Rock's plan to save Medicare missing key elements

News release

Restoring federal funding and blocking Albertaís health care privatization legislation missing from plan, says HEU B.C.'s largest health care union says Health Minister Allan Rock's plan to save Medicare will fail unless his government deals with the fundamental issues of underfunding and privatization of health care. And the Hospital Employees' Union says Rock has very little time to prove he's serious with a federal budget expected within a month and Ralph Klein poised to introduce health care privatization legisation at about the same time. HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt supports the expansion of federal health care funding to home and community care ó an intitiative medicare advocates have called for years. But Allnutt says Rock must first deal with the fundamental issues of underfunding and privatization. "The credibility of the health minister's proposals will be seriously eroded if next monthís federal budget features tax cuts for the wealthy instead of restored Medicare funding," says Allnutt. "After all, the finance minister's huge budgetary surplus that would make those tax cuts possible has been paid for by stripmining Medicare of billions of dollars." Allnutt also says Rock must announce concrete measures to ensure that Alberta premier Ralph Klein's plan to contract overnight surgeries to private hospitals does not succeed. "Allan Rock says he does not support Klein's initiative but what steps will he take to stop him?" asked Allnutt. "We're deeply concerned that trade agreements like NAFTA will force other provinces to accept US-style private hospitals if they gain a beachhead in Alberta." "We're urging Rock to take whatever legislative means are necessary to safeguard Medicare." Members of the Hospital Employees' Union gathered outside Children's and Women's Hospital in Vancouver where the federal health minister was speaking at the opening of a new research facility. They signed a giant postcard to Rock demanding action on federal funding for health care and urging him to "deKlein" the Alberta premier's privatization initiatives.