The protests and animosity that marked the Gordon Campbell government's first term in office will surely return if the B.C. government tries to move ahead with a two-tier health-care system, said Brad Dunlop, president of the North Okanagan Labour Council.
"A two-tier health-care system only provides better care for those who can afford to pay for it," said Dunlop. "For the rest of us, working and non-working British Columbians, the ideas floated in last week's Throne Speech will result in longer waiting times and less care."
In the speech, the Campbell government talked extensively about overhauling the B.C. health-care system.
"A lot of code words were used that mean the same thing -- heavy privatization and a two-tier health-care system are what Gordon Campbell envisions for B.C.," said Dunlop.
"What else could the premier mean when he's questioning the definition of universality and accessibility and asks 'Why are we so afraid to look at mixed health-care delivery models'?"
"Weakening the public health-care system will not improve it," said Dunlop. "The answer to making our health-care system the envy of the world is to make a strong commitment to the public system, and give it the resources it needs, which includes paying our health workers decently and treating them with respect to encourage them to stay."
Dunlop said he is concerned a two-tier health system will result in a two-tier wage system, which will only help to increase the brain drain from the public health system.
"Instead of pouring money into private operating theatres, as the Interior Health Authority has done, and funding European junkets for Liberal politicians, the government should announce in today's budget that it will use that money instead to strengthen the public system.""
"All privatization has brought us so far is longer wait lists, dirty hospitals, substandard food services, overcrowded emergency rooms, lack of long-term beds and underpaid, overworked health-care employees."
Dunlop said the NOLC will strongly support efforts to save public health care.
"Premier Campbell had better expect some pretty intense opposition if he tries to proceed with this two-tier plan, and the North Okanagan Labour Council will play an active role in fighting to preserve health-care for everyone, not just a wealthy few."