People's Voice commentary by Peter Marcus


The Hospital Employees' Union will hold its 31st Biennial Convention from November 4-9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver. The HEU is the oldest health care union in British Columbia, representing 49,000 members working for public, non-profit and private employers. It is the B.C. health care services division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

There are a plethora of struggles around health care for delegates to tackle at the convention. First and foremost will be the fight to preserve the public system against privatization and contracting out to transnational corporations and other profiteers, especially in the context of the Trudeau Government's sellout U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Agreement.

Health care workers are already facing a difficult time with those contracted out and privatized services, like housekeeping, laundry and  food services, which should be restored to the public realm. Long term care, which is mostly privately owned and operated, has been under HEU's microscope for a long time over working conditions and  living conditions and costs to residents. It would also be better run under public ownership and control.

Lack of funding and staffing plays right into the hands of privatizers like Dr. Brian Day, who is in court demanding the right to extra bill in an attempt to undermine the public system. 

Health care needs to be expanded. HEU supports the CLC's pharmacare campaign, and dental and eye care should be universally covered as well.

Health care is not only about health care workers and patients. but the kind of society we all live in. Environmental degradation including global climate change and endless wars sparked by imperial ventures around the globe, in which our country is involved, are health issues. 

The most recent danger lies in the renewed rise of fascism, exemplified by the Trump administration in the U.S., which encourages racism, sexism, homophobia and other hatreds, a divisive tool of big money. Homelessness, unemployment, underemployment, low-paying jobs with no rights or benefits, are breeding grounds for fascism, and are also health issues.

The problem is the profit system, which tries to block interference in its investments. Since unions undermine the maximizing of profits and investments, there is a constant employer offensive against organizing and maintaining unions on behalf of workers. We have seen that in B.C., where governments like Social Credit and the Campbell Liberals, on behalf of big business, went on the offensive against the labour movement. So long as this system persists, health workers and other working class people will face a difficult, uphill battle.

Keep up the fight! People's Voice brings greetings to the HEU convention and best wishes for success in its deliberations.


(The above article is from the November 1-15, 2018, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)