Public services FOR ALL fight poverty - Oxfam Canada and CUPE support global call to action



    OTTAWA, Sept. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Oxfam Canada and the Canadian Union of
Public Employees join Oxfam International in launching a global call for
"Health and Education For All" today, aimed at increasing financial and
political support for strong public services, including the hiring of six
million more teachers, nurses and doctors in the global south.
    The campaign calls on developing country governments to allocate an
increased proportion of their annual budgets into providing these vital public
services. It also demands that rich countries support poorer nations with an
increased and long-term aid commitment targeting the health and education
sectors.
    Oxfam International's "For All" campaign briefing, released today, shows
universal education and health services are possible in even the poorest
countries. It shows that public services make a dramatic difference in ending
poverty, particularly for women and girls. For example, Uganda and Brazil have
doubled the number of children in school, halved AIDS deaths and extended safe
drinking water and sanitation to millions of people. In Sri Lanka, where
one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, public clinics with
free medical treatment and qualified nurses are within walking distance.
    In Canada, Oxfam and CUPE have joined forces to engage Canadians in the
challenge to sign the global petition and to pressure the Canadian government
to provide more and better aid. Equally important is a commitment to ensure
that Canadian development assistance doesn't fund privatization, and that
Canada stop promoting privatization through international finance institutions
like the World Bank.
    "Public health workers and teachers are heroes who are delivering health
care and education against almost impossible odds. We need 6 million more like
them, and it is an achievable goal." said Robert Fox, executive director for
Oxfam Canada. "The 'For All' campaign is calling on every government in the
world to take the responsibility for providing quality basic public services
for all its citizens. We are calling on Canada to increase direct budget
support to poor country governments to help them reach their health and
education goals."
    "Public services are powerful anti-poverty tools. We owe it to every
woman, man and child to give them a fighting chance in life and I can think of
no better way than joining this call for action," says CUPE National President
Paul Moist. "And let's learn from privatization's many problems in Canada. We
must not export this failed model to countries building their health, water,
sanitation and education systems."
    The campaign is clear that people living in poverty don't want charity;
they want the opportunity to build better lives. Without basic public
services, people have a hard time working their way out of poverty. This is
especially the case for women and girls, who must battle entrenched
discrimination. Oxfam and CUPE plan to campaign for improved public services
in Canada as well, including the dismal state of water systems in some First
Nations communities.
    Globally, Oxfam is aiming to gather 6 million signatures on its petition
by 2010 - the number of qualified teachers and health workers needed globally
to give every child the chance to be healthy and have an education.
    Working with allies around the world, "For All" will hold developed and
developing countries to account to ensure that they keep their promises to
ensure that health and education for all becomes a reality.
    "If governments and citizens get behind this call for action, we can
change the prospects for millions of women and children in our lifetime. The
global petition which started today will show leaders around the world that
the public demands health and education for all," says Fox.

    Campaign information is available at www.oxfam.ca and www.cupe.ca




For further information:

For further information: Alexandra Lopoukhine, Oxfam Communications,
(613) 237-5236 x 222, (613) 850-9723; Paul Moist, CUPE National President,
(613) 558-2873 (cell); Catherine Louli, CUPE Communications, (613) 851-0547


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