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Gone are the Days of Romanow

Last week the Council of Canadians with public health care allies organized several events throughout Halifax to provide Atlantic Canadians and the media with context on the Health Ministers meeting: what is the 2014 Health Accord, why are the ministers meeting now, what does a health accord do, and what should we be demanding of our leaders?

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”1624″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image alignleft size-medium wp-image-12299″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”240″,”height”:”180″,”title”:”Maude speaking at media conference- Halifax, November 24th”,”alt”:””}}]]To answer those questions the Council and Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network organized a media conference with MLA Gary Burrill, Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU), Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM), Canadian Health Coalition (CHC), and the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat (CHPS). The message we really want to get out to Canadians is that this is your health care! Gone are the days of Roy Romanow and his fact seeking ways across Canada when he’s pull Canadians into discussions and conversations on health. This time around discussions are not happening between government and the public. Instead, the Health Ministers are hiding behind closed doors; the Federal government is reviewing the previous Accord in the majority conservative appointed, unelected senate and pro-public health care allies (like the CFNU, CHC) are being told that they will not be allowed to present to Senate. Meaning that the Senate will be conducting a review of the 2004 Health Accord and only listening to those whose opinions they think count (certainly not the pro-medicare crowd).

We need Canadians to get involved in health care policy, to tell their government to protect, strengthen and extend Medicare now and into the future. And there’s a lot to protect, strengthen and extend when it comes to health care.

Harper’s favourite line regarding health care is that it’s a “provincial” jurisdiction. What Harper is blatantly ignoring is the important role that the Federal government plays in enforcing the Canada Health Act. Illegal activity has been occurring under the act (remember Dr. Profit? Sadly, things have only gotten worse since he was in President of the Canadian Medical Association) and Harper has been turning a blind eye to all of it. While he could enforce that Act by withholding money from provinces that allow violations of the act to occur- such as extra-billing and user fees on medically necessary services- he has neglected to take any of these steps and has encouraged this type of behaviour by telling the public that we should allow provinces to “experiment with alternative service delivery”. Don’t be fooled, alternative service delivery is code-word for privatisation. As Maude will say, unless we stop him health care in Canada will suffer death by a thousand cuts. There will be no fallow swoop of the axe to health care, instead Harper will chip away at it bit-by-bit, as we’re seeing happen now.

Instead of hearing a call to slow the erosion of public health care in Canada, we’ve been hearing from Canadians across this country that they want to strengthen Medicare. In fact, that call is stronger now than it’s ever been! According to a new Nanos poll commissioned by the CHC, 94 per cent of Canadians support public over for-profit care, that’s up from 86 per cent just a year and a half ago.

Halifax Rally Outside the Ministers’ Meeting

Lastly, we need the 2014 health care accord to create stand alone legislation on areas like continuing care, pharmacare, mental health services, and dental care. If we were to place these items under the Canada Health Act we worry that the Harper government would try to remove pieces of the Act. Therefore, stand alone legislation is the only way to protect and extend medicare and make sure that Canadians have comprehensive, from cradle-to-grave care across Canada.

Lastly, we need the 2014 health care accord to create stand alone legislation on areas like continuing care, pharmacare, mental health services, and dental care. If we were to place these items under the Canada Health Act we worry that the Harper government would try to remove pieces of the Act. Therefore, stand alone legislation is the only way to protect and extend medicare and make sure that Canadians have comprehensive, from cradle-to-grave care across Canada.

Occupying the Health Ministers’ Podium

So if Roy Romanow is not coming to talk to us, how do we get Canadians voices heard? We go to them. And that’s what we’ve been doing. Through our voicemail system in

Ontario, our townhall and people’s agenda this past week in Nova Scotia (which included New Brunswickers and Islanders), the Council of Canadians will continue to organize events that include the voices of those living in Canada. We will take your voices to Parliamentarians when we lobby (like we’ll be doing with 98 MPs this Thursday!), we’ll set up action alerts with content from you (a new action alert will be out soon!), and we’ll work with Chapters and allies to make your needs and concerns about Canada’s health care heard. So please organize with us. If you’re planning chapter events on health care let me and your Regional Organizer know about it. Contact us if you have ideas or comments to share. And we’ll stay in touch with you.

This past week was amazing! We had lots of participation, lots of excited community members, and great media coverage. This week we have several events in Ottawa with activists and board members from across the country converging on the Hill. You can watch the Secure the Future of Medicare conference (with Roy Romanow and Andre Picard) live on Rabble.ca (Wednesday, November 30th 7-9:30pm ET) and you can participate by writing to your MLA, MPP, MP about what you need in the 2014 health care accord.

I’ll have lots more information on the event this week soon. But for now, check out CBC’s Maritime Noon (you can listen to the interview here) to hear Maude speaking on the 2014 Accord!