Supreme Court medicare ruling a wake up call to B.C. politicians — HEU

News release

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B.C. politicians can no longer turn their backs on the growing threat of private health care interests in the wake of today’s Supreme Court decision that opened the door to two-tier health care in Quebec, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

The union is calling on the provincial government to commit itself to enforcing the Canada Health Act and to invest in innovative solutions that will strengthen access for all British Columbians — not just for those who can pay for private health care.

“Frankly, this government’s neglect of public health care over the last four years has been an open invitation for more private health care,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy.

“Today’s court decision is a warning that we must act immediately to strengthen public health care delivery.”

As a priority, Darcy says the province should provide more long-term care beds to take the pressure off hospital emergency rooms and acute care beds; utilize vacant operating rooms to their full capacity instead of contracting out surgeries to private clinics; and fund public day-surgery clinics to reduce surgical waiting lists.

To meet these priorities, government will need to do more to recruit and train more nursing staff, lab workers, medical technologists and health support workers.

Darcy also says the province needs to more closely monitor private clinics for violations of the Canada Health Act.

In December 2003 the B.C. government passed legislation that would have provided more stringent oversight of these clinics’ billing practices but failed to enact the law under pressure from private clinics.

“Today’s court decision will embolden the private health care lobby in the province,” adds Darcy.

“The question is: Will our elected officials have the courage to stand up for quality public health care for everyone?”

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Contact: Margi Blamey, communications officer, 604-456-7094 or 604-785-5324 (cell)