Premier Ralph Klein is up to his old tricks. Once again, he's trying to convince Albertans that Medicare is unsustainable and that the only way to "save" the system is to carve it up and hand it over to profit-seeking corporations.
Les Steel, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, says it's time for Albertans to demand that Klein remove his "ideological blinders" when dealing with issues of health care delivery and reform.
"There's no doubt that our health system is facing some problems - largely resulting from poor planning by both federal and provincial governments," says Steel.
"But to say that privatization and two-tier health care are the only solutions for these problems is false and deliberately misleading. The truth is that there are many options for reform within the public system - reforms that are consistent with the spirit and intent of Medicare. That's what Albertans really want: they want public reform, not knee-jerk privatization."
Steel says that if Premier Klein really wants to save Medicare and improve the way health services are delivered, he should embrace the blueprint for reform outlined last year in Roy Romanow's highly-acclaimed report on the future of health care in Canada.
"Mr. Romanow did two very important things in his report," says Steel. "First, he debunked the myth that private health care is cheaper and that it can somehow 'relieve pressure' on the public system. Second, he gave us a detailed roadmap for strengthening Medicare by keeping it public. The fact that Premier Klein continues to reject the Romanow model says a lot about his government's real motives."
By refusing to consider public sector options for reform, Premier Klein - along with Conservative leadership hopeful Belinda Stronach who recently expressed similar sentiments - is going against the wishes and best interests of the majority of Canadians, says Steel.
"If one positive thing can be taken from Klein and Stronach's outrageous statements about gutting the Canada Health Act, it's that it reveals their true colours," says Steel. "All the evidence shows that public health care is cheaper, more equitable and is better for both individuals and the economy. By coming out against the Canada Health Act, Klein and Stronach are showing that they are willing to put blind ideology and the interest of a few large corporations ahead of the interests of the broader population. Let's hope that voters remember that at election time."
For further information, contact:
Les Steel, AFL President at (780) 499-4135
Gil McGowan, AFL Communications at (780) 483-3021