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Hamilton chapter annual general meeting features Butler and Chandrashekar

The Council of Canadians Hamilton chapter held its annual general meeting on Tuesday November 29.

Chapter activist Edward Reece tells us, “The featured speaker was Michael Butler, healthcare campaigner for the Council of Canadians who spoke on the topic ‘A Prescription For Better Medicine: Why Canadians Need A National Pharmacare Program’.”

Butler has stated, “Canada has the distinction of being the only developed country with a universal health care system that does not include prescription drug benefits for everyone. Our current fragmented system means higher drug costs for you, and huge profits for Big Pharma. Vested interests will try to tell you that pharmacare is too expensive. But evidence shows it is the key to affordability and accessibility. For far too long, Big Pharma has put profits before patients while our government has sat on the sidelines. From the current opioid crisis to the skyrocketing price of drugs, Canada’s pharmaceutical policies don’t serve the best interests of its people.”

He adds, “A universal pharmacare program would improve patient safety, prescribing appropriateness, therapeutic value, evidence-based drug evaluations, clinical trial transparency and drug monitoring, among other initiatives. We need better medicine, not more medicine. Canadians know that it is time for change, with 91 per cent of us supporting universal pharmacare. The missing ingredient? Federal leadership.”

Butler has encouraged people to tell the prime minister – through this action alert – that now is the time to make pharmacare a reality.

Reece highlights that, “The evening also featured the presentation of a community activism award to Shekar Chandrashekar for his scrutinizing of the Hamilton Police Board’s budget.”

In an opinion piece published earlier this year, Chandrashekar commented, “I have a difficult time understanding why generous benefits have continuously been approved for police officers such as annual merit increases which apply after the top rate has been reached, plus two additional weeks of vacation at the time of retirement. This clause is also contained in the contracts for Hamilton police deputies. It is unusual, in comparison to other police services, that our police services has a lawyer that reports directly to the chief. This raises questions about who drafted employment contracts for the chief and deputies, whether the contracts were excessively generous to them, and whether the contracts were sufficiently scrutinized by the Board.”

He adds, “It is easier to get blood from a stone than get information from Hamilton Police Services. Freedom of Information requests are turned down forcing concerned citizens to pursue the request through the Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Even at that point, requests can be unsuccessful and an appeal to the adjudicator required. Other services are very willing to fulfil freedom of information requests.”

To read Chandrashekar’s full article, please click here.

And Reece notes, “The annual general meeting also included a discussion of the national organization’s deficit crunch which resulted in a motion to donate $100 from the chapter to help with the deficit, and a review of the last year’s activities.”

For numerous blogs about Hamilton chapter actions, please click here.