Canadian Health Coalition celebrating 30th anniversary defending Medicare and campaigning for a national pharmacare program.
Ottawa (17 Nov. 2009) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being urged to mark National Medicare Week - Nov. 17-24 - by enforcing the Canada Health Act and initiating a national public drug plan for all Canadians.
The request comes from the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary of fighting for Medicare and campaigning for its expansion.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) contributes financially to the CHC and has a representative on the organization's board of directors.
In a letter to Harper, signed by Kathleen Connors, Shirley Douglas, Monique Bégin, Robert McMurtry and Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, the CHC asks the prime minister to:
- Celebrate the legacy of Medicare by publicly reaffirming the government’s commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act and to adequate and secure federal funding.
- Protect Medicare today by immediately enforcing the Canada Health Act in the many cases of extra-billing, user fees, privatization and queue-jumping now spreading across the country.
- Strengthen Medicare for the future by taking immediate steps to initiate a national public drug plan (pharmacare) that will provide better access, more value for money, and better prescribing practices.
“Since Medicare began, it has been threatened by user fees, extra-billing and privatization,” says Dr. Irfan Dhalla from Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM).
“While governments have acted in the past, Mr. Harper’s government has indicated it's clearly not interested in enforcing the Canada Health Act. It has instead turned a blind eye as private, for-profit clinics regularly break the law, and now - as a result - an emboldened group of for-profit clinics in B.C. have launched a court action to have Medicare laws struck down.”
Robert G. Evans, director of the Population Health Program at the University of British Columbia, says the challenge for the future is to expand Medicare to respond to the changing health needs of Canadians.
“Today prescription drugs save lives but too many Canadians can’t afford them. We must initiate a national public drug plan that addresses access, affordability and appropriateness of prescribing behavior," he says.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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