Photo: The audience at last night's forum. Photo by Maude Barlow.
Yesterday evening about 300 people gathered to hear Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, CUPE president Paul Moist, and former Manitoba Minister of Health Tim Sale speak in defence of public health care at the Canad Inns Club Regent in Winnipeg. The town hall featured in-depth discussions on how health care funding cuts will affect services for Manitobans, and explored effective ways to expand public health care to better serve the changing needs of Canadians - such a public home care, long-term care and a national pharmacare program.
The morning of this town hall, a joint op-ed by Barlow and Moist appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. To read 'End of a deal: Health accord's expiry imperils health care', please click here.
Barlow has commented, "With fair federal funding, we can create the health care system we need, with quality public health care for every Manitoban and every Canadian. But when the federal government let the 2004 Health Accord expire and refused to negotiate a new agreement with the provinces and territories, it walked away from its responsibility to protect our public health care system."
Last night, Barlow stated, "We are at the most important moment in the history of Medicare. ...Every generation needs to re-fight the struggle for medicare." She also highlighted, "They are quietly dismantling our public systems and bringing in trade deals to lock in deregulation." Moist noted, "We need a line of people from one end of Canada to the other to defend Medicare and take back our country!" And Sale said, "There are best practices in every province that need to be shared across the country. ...Public Pharmacare would cover everyone and save Canadians billions."
Audience members also shared their stories about why they support Canada's public health care system. Comments included:
- "Friends of mine died in the 1990s because drug approvals were too slow for HIV/AIDS drugs"
- "This federal government is waging a war on women. Women rely on health care more than men."
- "I would have died three times without Medicare. It's true you can ask my mom."
- "When I have drug coverage my life is so much better, I can get the drugs I need. Please more Medicare!"
- "The new Human Rights Museum should have a whole section dedicated to health care. Health care is a human right!"
Last night's town hall meeting is the first of a series of forums across the country. The next town hall with Barlow and Moist will be in Moncton on April 23 at the New Brunswick Community College. Then on April 29 they will be speaking in Bridgewater at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Centre.
For more event details, please see the Save Our Health Care website.