Honking for Health Care on University Avenue in Toronto.
On Monday I saw Ontario Health Coalition Director Natalie Mehra at a noon-hour rally on University Avenue. As far as rallies go it wasn’t a big one. About 50 people showed up to hold up signs urging motorists to honk for a new health accord. So many motorists did just that it became, at times, hard to hear each other speak.
Mobilizing people around the health accord is not the easiest sell. The health accord is a complex issue about planning, standards and funding. When you really strip it down, however, it’s really about the future of Medicare in this country.
I was recently asked by a gas station attendant about a button I was wearing with a red umbrella and the text “Canada Needs A New Health Accord.” With customers waiting behind me I had to explain in 30 seconds what it was about. That’s not so easy and made me think if I found this difficult, what about a 10-second sound bite?
March 31st we all were wondering if we just bit off more than we can chew.
Mehra has been circling the province in recent weeks working on five regional campaigns intended to pressure the government to back off on a plan to contract selected hospital services to private clinics. The campaigns are due to culminate this weekend in Windsor, London, Kitchener, Sudbury and Peterborough. Her enthusiasm has been infectious as she tells us of all the cards that have been collected to date.
Actress Shirley Douglas shares the stage with Tabby Johnson, Jackie Richardson and other performers from Holler 4 Health Care last night at the Trinity-St. Paul Centre in Toronto.
There’s got to be a morning after.
Yesterday more than 40 communities across Canada marked the end of the 10-year health accord between the provinces and the federal government.
Listening to actress Shirley Douglas speak last night at one of those events in Toronto, its clear many Canadians believe there is much more at stake than a framework agreement that trades health care objectives for cash.
Before the rally began last night, the daughter of Medicare founder Tommy Douglas told the Toronto Star that her father had warned of the slow strangulation of health care, telling her “if you don’t get up and fight for it, you are going to lose it.”
With her 80th birthday just a couple of days away, Douglas vowed to fight on for the next decade if necessary, pausing to add the caveat provided she’s still around.
Former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow calls them tepid.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is saying no means no.
There is likely more frustration at Victoria’s Premiers’ meeting this week than among the coaching staff of the wilting Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Premiers first arrived after discovering the Federal government had unilaterally decided on what the funding side of the next health care accord would look like.
With a majority government in Ottawa, will Prime Minister Stephen Harper thumb his nose at provinces seeking a fresh deal that would transfer billions to sustain their cash-strapped health systems?
Provincial Health Ministers may be discussing strategies to avoid such a catastrophe when they meet in Halifax next month.