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UPDATE: More than 250 people at health care forum in Victoria tonight

People gathering for the town hall meeting this evening. Photo by Adrienne Silnicki.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki, and organizing assistant Ava Waxman are in Victoria today demanding a Canada Health Accord that defends and expands public health care.

This morning at 8 am PT, Silnicki participated in a ‘Medicare has us covered’ youth-action with people holding red umbrellas outside the hotel where the premiers were meeting. She reports, “The visual was awesome and when we walked around the back to a wall of windows where the premiers were eating they saw us.” Official Opposition health critic Libby Davies and deputy health critic Anne Minh-Thu Quac came out to express their support for the action. The action itself was organized by the Council of Canadians, check your head, the British Columbia Health Coalition, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, and others.

By 9:20 am PT, a media conference was underway featuring Barlow, Vince Terstappen of Check Your Head, Val Avery of NUPGE, and Dr. Vanessa Brcic of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. The media release for this quotes Barlow saying, “The Harper government should be looking across Canada to find best practices in health care and tie their implementation to an accord based on predictable, sustained federal funding that includes a six percent escalator for a full ten years.” Media present included CTV National News, CBC TV, CBC Radio, and RDI.

By early afternoon, the Globe and Mail was reporting, “Canada’s premiers are blasting Ottawa’s new health funding formula as ‘unprecedented and unacceptable’. Confronted with a ‘non-negotiable’ plan for a decade of health care transfers, the premiers assembled in Victoria Monday hoping to come up with a plan to recoup potential losses under the flag of innovation. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought them up short, telling CBC there will be no more cash from Ottawa and urging the premiers to figure out their innovation efforts with what is on the table. B.C. Premier Christy Clark, host of this year’s Council of the Federation, emerged from a morning meeting to say the talks must go on. ‘The premiers were unanimous that the federal government’s decision to unilaterally decide funding is both unprecedented and unacceptable,’ she told reporters.”

In response, by 2:30 pm PT, Silnicki had prepared a media release stating, “The Council of Canadians is hopeful after an announcement delivered by Premier Christy Clark today at a Council of the Federation meeting in Victoria, B.C. Clark said that the premiers have agreed to work together and demand accountability from the federal government on the 2014 health care accord. ‘We’re very concerned about the protection of the Canada Health Act under the Harper government. If Harper continues on his current path, health care is going to become fragmented across Canada with some provinces being able to offer more services than others,’ says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. ‘It is essential that Premiers stand together with the people of Canada and demand accountability from the federal government.'”

Then starting at 6:30 pm PT (less than an hour ago), with local media warning of a ‘snow blizzard’ to come this evening, Silnicki reports that more than 250 people have assembled for a public forum at the Da Vinci Centre. Barlow, Diana Gibson of the Parkland Institute, and Mike Luff of NUPGE are presenting. This public forum is being video-taped and will soon be posted to our website.

For blogs related to the Canada Health Accord talks, please see