NDP cutting health care in Saskatchewan
May 18, 2004
Health care cuts amount to privatization by stealth, says CUPE
REGINA: The union representing over 12,000 health service providers in
Saskatchewan says the health care cutbacks announced today by the provincial
government will lead to privatization by stealth.
Stephen Foley, president of the CUPE Health Care Council, called the
announcement by Health Minister John Nilson that the province would be
closing 90 beds and chopping at least 325 health care jobs "unacceptable."
"This NDP government certainly didn't get elected on a platform of cutting
health care and setting the stage for the privatization of long-term care,"
said Foley. "The people of Saskatchewan want a publicly funded and delivered
health care system, which was a central part of the NDP's election mandate."
Foley noted that 50 long-term care beds would be closed in the initial round
of cuts, "which doesn't make sense given the province's aging population."
He noted that the province's Health Services Utilization and Research
Commission estimated that the proportion of Saskatchewan seniors would
increase to 15 percent of the total population by 2015.
"We also have one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world,
and nearly two-thirds of our long-term residents suffer from dementia - much
higher than other provinces," he said. "So Saskatchewan needs more, not
fewer, long-term care beds."
The provincial government has overseen a rapid expansion in private
long-term care over the last decade, Foley said. The number of publicly
funded long-term care beds in Saskatchewan has dropped by 8.4 percent since
1996, while the number of private-for-profit beds has increased by 63
The bed closures announced by Health Minister Nilson today will only
intensify the privatization of long-term care, he said.
"The Calvert government should expand - not reduce - public long-term care
beds and home care in this province."
- 30 -
For more information contact Stephen Foley at 861-7529