Postcard campaign to 'deKlein' privatized health care starting point to mobilize for Feb. 29 national day of action

HEU is committed to playing a leading role in a cross-Canada campaign that's being organized by our national union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, to protect Medicare and fight Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's plans to privatize surgical services and licence private for profit hospitals. The first step in the HEU/CUPE coast to coast effort to stop Klein cold is a postcard campaign to federal health minister Allan Rock. The postcards - which will be sent as part of a mailout from Provincial Office to more than 45,000 HEU members next week - will urge Rock to use the Canada Health Act or other legislated means necessary to ban private hospitals in Alberta. The cards also demand that Ottawa restore billions of dollars of federal health funding that was chopped throughout the 1990s to help the Liberals amass a huge budget surplus. This is just the first step as health care workers across Canada build momentum and support for a national day of action Feb. 29 to press Ottawa to protect and modernize Medicare. HEU members are urged to take a moment to fill out the postage free card to make sure our views on privatization are heard in Ottawa. "Ralph Klein's crusade to open the door for U.S.-style two tier care in Canada is not just an attack on the fundamental principles of our public health care system," says HEU secretary- business manager Chris Allnutt. "It also poses a threat for all health care workers in B.C. regardless of whether you work in community services, long-term care or in a hospital." "Because of international trade agreements like NAFTA," says Allnutt, "Klein's move will open the door for private hospitals to operate in B.C. - even if British Columbians didn't want them. That could also bring a flood of U.S. corporations demanding the right to run long-term care facilities or community services like mental health group homes" "There's another connection for B.C. health care workers too," he said. "Gordon Campbell has long been enamoured with the policies of Klein and Ontario's Mike Harris. So if Klein gets away with private hospitals in Alberta, it's not much of a stretch to expect that it would be on the agenda of a B.C. Liberal provincial government if Campbell gets elected." So with Klein set to introduce privatization legislation when the Alberta legislature resumes sitting in February, says Allnutt, it's urgent that we press the federal government to close the door on private hospitals. "That's why we're asking all union members to take a moment to 'deKlein' privatization." HEU leaders and staff are working on developing a concrete strategy and local events to build for the Feb. 29 day of action. More information will be forwarded to union members shortly. MODERNIZE MEDICARE. Don't privatize it! The HEU/CUPE campaign has five demands: 1. Stop and reverse privatization of health care, starting with the defeat of Kleinís private hospital scheme. 2. Increase federal health funding. 3. Expand Medicare to include home support and a national drug plan. 4. Improve access to quality care through primary care reform. 5. Protect health care from trade deals like NAFTA and the WTO.