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The Health Ministers Begin Their Talks on the 2014 Canada Health Accord

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”1623″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-11848″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”240″,”height”:”180″,”title”:”img_0206″,”alt”:””}}]]This month has been BUSY! After an enormously successful conference in Montreal-mostly due to our amazing Quebec partners and my uber organized colleagues-the health care campaign has gone on full speed ahead!

The health care ministers from each province and territory in Canada will be meeting November 24th– 25th in Halifax. This will be the first gathering of the Ministers with Leona Aglukkaq to discuss the 2014 Health Care Accord. And we’re not about to let the opportunity go by without reminding them that the health care system their discussing belongs to all of us.

So we’ve planned a couple of events to get that message to them:

November 24th, 10 a.m. the Council of Canadians and the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network have planned a press conference. MLA and Ministerial Assistant for the Department of Health, Garry Ramey, will be hosting our event. Maude Barlow along with pro-public health care allies from labour, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat and pro-public health care organizations such as the Canadian Health Coalition will be speaking to the press and public about the need to protect, strengthen and extend Medicare. We want to protect health care from further privatization. We want to the Canadian government to guarantee the six per cent escalating transfer for the duration of another ten-year health accord and tie that funding to public, not-for-profit health care and national standards. Lastly, we want health care to be extended to areas such as pharmacare, mental health, vision care, dental care, and the continuum of care (palliative, chronic, long-term and home).

November 24th, 6:30 p.m. the Council of Canadians and the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network are hosting a Townhall and People’s Agenda on 2014. Our keynote address will be delivered by Maude Barlow. Maude will be followed by several short talks on innovation in the public sector. These talks will be delivered by: Linda Silas, Canadian Federation of Nurses Union; Elisabeth Ballaston, Canadian Health Professional Services; Bill Swan, asthma and mental health patient; and Kyle Buott, NSCHN. After a short question and answer session audience members will be asked to participate in several round table discussions on the 2014 Health Accord. We’re hoping participants will tell us what they want in their health care. We (a network of pro-public health care organizations including: labour, non-governmental, citizens’ and health care professionals) need to have a mandate from the people of Canada on what they want in the 2014 Health Care Accord. I really hope many of you can join us that evening and that you speak up and share your thoughts, concerns, and hopes for the next Accord.

November 25th, 12 p.m. In Victoria Park (downtown Halifax on the corner of South Park and Spring Garden) the Council, NSCHCN and many pro-public health care allies will be gathering in Victoria Park across the street from where the Health Ministers will be meeting. We’ll be rallying in support of public health care and under the banner “Protect, Strengthen, and Extend Medicare”. We have lots of activities planned for the rally so please watch for updates and join us if you’re in the area!

See www.2014healthaccord.ca for more information!

During the last Accord the people of Canada didn’t have their voices heard. We’re not going to let that happen again. For this Accord to strengthen health care in Canada we need everyone’s voice. Prime Minister Harper and his conservative cabinet have shown no interest in protecting public health care and have refused to enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act. Our health care system is deteriorating through the reliance on more for-profit health care delivery. Harper is smart enough not to get rid of public health care in one fallow swoop, instead he’ll chip away at it bit-by-bit.

We’ve already seen many of his cuts: increased privatization, allowing user fees and extra billing in many provinces, claiming that health care is “unsustainable”, taking away funding from the provinces and then claiming that health care is taking up a larger chunk of provincial budgets, cutting the budgets of organizations that work with those living in poverty (a major social determinant of health), and more.

We’ve watched the Harper government refuse to take accountability. The Harper government claims that health care is entirely within the jurisdiction of the provinces. The Canada Health Act states otherwise. And when pressed to answer questions about public health care spending, Harper says it’s up to the provinces and that he won’t “punish” them for experimenting with alternative service delivery. To translate, Harper is refusing to enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act and is allowing provinces to illegally bill patients and to further privatize the system to for-profit companies.

We’ve also seen the Harper government decrease transparency with Canadians. This is perhaps the least transparent government Canada has ever seen. CETA is an appropriate example of this. The Harper government has been meeting only behind closed doors to discuss the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe. With leaked copies of the negotiation in hand Economists were able to crunch the numbers and see that the proposed changes to the Intellectual Property Chapter for pharmaceuticals would mean an additional $2.8 billion a year out-of-the-pockets of those living in Canada and needing prescription drugs and their provincial insurance providers, and into the hands of major European Pharmaceutical companies. But Harper won’t talk about any of it. He won’t even allow Canadians to see the provincial offers that have been given to the Europeans. He won’t allow us to discuss how much of our country, our sovereignty, our money, our health he’s willing to trade away!

The 2014 Health Care Accord is about more than a six per cent escalating transfer of funds (although that’s also really important). The 2014 Accord is about ensuring that everyone in Canada has access to comprehensive health care, from cradle-to-grave. It’s about phase two of Tommy Douglas’ plan. It’s about Canadian values of looking after one another. It could ensure that people aren’t taking advantage of our community, friends and neighbours when they are sick and in desperate need of care.

I really hope you can make it to the events on November 24th-25th. If you’re unable to make it this time I assure you that there are many more events being planned and scheduled. We’re also working on some action items now that you’ll be able to participate in no matter where you live. I’ll have more on those shortly, so please watch for them on our website and in our emails.

And that billboard in the picture, it’s new! For those in Halifax, please check it out: corner of Almon and Gottingen! For more photos see our Flicker page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/councilofcanadians/