Caravan for Care delivers no health cuts message to FHA

Health care workers, seniors, unions and other supporters of public health care trucked down the freeway today in the Caravan for Care. Their destination? The Fraser Health Authority offices in Surrey where they were set to deliver a message to CEO Bob Smith on behalf of British Columbians from Burnaby to Boston Bar that the government’s health care cuts and privatization must stop now.

Outside the FHA, Joyce Jones of the Seniors Network B.C. told the crowd that seniors are fighting mad about the changes in residential care with the shift away from facility care to assisted living units. Jones said that the “Just say no” campaign, launched by the Seniors Network and the B.C. Health Coalition in June for residents who didn’t want to be arbitrarily moved, is still going strong in seniors’ care facilities throughout the province, with measurable successes.

Moberly Manor in Revelstoke and Capilano Care Centre in West Vancouver — where active and vocal resident/worker protests were staged — have won reprieves because they said no to moving seniors from their homes.

Jones also pledged the Network’s ongoing support to the residents and families of Chilliwack’s Parkholm Lodge as they continue their fight to stay where they are in the face of closure notice.

HEU president Fred Muzin spoke of the impacts of privatization on patient and resident care, citing the prior experience of the United Kingdom. The U.K. implemented a massive privatization effort in the 1990s in a broad range of public services including health care. Now their National Health Service is beginning to bring health services back in-house after disastrous experiences with private sector contracts.

Muzin talked about the Liberals’ boldest privatization attempt — a new privately financed and owned hospital in Abbotsford to replace MSA General — a copy of a British initiative called a private finance initiative. The FHA was scheduled to move forward on the private hospital proposal in Dec. 2001, but because of public outrage against the scheme and evidence from a number of countries that private hospitals are bad for patients, the government has still not announced its decision.

A caravan delegation of four health workers did speak with an FHA representative during the rally. CEO Smith was unavailable. Rumour has it that he was visiting the hospital and other care facilities in Chilliwack today.