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PM must act to save health care, stop privatization, union says

Toronto – The Government of Canada must boost funding for health care and use its powers to rein in provinces that want to privatize the system, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“As Canada’s Premiers meet tonight, we are hopeful that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will say two things about health care,” said Sara Labelle, Chair of OPSEU’s Hospital Professionals Division.

“First, we need the Prime Minister to say that the federal government will offer a commitment that federal transfers to the provinces for health care will increase by six per cent a year for the long term,” she said. “The PM needs to walk away from the legacy of Stephen Harper and get us back to funding health care to a standard that is acceptable to all Canadians.”

“Second, he needs to tell the provinces that that funding will be tied to their commitment to uphold the principles of the Canada Health Act. That means a publicly run system that doesn’t force patients to pay out of pocket for the care they need.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas commended federal Health Minister Jane Philpott for warning the provinces, on several occasions, to stop turning the public health care system over to the private sector.

“The federal government has shown a willingness to crack down on provinces that defy the principles of the Canada Health Act,” Thomas said, “but its power to do so depends entirely on its commitment of funding. Federal funding is absolutely essential to ensuring quality public health care for all Canadians, no matter where they live.”

“It is true that provinces have misdirected federal health care funding in the past,” Sara Labelle said. “In Ontario, we know that the province has not spent all of its federal funding for health care on health care over the last number of years.”

“We fully agree that federal funding should come with strings attached to ensure that it goes to publicly-funded health care, and nothing else.”

OPSEU represents 45,000 health care workers in Ontario.

For more information: Sara Labelle 905-914-4037; Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931