April 6, 2006

News release

NDP leader speaks to labour council

KELOWNA -- The strengthened New Democrat opposition has succeeded in moderating some of the policies of Gordon Campbell's Liberal government, NDP leader Carole James told the North Okanagan Labour Council Wednesday.

In the May 17, 2005 election, the NDP went from two seats in the Legislature to 33, and the extra MLAs have made a difference, James said.

Referring to the recent spate of contracts the government signed with public-sector unions after years of legislated contracts and union-government hostility, James said of the Liberals: "They know they can't get away with the kinds of things they did in the first four years.

"The Liberal government won't change, but they'll certainly have a harder time implementing their agenda."

James said health care is a priority for the NDP in the legislature and told the union delegates: "This region has certainly suffered under the Liberals when it comes to health care, and we'll continue to call for a full review," she said.

The Interior Health Authority has been rocked in recent weeks by the Albo case in Trail, in which an elderly couple was separated by health authorities and both died shortly after. In Kelowna, code purples, indicating a full hospital, have become a common feature at Kelowna General Hospital.

James was told by one delegate that Windsor Manor, a Kelowna care home, plans to lay off staff and contract out the jobs to lower-paid workers, as is permitted under provincial legislation. What effect this will have on residents does not appear to be a concern.

Another delegate asked James to speak out against plans to build three new B.C. ferries in Europe.

"We're subsidizing shipbuilding industries in Germany and Poland," James said.

A Kelowna firefighters' representative thanked James and the NDP for supporting presumptive cancer legislation, in which firefighters no longer have to prove to the Workers' Compensation Board that certain kinds of cancer are job related.

James said it was a good example of where the NDP will work with the government if they're willing to help make life better for working people.



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