"I am very pleased to send this letter of support, and please know that we stand with you in your struggle to help the millions of U.S. citizens who do not have access to health care." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (21 Sept. 2017) — In a letter to Senator Bernie Sanders, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) thanked him for his leadership in fighting to ensure all people have the right to proper health care as a human right.
Senator Bernie Sanders pushes for single-payer health system
Sanders introduced Bill 1804, despite the President's attempt to eliminate health care for millions of Americans, with the hope that Americans would be able to get health care based on their need, not their ability to pay.
In the letter, Brown explained that "the fight to achieve universal health care in Canada was not easy. Tommy Douglas, a democratic socialist premier from Saskatchewan introduced it over 50 years ago, and was met with fierce resistance. Canadians are proud that the people of Saskatchewan stood firm and won the fight that led to the federal government introducing national legislation covering medically necessary services by doctors and hospitals. These events led to the Canada Health Act and the system Canadians benefit from today."
Prescription drug coverage must be in any health care program
But Brown provides a warning to Sanders, "As you look to introduce a single-payer system in the United States, we are looking to deal with an omission from our current system. Canadian unions, social justice advocates, and progressive political parties are fighting for a national drug plan in Canada."
"The current system covering doctors and hospital was never meant to be the end, just a start, but we have sadly not had the political will to move to include prescription drug coverage," Brown wrote. "This means that millions of Canadians are leaving prescriptions unfilled and suffering the consequences."
The letter continues, "Canada is the only country that has universal health care that does not have a form of pharmacare. As you can imagine, the stakes are high with Canada losing as much as Can$11 billion per year by not negotiating lower drug costs as they do in countries like the UK and New Zealand. Your country is the only one where drug costs are higher than in Canada. Make no mistake, citizens from both our countries are suffering and dying needlessly."
NUPGE offers support for health care bill
Brown wrote, "Senator, in Canada, what we call Medicare, is our most cherished social program, and even in the face of funding challenges based on austerity politics and the relentless push by private interests to profit from health care, Canadians still overwhelmingly support universal public health care."
He concluded, "I am very pleased to send this letter of support, and please know that we stand with you in your struggle to help the millions of U.S. citizens who do not have access to health care."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE