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BC Federation of Retired Union

BC FORUM News - from the April 2014 issue of The Advocate

Like never before, retired workers
must stand up for Medicare

“The federal government is no longer walking away from health care. It is sprinting at full speed.”

Dr. Ryan Meili, Canadian Doctors for Medicare

“The recent decision by the federal government to cut funding to the Health Council of Canada is a failure of its responsibility to protect and strengthen Canada’s health care system.”

Dr. Anna Reid, Canadian Medical Association

“There is no province in Canada that can or can ever be expected to play the role of the federal government. So it leads to the serious fragmentation of the system. It will basically be the end of national health care.”

Michael McBane, Canadian Health Coalition

“(Discussion and collaboration among governments) is absolutely necessary if we are to move forward as a nation with roughly the same kinds of expectations and reformed outcomes of health care that we so desperately need. This is a really big blow.”

Roy Romanow, head of the Royal Commission on the future of health care in Canada

This could be the year when Medicare – under attack from right-wing governments and privateers – really starts to unravel as a national program.

The Harper Conservatives refuse to provide leadership. They will not negotiate a new health accord with provinces and territories. The current accord expires March 31, effectively ending federal involvement in setting common standards of care for all Canadians.

The Harper Conservatives have also eliminated the $6 million a year funding to the Health Council of Canada. The Council was set up to monitor progress in improving care to Canadians, as recommended by the Romanow Royal Commission. It will close its doors March 31.

In addition, proponents of privatized health care for the rich are seeking to break Medicare in the courts. Dr. Brian Day, owner of the for-profit Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, has launched a direct attack on the critical principle that health care should be provided according to a patient’s need, not his or her ability to pay. The case will be heard in BC Supreme Court in September.

“These are dangerous times for people who want to see public health care improved, not torn apart,” says Diane Wood, President of BC FORUM.

“The Harper government is failing to defend the interests of ordinary families. We are going to give them a wake-up call,” she said.

Wood said BC FORUM will be working in close cooperation with its national and provincial allies to pressure the federal government to reassume its leadership role and to focus public attention on the dangerous court case launched by Day.

“Through the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC, seniors and retired workers will be visiting Members of Parliament in every constituency in the province, calling on them to support immediate negotiations on a new health accord.

All governments must work together to ensure that Canadians get the care they need,” she said.

“We will be working with the BC Health Coalition to ensure that British Columbians are fully informed about the legal attack on public health care. The Coalition is already planning a number of events and town hall meetings for this summer to achieve this goal.

“I am personally very grateful that both the Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare have gained intervenor status in this case. Without their participation, only the BC Liberal government would be defending Medicare, and that’s a very frightening thought,” she said.

“At the national level, our representatives in the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada and the Canadian Health Coalition are planning a national day of action for a new health accord. I encourage all BC FORUM members to visit the website – www. – for details of how they can participate,” said Wood.

“As retired workers, many of us remember what it was like before Medicare, when a serious illness or injury could leave a family destitute. We are determined to not only preserve public health care, but to improve it. For example, there’s a real need for expanded home support and a national Pharmacare program. Both could improve care and save billions of dollars,” she said.


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