Tag Archives: Medicare

Buoyant Action Assembly renews plan to tackle privatization

Photograph of Sean Meagher and Steven Shrybman at the Ontairo Health Coalition Action Assembly.

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.

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Economic downturn taking toll on health of Canadians – CMA report card

The economic downturn is taking a toll on the health of Canadians according to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual report card.

The report card represents a poll of Canadians conducted in July by Ipsos Read Public Affairs.

According to the report:

• More than one in four Ontarians (27%) say they agree the economic downturn has impacted their health – 7 per cent say they agree strongly. Nearly one in three Quebecers (32%) say their health has been impacted.

• More than one in three Canadians (34%) say that they feel stressed and/or overwhelmed as a result of financial concerns. The number rises to close to half (46%) among those who earn less than $30,000 per year.

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Giant umbrella part of Medicare protest July 18

Health care advocates are urging the Harper government to return to the table and negotiate a new 2014 health accord with the provinces. The message is part of a national day of action July 18 – a week before provincial and territorial Premiers are scheduled to meet to discuss the issue.

Earlier this year the Harper government told the provinces what their health transfers would be, showing no interest in how that money got spent. The plan includes 6 per cent increases to 2018. After that the transfers will be indexed to economic growth with a minimum floor of 3 per cent.

In Toronto health care advocates are being urged to meet July 18 at 12 noon in Riverdale Park East, across from the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Church (Bain and Broadview).

The protestors will be forming a giant umbrella symbolizing the protection Canadians receive from public Medicare.

The Ontario Health Coalition, the Council of Canadians and Canadian Doctors for Medicare are joining with other advocacy organizations to send a message to the Harper government to get back to the table.

In April a Vector Poll indicated 57 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the Harper government’s refusal to negotiate a new National Health Accord with the provinces.  In the same poll, 58 per cent of Canadians said they feel the federal government should “set standards that the provinces have to follow” to make sure Canadians in different provinces have access to the same quality of health care.

Watch this short cartoon on the Medicare “umbrella.”

A reminder of what we’re fighting for

OPSEU represents about 36,000 health care professionals and support staff who work in settings ranging from community mental health to large urban hospitals.

When it comes to this BLOG, we don’t hide our perspective as workers.

We hope that those who read our BLOG do so with the understanding that the stories we write about and the positions we advocate are with the intent of building a better public health system.

We are aware that not everyone shares that goal. Since Medicare was founded, there have always been those who would undermine it, and sometimes it makes for odd bedfellows in the opinion pages.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, are we building on Tommy Douglas’ legacy, or are we tearing it down by only pointing out the system’s weaknesses?

It was therefore refreshing to see a letter this week in the Windsor Star by health reporter Veronique Mandal that points out what we hear too seldom – for most of us, the health system still works.

“As a health reporter, I have written hundreds of stories about Canada’s health system – some were laudatory, many showed its shortcomings and failures,” she writes.

The public letter goes on to thank the “doctors, nurses, admitting and technical staff” at Windsor’s Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital who saved her life April 20. Mandal doesn’t specify what her medical emergency was.

Mandal says that “being rescued from the brink of death is a profoundly life-changing experience.”

At Diablogue we often write about hospitals being overcrowded, cuts to cleaning and its impact on infection control, unhealthy and inedible rethermalized food, poor performance scorecards and the perils of privatization. At the end of the day, however, most hospitals still score above 90 per cent in patient satisfaction surveys and Canadians are still embracing our public Medicare system.

For all the problems, we’re obviously still doing some things right.

This does not mean that everyone is getting the care they need, or as the province likes to rhyme off, we’re not finding the right care in the right place at the right time. Not yet.

Letters like Mandal’s do remind us what we are fighting for.

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