The Council of Canadians attended the annual Council of the Federation meeting in Whitehorse this week where premiers from across the country gathered to tackle some of the most urgent issues facing Canadians.
Michael Butler's blog
Today more news broke on the cash-for-access scandal surrounding the Ontario Liberal Party. In the first three years of Premier Wynne’s mandate there were more than 150 cash-for-access fundraisers held by the party (this system has nearly tripled in size during the party’s 13 years in power). These events generally had tickets priced at between $5,000 and $10,000 a piece for exclusive access to the government’s most important MPs.
With the Health Accord set to fully expire in 2017, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has said, “that she would like a new Health Accord to be signed, sealed and delivered by year’s end. If that’s going to happen, negotiations have to begin in earnest now and the two (or more) sides have to make their positions clear by the time the First Ministers meet in Whitehorse in July.”
Health is a right and not a privilege. Yet, in Canada, there are an estimated 500,000 people, half of whom reside in Ontario, who are denied healthcare coverage due to their immigration status. This includes new immigrants in the three-month waiting period, temporary foreign workers between contracts, some international students, non-status individuals pending response to various immigration claims, and even returning Canadian citizens who have left the country for a period of time.
Today the Council of Canadians joined our allies from the Ontario Health Coalition as they delivered the results of a grassroots referendum on stopping hospital cuts in communities across Ontario. Over a thousand volunteers from across the province, including many Council of Canadians members and chapters, volunteered their time and energy to make the referendum possible. were asked to vote yes or no as to whether Ontario’s government should stop the cuts to community hospitals and restore services to meet the population need for care.
Canadians are getting older, that is no secret. While this doesn’t mean we are heading to some fiscal cliff where we can’t support public services, like the neoliberal think tanks would have you believe, it does mean we need to be honest with ourselves about challenges we will face in the near future (a national seniors strategy might be a place to start).
If you haven’t been following the ongoing saga of ‘Canadian’ drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals, you probably aren’t alone. While news stories over the past year found their bombastic villain in pharma-bro Martin Shkreli (and fairly so), it could be argued that his price gouging model is based of Valeant.
In previous blogs, big pharma’s influence on trade deals like the TPP and the negative consequences for Canadians was uncovered. The topic is inherently broad and often quite technical, so as a result the downstream outcomes people face as a result of pharma policy tend to be obscured. The recent opioid epidemic destroying lives across Canada and the US serves as the clearest example of the influence of big pharma has physician prescribing habits. This epidemic serves as a heartbreaking reminder of what occurs when our government allows big pharma to undemocratically influence our policies.
In the last four articles on the TPP and Big Pharma, the discussion looked at a variety of topics ranging from how trade deals are largely driven by the interests of the pharma lobby, create a policy chill and could preclude universal pharmacare, will only further increase inequitable access to medication, only serve to cement high drug costs in Canada, are in the interests of drug companies’ patents over patients, have nothing to do with more R&D, limit R&D transparency, will perpetuate junk science R&D, and so on and so on....