Campbell Liberals roll out plan to gut Medicare

But HEU members mark April 23 as “Fightback Tuesday” and vow to defend public health care

The Campbell Liberals have laid bare their plans to cut health services, close hospitals and turn over hundreds of millions of dollars of services, buildings and land to private companies.

But HEU members from around the province marked the day as “Fightback Tuesday” and began the morning with a noisy occupation of a downtown hotel at the outset of a five-hour press briefing.

Later, front-line workers from closed and downsized facilities around the province gathered at a Vancouver news conference to explain the impact of the cuts on their communities.

“If British Columbians had any illusions that the Campbell Liberals would put patients first,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, “they’ve been completely dashed.

“Over five hours, this government’s hand-picked health czars unveiled plans to dismantle public health care one piece at a time.”

And the carnage to public health care is extensive and harms communities in every corner of the province, says Allnutt.

“The Campbell Liberals have put patients dead last — right along with thousands of front-line health care workers.”

Tuesday’s announcements included:

  • 3,000 vital long-term care beds closed closed province-wide;
  • eleven communities have been targeted for hospital closures — they’ll no longer provide any inpatient services;
  • a green light for health authorities to levy user fees and additional charges in a crass cash grab;
  • plans to cut $195 million in support services right across the province without producing any evidence or rationale to show how this could save money without compromising care; and
  • more than 10,000 front-line workers have been targeted for pink slips.

“What the minister announced today is potentially the largest mass firing of women workers in this province’s history,” says Allnutt.

Tuesday’s cuts are intended to relieve $567 million in cost pressures. But Allnutt says that an increase to the health budget in the next two fiscal years of 2.75 per cent per year would make this week’s carnage unnecessary.

“Many media pundits will want to call this “Black Tuesday,” says Allnutt.

“But HEU members would characterize it a different way. We’re calling this “fightback Tuesday". And we intend to work closely with the public in every corner of the province to make sure these plans are not implemented.”