Federation of Labour Presidents call on Premiers to stand up for health care

The Presidents of the provincial and territorial Federations of Labour are calling on Canada's Premiers to reject an irresponsible Federal Conservative "plan" for health care.

In an open letter from the labour leaders to the premiers, attending a meeting of the Council of the Federation in Victoria today, the Premiers are asked to stand up and support Canada's most important social program: universal health care.

"We believe, as many Canadians do, that the Harper Government's December announcement is an abdication of its responsibility. Our letter to the premiers is a call for true leadership on health care - leadership that we are not getting from Ottawa," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 145,000 workers.

"Harper's 'no-strings' approach to funding is a recipe to allow for increased privatization and two-tier health care, something that the vast majority of Canadians reject. The federal government has a duty to defend public health care, but Harper wants to abdicate from that responsibility," says McGowan.

As the federation presidents outline in their letter, the Harper Government has proposed significant cuts to health-care funding, beginning in 2017. The announced cuts come after the federal government made the decision to ignore the issue of establishing a new Health Accord, the latest of which is set to expire in 2014.

"In a style that has become typical of the Harper government, the provinces are going to be handed a take-it-or-leave-it decision without any meaningful dialogue whatsoever. If Prime Minister Harper is not willing to play a leadership role in securing the future of the health-care system, then the premiers must make a stand on behalf of Canadians, on behalf of the values upon which our nation and our health-care system are founded."

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Media contact: Gil McGowan, AFL president, 780-218-9888

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