‘Conservative premiers will bring in American-style health care if we don’t stop them,’ say labour federation presidents

Provincial labour federations join the plea to PM to invest and save Canada’s public health care

EDMONTON - The presidents of provincial labour federations are putting pressure on the federal government to step up their contributions to public health care and protect Canada’s public system from Conservative right-wing provincial privatization schemes.

Through letters to Prime Minister Trudeau, on behalf of workers across their provinces, federation presidents call for improvements to the capacity of our publicly-funded and publicly-delivered health-care system. This comes in response to some provincial governments throwing open the door to private, for-profit health services – funneling public dollars into the pockets of private corporations and their shareholders by outsourcing medical procedures that will further burden the public system with more costly and complicated care requirements.

“Care workers are at their breaking point,” says Karen Kuprys, Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer. “I worked the bulk of my career as a geriatric nurse in long-term care, and I see my former colleagues and friends leaving the industry for good because of the psychological pressure of trying to deliver the best care with inadequate resources. Canada cannot emerge stronger from this pandemic unless we retain workers with pandemic experience and build a system that can adequately respond to the needs of everyone.”

Jason Kenney’s 2022 budget includes expanding private surgery centres. He has championed that this will help to reduce wait times that have increased over the pandemic. However, nothing could be further from the truth, building surgical capacity will take years and will drain human resources away from the public system.

We must recognize that the pandemic has highlighted several weaknesses in our care system. The solution to filling these gaps and shortcomings in our public system is sustainable, appropriate funding and better planning, not duplicating services in a private shadow system. Private clinics are in direct conflict with the pride that Canadians feel when we talk about our universal, quality public health-care system.

“The fact that our public health care is so effective speaks volumes about the workers and what they can accomplish under unimaginable pressure,” says Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour. “There is so much more to care than ventilators and needlesticks. Without the people trained and prepared to deliver the care, our system would collapse.”

Health care workers provide so much to people, the emotional and social support needed when facing illness. Labour representatives are also desperately asking for a national workforce plan to address the critical staff shortages that have been exasperated by COVID-19. We must ensure that all money coming from the federal government is invested into our public health system and stop those who want to undermine it and profit from it. Using public funds for private services violates the Canadian Health Act but recent attacks show us we must be vigilant in protecting our public health care.


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
[email protected]