HEU locals defend Medicare on Feb. 29, CUPE's national Day of Action

Activists outraged by Chretien Liberals' "wealth care not health care budget" Health care activists stepped up the pressure on the federal Liberals in the wake of a budget that fails to address Canada's Medicare crisis. HEU locals highlighted the 'defend Medicare' message in their workplaces and in their communities with various activities throughout the province. Activities and events were creative, informative and highly-visible. Members wore the 'De-Klein Private Hospitals' and ìModernize Medicare' stickers on the job all day and many locals set up information tables and distributed the 'de-Klein privatized health care' postcards. Away from health care facilities, members leafleted downtown cores and shopping centres. In one case, HEU-staffed information tables at two malls experienced a run on the 'de-Klein' postcards as more than 500 people signed on to protest the privatization-proud premierís proposal to pay public money to for-profit hospitals for some overnight surgeries. To date more than 50,000 postcards have been circulated by HEU activists to colleagues, family, neighbours, community and labour groups and other Medicare advocates. Through a variety of public events, HEU members spread the message to defend Medicare and stop Klein now. There was a car rally, a 'defend Medicare' poster contest, and a balloon-decorated parking lot canvass. In Vancouver, labour and community representatives rallied in front of St. Paul's Hospital to protest Ottawa's neglect of Medicare. Speakers included CUPE Alberta president Terry Mutton and HEU president Fred Muzin. Muzin told the boisterous crowd that budget provisions for health care and other social programs such as post-secondary education are woefully inadequate, and that the federal Liberals have simply kept Medicare on life support for one more year. The nation-wide Day of Action was organized by CUPE to put pressure on the Chretien Liberals to increase health care funding and protect Canadians from two-tier medicine. Across the country, CUPE members organized protests targeting the federal government and Liberal MPs.