B.C. delivers on national Day of Warning

Big crowds attracted to rallies against health care privatization

A new chapter in the fight against health care privatization opened on June 14 as Canada’s largest health care unions marked a “Day of Warning” from Signal Hill, Newfoundland to Victoria.

In B.C., health care workers gathered outside hospitals at major noon hour rallies throughout the province. In Victoria, more than 150 demonstrators gathered outside the Ministry of Health to hear union and student leaders demand federal action to stop health care privatization and get back in the game of funding our health care system.

In Prince George, more than 100 gathered outside the hospital while crowds at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and at Kelowna General Hospital exceeded 250. Noisy crowds gathered outside Burnaby General Hospital, Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Vancouver and Kootenay Lake Regional Hospital in Nelson while more than 150 health care workers stopped by the Day of Warning gathering outside Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for coffee and sandwiches.

Many other HEU locals took part in the June 14 activities by distributing Day of Warning stickers and leaflets and by setting up information tables outside their facilities.

“The June 14 Day of Warning demonstrates that there’s a growing coalition that’s determined to stop corporations from dismantling our health care system,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt who spoke at the Kelowna rally. “And at the core of this coalition are HEU members from across the province who’ve reached out to other unions and community groups to make today a resounding success.”

“We’re on the brink of Canada’s biggest medical emergency ever,” said Judy Darcy, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees who was joined outside Ottawa Civic Hospital by HEU financial secretary Mary LaPlante and other HEU activists attending a women’s conference in the national capital.

“For-profit care threatens the foundation of our health care system. It’s high noon for health care. We have to stop the spread of private, for-profit care before Medicare disappears,” said Darcy.

More than 1000 people rallied at a June 14 event in Winnipeg while HEU president Fred Muzin spoke to a gathering of health care workers outside Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax.

In B.C., the Day of Warning was organized by HEU, BCGEU, BCNU and HSA.