Protection of Canada's not-for-profit health care is a critical part of supporting families says CUPE

    OTTAWA, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE) called on Canada's political leaders to include protection of
not-for-profit health care in their platform to support families.
    "Our health care system is under attack from creeping privatization,
thanks to actions by some provincial governments and neglect by the federal
government," said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. "Further, the
federal government has been ignoring concerns that NAFTA investment rules put
the Canadian health care system at risk. Now, these concerns are becoming
substantiated in a law suit filed recently by an American investor."
    Both Liberal and Conservative governments have maintained that Canada's
medicare system is protected from American-style privatization under the North
American Free Trade Agreement. But Arizona businessman Melvin J. Howard is
about to test the boundaries.
    Howard has filed legal papers that could lead to arbitration against the
Canadian government under provisions of NAFTA that permit foreign investors to
sue government for investment loss.
    Howard and his financial backers claim to have lost $4 million in
expenses and add an additional $150 million in lost profit after a failed
attempt to invest in the BC health care system. The BC system has become
increasingly open to foreign investment and privatization.
    "For everyone who thought health care was safe from NAFTA, this is a
reality check," says Moist. "This election, we need a government that is
willing to protect our public health system, not bury its head in the sand
while our health care system is undermined by increased privatization.
Protection of our health care system must be part of our leaders' platforms on
addressing the needs of our Canadian families."
    "The threat also exposes the serious risks that follow from the
privatization schemes British Columbia and other provinces have allowed to
creep into their health care systems," says trade lawyer Stephen Shrybman.
"NAFTA threatens to transform that modest flow, if it is not immediately
abated, into a torrent."

For further information:

For further information: Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613)
558-2873; Allison Gifford, CUPE Communications, (613) 484-2571

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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