It’s the last meeting of the provincial Premiers before the 10-year 2004 health accord expires. With the expiry of that accord, so too goes any concerted effort to implement a national strategy to fix health care.
July 24-25 the Premiers will get together at Niagara-on-the-Lake. We’ll be there too alongside community and labour representatives from across Canada gathered to send a united message that a public health strategy is essential to address the changing needs of our nation.
In fact, with no accord past 2014, there won’t be national targets for such issues as wait times, emergency room access, or coverage for catastrophic drug costs. Nor will the Health Council of Canada be in existence to monitor those targets. The Harper government has already said the Health Council will be dismantled with the end of the accord.
Download the registration form here: Shadow Summit Registration Form
Details re Toronto Region 5 bus to the rally at right.
While the Federal government is the fifth largest direct provider of public health care in Canada, they oddly don’t think they have a place at the table when it comes to deciding how to best support the health needs of everyone in this country.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has told the provinces they will continue to get six per cent increases in federal health transfers until after the next election. Then the funding will slide up and down with the economy – essentially reducing funding at precisely the moments when it is most needed.
Our Medicare system is basically the same one that came into being in 1966. It’s heavily focused on acute care delivery – the definition of essential health care mostly confined to doctors and hospitals.
The reality is our population is aging and health care needs are changing. So are the places from which health care is delivered. We have great need for better chronic and long-term care. We need to move beyond the patchwork systems of home care, something former Royal Commissioner Roy Romanow called the next essential service. This spring the movement for universal public drug coverage has been gathering steam as the analysis shows that Pharmacare could save billions of dollars in health care costs. Last year a national mental health strategy was unveiled — it will take considerable political will to get it implemented.
We also need a response to the slow shrinking of our public Medicare system, from the deliberate withdrawal of government coverage for rehab services to the abandonment of refugees seeking needed care.
Activists are coming to Niagara-on-the-lake precisely because Canada is at a crossroads with regard to its public health system. Powerful forces are pushing us towards a more U.S.-style system dominated by private for-profit interests. All the evidence suggests that it is a comprehensive public system that offers both affordability and the best quality to all citizens.
July 24th a “Shadow Summit” will take place at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-lake beginning at 10:30 am. Among the numerous sponsors is the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) – the national umbrella that OPSEU belongs to.
Speakers and workshops will discuss the federal abdication from critical issues around health care as well as what we can do nationally to advance the agenda on mental health, long-term care, social determinants of health and more.
Keynote address will come from Dr. Alex Himelfarb, the former clerk of the privy council under Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Himelfarb is presently on the advisory committee of Canadians for Tax Fairness.
July 25th the summit continues to 11 am, when everyone will gather outside the church to march towards the Premiers’ meeting. Provincial Premiers will be invited to come out and address our concerns during the late morning rally.
Arrive early and get your free red umbrella
OPSEU will be providing a limited number of free red umbrellas to our member activists who arrive early and identify themselves. The red umbrella is a symbol of Medicare – covering us all in times of need. Bring it to the rally on Thursday!
Download an event poster here: 2013 07 24-HealthCareAccord-Poster
We can lament opportunities lost, or we can help shape history by standing up for a comprehensive public health care system that serves all. See you there.
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