CUPE's Medicare ambulance tour heads to Alberta after successful B.C. leg

After visiting more than two dozen health care facilities over nine days, CUPE's Medicare ambulance was handed over Feb. 22 to Alberta health care activists on the Alberta-B.C. border just east of Pouce Coupe. HEU members Arleta Keppler and Sheila Rowswell and ambulance paramedic Stuart Myers from CUPE Local 873 logged thousands of kilometres as part of a CUPE campaign to defeat Alberta premier Ralph Klein's private hospitals legislation and to press the federal government to get back in the game of funding Canada's most cherished social program - Medicare. Along the way, the CUPE health care activists met with hundreds of health care workers at their workplaces and had an opportunity to speak directly with local newspapers and radio and TV reporters about the threats now facing Medicare. "The CUPE ambulance tour has raised the profile of the fight for Medicare across the province," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "From Duncan to Princeton to Chetwynd - our Medicare activists were able to get around big city media like the Vancouver Sun and BCTV and bring their message directly to British Columbians." CUPE ambulances have also been touring through Atlantic Canada, and from Ontario through Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In March, two of the ambulances will meet in Calgary and caravan to Edmonton for a rally against Klein's legislation. Meanwhile, HEU has been working with other health care activists in the BC Health Coalition to distribute post cards addressed to Allan Rock calling for a dramatic increase in health care funding and federal intervention to stop Klein. In a little over two weeks, the coalition has distributed over 90,000 post cards ó thatís in addition to the 45,000 mailed directly to HEU members last month. Allnutt urged all HEU members to take a moment to 'deKlein' private hospitals and press for increased funding from Ottawa by filling out a postcard to Rock. Additional copies are available from local leaders in the workplace.