Sean Meagher (ED of Canadian Doctors for Medicare) and lawyer Steven Shrybman discuss the potential threat to Canadian Medicare by the Charter challenge in the BC Supreme Court.
They had to dodge a marathon to get there, but it was worth it.
Participants at this weekend’s Ontario Health Coalition Action Assembly were in a buoyant mood despite the many challenges facing the health system.
Rather than finding defeat, activists took heart that Canadians still feel strongly about public Medicare despite a much more well-funded opposition from business elites.
The delegates crammed into a modest community centre gym where getting to a speaker’s microphone was at times a logistical challenge. It wasn’t lost on anyone that this low-budget grassroots organization was having a significant impact in defending our public health system as Director Natalie Mehra listed off successes the coalition has achieved over the past year.
“If the public was not with us Medicare would have been gone a long time ago,” said Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, who participated in a panel looking at how we push back.
Grinspun warned that “medical tourism” threatened to bring an end to the single tier system. If Ontario hospitals were selling a ticket to the front of the line to international patients with money, it was only a matter of time before rich Ontarians demanded the same right. That principle is what is keeping the RNAO fighting so hard on this issue.
Wednesday night’s panel on speciality clinics — Natalie Mehra, Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, Dr. Danielle Martin and Dr. John Lavis.
Dr. Danielle Martin looks uncomfortable discussing the government’s recent plan to move hospital services into so-called specialty clinics.
On the one hand the VP of Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital sees patients every day who she believes could be better served in a community-based setting. On the other, this transfer of services out of hospitals to local clinics runs many risks, including what Martin acknowledges could be “an erosion of Medicare.”
Speaking Wednesday night at a forum organized by the Medical Reform Group at OPSEU’s Toronto Wellesley Membership Centre, Martin admits that in many ways “the horse is already out of the barn.”
That is not in dispute.
Ontario already has 939 independent health facilities; of which 904 provide specific diagnostic tests such as diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine tests. The remaining 35 provide surgical or therapeutic procedures such as abortions, laser dermatology, and opthamology. Almost all of these independent health facilities are run on a for-profit basis.
In sports they call it plays of the week. For us, it’s just our way to address the pile up of issues surrounding health care this week.
Labour issues are very important to us given OPSEU presents more than 41,000 members who work in our health system, about 700 more having voted to join us in just the last month. They include health care workers at such diverse locations as Orillia’s Soldier’s Memorial Hospital, London Health Sciences, the Oshawa Health Centre and Trellis Mental Health and Development Services, located throughout much of Southern Ontario. Therefore the Ontario PC white paper proposing changes to the province’s labour laws certainly caught our attention. What was more surprising, as our translator pointed out, is the Tories rushed it out in English only. Do the Tories understand there are more than 580,000 francophones who live and vote here? The PC web site offers no French button like we do here at Diablogue.
Canadian Blood Services has announced it is opening a second National Contact Centre (NCC) in Saint John, New Brunswick. The announcement follows CBS’ closure of its blood distribution centre in that city earlier this year. The present NCC is in Sudbury, Ontario. CBS Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford says Saint John was chosen because of the presence of a bilingual workforce, although the city of 128,000 (metropolitan) is one of the more anglophone parts of the province. It has a large cross at the tip of the downtown peninsula celebrating the arrival of the Irish. The most recent census shows a little over 5,000 residents who have French as their mother tongue. Did Mumford confuse Saint John with Moncton? Mumford also says a second national call centre is necessary “for business continuity,” suggesting that “in the event of a crisis, people who need to contact Canadian Blood Services will always be able to do so.” Crisis? This is a phone centre that handles both inbound and outbound calls with donors and arranges appointments for the donation clinics. Ontario politicians may want to pay attention to the jobs, as Mumford is stating the current contact centre work will be redistributed and that additional information will be provided after a “more detailed staffing analysis is complete.” CBS closed its Thunder Bay operation in April of this year, shedding about 25 northern jobs.
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Tagged Andrew Boozary, Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, English only PC paper, Ian Mumford, Jason Kenney, Leona Aglukkaq, London Health Sciences, Oshawa Health Centre, Soldier's Memorial Hospital, Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services