust by Premier Campbell

Public doesn't support Liberal agenda

The Hospital Employees' Union