18 chapters take part in day of action for a new health accord

Michael Butler in Brampton
Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler speaks outside Conservative MP Bal Gosal's constituency office yesterday.

Eighteen Council of Canadians chapters protested yesterday to mark the one year anniversary of the expiry of the Canada Health Accord, to condemn the $36 billion in reduced funding that will come with the Harper government's new funding formula for health care, and to call for a new health accord.

The chapters that took part in the day of action were St. John's, Charlottetown, Halifax (in the Atlantic region), Peel Region, Sudbury, Windsor-Essex (in Ontario-Quebec), Edmonton, Calgary, Regina (in the Prairies-NWT region), and Nelson, Vancouver, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Alberni, Mid-Island, Kamloops, Kelowna, Victoria (in BC-Yukon).

The Brampton Guardian reports, "A sometimes boisterous rally, organized to focus national attention on what participants consider the critical condition of the federal government’s health care funding arrangement with the provinces, turned the heads of passersby the constituency office of Bramalea-Gore-Malton MP Bal Gosal this afternoon. The Council of Canadians, Peel Chapter and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) staged the local demonstration as part of the National Day of Action for a new Health Accord."

The article notes, "The federal government will be slashing $36 billion in health care spending over 10 years beginning in 2017, said organizers who warn the funding reduction threatens to dismantle the public system. That includes what amounts to $198 million in cuts for Bramalea-Gore-Malton constituents, according to Michael Butler, National Health Care Campaigner with the Council of Canadians." Butler says, "It really is a federal election issue. We’re trying to raise awareness within the Canadian population, one that really does believe that health care must be universal and must be public for all Canadians."

The Scarborough Mirror adds, "A large crowd of universal health care supporters held a rally outside the offices of Scarborough Centre Conservative MP Roxanne James’ constituency office... The noon hour rally at James’ Midland Avenue office was part of a 'day of action to save public health care' organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Council of Canadians. ...Scarborough Centre residents would see $115 million less in health funding, organizers said."

In addition, VOCM reports, "About 40 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians including members of the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Health Coalition, politicians and other allies joined together at the Ramada Hotel in St. John's to protest the loss of the Accord, and the cuts that proceeded it."

Council of Canadians St. John's chapter activist and Board member Ken Kavanagh also had a letter to the editor published in the Telegram yesterday. In it he wrote, "We in the Council of Canadians call upon Stephen Harper to enforce the Canada Health Act, negotiate a new health accord that returns federal transfers to their traditional levels, and implement a national pharmacare and home care program to enhance and strengthen our health care system for the benefit of all Canadians."

And the Kelowna News reports, "More than 50 people turned out a national day of action rally in front of Kelowna General Hospital, Tuesday. Hospital Employees Union (HEU) members and supporters gathered to draw attention to $36 billion in cuts to federal health-care transfers over the next decade to B.C. and other provinces. In B.C., the reductions mean $5 billion less for hospitals and other health services, according to Ken Robinson, vice-president of the HEU. ...BCTF [British Columbia Teachers Federation] and Council of Canadians members also joined the rally."

Photos of Council of Canadians chapters, Board members, staff and their allies in action yesterday:
 

In terms of next steps, Butler has highlighted, "In the next federal election it is crucial that Canadians #votehealth to save our public health care system. This means demanding federal parties clearly promise to protect and expand our public health care system by reversing the Conservative cuts."

For more on the Council of Canadians health care campaign, please click here.

Further reading
Council of Canadians chapters to take part in National Day of Action for a New Health Accord (March 2015 blog)