Romanow has it right, says AFL

EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour, representing more than 120,000 unionized workers from across the province, has expressed strong support for the key recommendations of the final report released today by Roy Romanow's Commission on the Future of Health Care.

"Mr. Romanow has presented us with a blue-print for reform that, if implemented, will revitalize Medicare and guarantee it's long-term good health," says AFL president Les Steel.

"This is probably the best chance we'll ever get to save Medicare from the privatizers and preserve it for future generations. Canadians now have to put pressure on their elected representative to make sure they don't squander this historic opportunity."

Steel says the Romanow report is particularly important here in Alberta because it shows that de-listing, down-loading and privatization are not the only options available to us.

"The Klein government has worked hard over the past few years to convince Albertans that there is no alternative to privatization in health care," says Steel. "But the Romanow report demonstrates just how wrong the Alberta Tories are. It shows that privatization doesn't work and that it is not in the best interests of ordinary citizens."

Steel says that he has some reservations about the Romanow report - but none that are serious enough to justify rejecting it.

"We would have preferred it if Romanow hadn't given the green light to privatization in non-medical service like laundry and food preparation in hospitals," he says.

"In his report Mr. Romanow conclusively demonstrates that the private sector costs more and delivers less when it comes to core medical services. We think the same logic applies to non medical services. If fact, here in Alberta we've had a lot of experience with privatization in things like hospital laundry and dietary service. The record shows that very little money has been saved - and quality has suffered. Cleaning hospital rooms and hospital laundry is not the same as cleaning in a hotel."

Steel says he is also disappointed that Romanow didn't recommend a more aggressive mechanism for enforcing the principles of the Canada Health Act.

"The Alberta government has already made it clear it intends to go ahead with reforms outlined in the Mazankowski report - reforms that run entirely contrary to the vision presented by Romanow. We would have liked to have seen some kind of enforcement mechanism that would stop provincial governments from standing in the way of progressive, public sector reform."

However, despite these concerns, Steel says the AFL is extremely pleased with the report produced by the Romanow commission.

"The bottom line is that it reinforces what we've been saying for years and what ordinary Canadians believe themselves - namely that the best solutions for reform can be found within the public system, not the private sector."

For more information call:

Les Steel, AFL President  @  780-483-3021 (wk) or 780-499-4135 (cell)

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