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National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

Public services define a country

James Clancyby Jane Aitchison

James Clancy, President of Canadian public services union NUPGE (National Union of Public and General Employees) highlighted the ongoing struggle against privatisation in his country.

NUPGE has members across a whole range of public services. About one fifth of its membership are in privatised services. Privatision is one of the key challenges for his union representing about 340,000 workers.

Canada was hit hard when its Government tried to follow the examples set by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s. The pressure to privatise public services has never let up since then. A significant area of the union's representation is in Medicare, which is a public health care system much like the NHS

There is tremendous pressure to privatise this service and open it up to market forces.The influences from the neighbouring United States and cross border media don't help with the hard sell on private health insurance and private health services delivery.

According to James, public services define a country and its communities and that is evidenced in the way that Canada has developed as opposed to the United States - the provision of a universal public health care system makes for a more humane country.