CURC

CURC joins Edmonton rally to demand new health care deal with Feds

CURC members show the flag at Alberta’s Rally for Public Health Care in July. (Photo thanks to Abdul Malik)

Edmonton – Provincial Premiers meeting in Edmonton in mid-July were challenged by a loud Rally for Public Health Care telling them to demand fair funding for our medicare system in their negotiations with the federal government.

The 200-strong rally, which took place outside the Fairmont Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton, was organised by the Friends of Medicare and Edmonton members of the Canadian Health Coalition. A contingent of seniors from the Edmonton Area Council of the Congress of Union Retirees (CURC) added their voices to a broad spectrum of community, union and other groups concerned with the state of health care.

All were concerned that, instead of negotiating a national health accord, the Trudeau government was pressuring provinces into take-it-or-leave-it side deals that will further shortchange the provinces. Alberta alone stands to lose $3.43 billion over 10 years – an amount that could cover 524 new public long-term care spaces each year!

Judy Lederer, President of the Edmonton Area Council of CURC, talked about a growing crisis in seniors’ care, pointing out that a growing shortfall in long-term care facilities provides still another reason why the Trudeau Government must get serious about a new health accord.

“Four thousand long-term care beds are needed to meet Alberta’s needs,” said Lederer. “Because of insufficient funding, there has been a steady decline, especially since the early 1990s.”

“Alberta’s NDP government has begun to address this crisis, but their 2017 budget announcement of 345 new publicly funded beds are only a drop in the bucket when we consider the true size of the deficit.”

The Raging Grannies provided musical accompaniment. (Photo thanks to Abdul Malik)

Lederer closed her comments with a 1979 quote from the father or Medicare, Tommy Douglas, who said, “We can’t stand still. We can either go back, or we can go forward!”

“This is the choice we have to make,” she said. “This is why we want the Premiers to get back to the bargaining table with the federal government to sign a new accord.”

Organisation flags and banners decorated the rally, and music was provided by the Raging Grannies. Sixteen Edmonton-area members were joined by Lucien Royer, President of the Alberta Federation of Union Retirees (AFUR) to carry CURC banners. Presidents of provincial labour federations who came to meet the Premiers added their voices to the rally, along with the National Nurses Union, health organisations and unions.

See photos of the rally on the Friends of Medicare Face Book at https://www.facebook.com/friendsofmedicare/

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