Liberal backbench attacks health care’s front line

Premier Campbell’s call for a new cooperative relationship in the health care sector during last week’s throne speech was missed by at least two of his backbenchers, both who seized opportunities to insult the province’s health care workers during Tuesday’s legislative debates.

First, Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, suggested HEU’s primarily female membership are secondary wage earners working for pin money. Not content to leave it at that, he went on to imply their families were somehow scamming the system.

According to Hawes, the primary wage earner “drops the benefits they were getting in their job to hook onto the benefits provided by the secondary wage earner (HEU member),” he explained, “...because the government benefits are better than anything offered anywhere in the private sector.”

Not to be outdone, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and government house leader Kevin Krueger, who landed in hot water just before the last election when he belittled Royal Inland Hospital housekeepers as “toilet cleaners”, vented his own spleen against health care workers, particularly those who protested against Bill 29 on January 28.

“I think those people (HEU members) should be fired. I think if you ever walk off your job in a health care institution in British Columbia and you don’t show up for work, we just don’t need you anymore. If you thought you were unnecessary that day, we think you’re unnecessary forever.”

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt called the remarks inflammatory and unhelpful. “I don’t believe they have any place in a civilized legislative debate,” he said. “It’s well past time to put the politics of division and confrontation, plaguing health care, behind us.”