A Trade Union Perspective on the Real Costs of the Third Way


March 30, 2006 :: Gil McGowan
Moderated by Ian McKenna

How will our provincial government''s Third Way proposals for health care affect Albertans? What will happen to our system when patients can "buy their way" to the front of the line for certain services?

Most criticism of the government''s plan has focused on obvious issues of equity, access and fairness. But there''s another big danger lurking in the shadows -- one that hasn''t received enough public attention. That''s the issue of substantially increased benefit costs for employers in the province.

Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour contends that the "third way" health-care reform package will force Alberta companies to spend more on employee benefits, thus creating a financial burden for business. Says McGowan: “Government and business should realize that, as the Medicare umbrella shrinks, employers are going to have to fill the holes that the Third Way will tear open in our health coverage. It will become a ''must do'' for businesses hoping to attract and retain quality employees.”

Presenter: Gil McGowan is President of the Alberta Federation of Labour and a member of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. He is author of three booklets on unions and the Alberta economy: Now More than Ever (1999); Missing Out on the Boom? (1998) and Crumbs from the Table (1997). Of particular note is his work between 1996 and 2003 with Friends of Medicare, where he was Communications Coordinator and a lead organizer and strategist for campaigns against Bill 37 and Bill 11 (bills aimed at legalizing for-profit hospitals in Alberta). McGowan organized some of the largest rallies in Alberta history, including major rallies against Bill 11 in Edmonton and Calgary. He is married with three children.

Special note: Immediately after lunch, Rebecca Thompson, soprano, will treat those present to Dvorak''s "Song to the Moon".


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