Prairie election results send clear health care message

B.C. New Democrats have protected Medicare but Campbell's Liberals would change that Recent prairie election results saw Saskatchewan's NDP government humbled and Manitoba's Tories turfed out of power as voters made it clear that strengthening health care was their top priority. In Saskatchewan, the New Democrats and premier Roy Romanow were returned for a third term but suffered a reduction in seats largely due to their springtime bargaining dust-up with health care workers and a disgruntled rural population. And in Manitoba, NDP leader Gary Doer and his colleagues - with a campaign that made restoring health care the main issue - defeated former premier Gary Filmon and his Conservatives. The Tories had cut health services and laid off health workers in the name of debt reduction and fiscal restraint. "Like our prairie neighbours, British Columbians want government to defend and improve our health care system," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "The NDP has done a good job of listening to these demands and has stood up for health care by boosting health care spending for eight consecutive years." "But we face a threat in Gordon Campbell's Liberals and their B.C. Business Summit allies who promote policies that favour the privatization of public services including health care, and the weakening of workers' rights and protections. We'll need to work hard across the province to make sure the real implications of the Liberal/Business Summit agenda on Medicare and on our communities are understood and rejected."