The gospel calls us to seek health and wholeness for all God’s people. In 2014 the church signed the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) statement, Secure the Future of Medicare: A Call to Care, stating that health care in Canada is a fundamental right. We continue to support for Canada’s single-tier, publicly-funded, universal health care system.
A National Drug Plan
National Medicare Week was held Jan 29 - Feb 4 and was a busy week for the Canadian Health Coalition. I attended a conference on the merits of a National Drug Plan for Canada, where speakers made a case on the basis of access, affordability, and safety. In addition, I joined with health care activists as we descended on Parliament Hill to lobby MPs.
A National Drug Plan is important as it would ensure that all Canadians are covered, instead of the situation that currently exists where provincial plans leave many without coverage and disparities exist depending on where Canadians live. It would mean that the price and affordability of drugs would come down and increase the safety of drugs approved for use.
A National Health Accord
In addition to promoting a National Drug Plan, we also expressed our concern about developments in respect of a new National Health Accord, or lack thereof.
At the moment the prospect of a national health accord appears remote as Ottawa cuts bilateral deals with desperate provinces and territories. The diminishing share of federal funding for Medicare is a question of standards. A federal government that is not seen to be contributing its fair share of the cost of Medicare will not be in the appropriate moral position to enforce the Canada Health Act, and will be culpable in helping to create the conditions for the creation of a second privately insured tier for what are now exclusively publically insured necessary medical services.
Medicare is always at risk, and those who fought against its introduction 50 years ago are still with us today. The United Church’s support of the Canadian Health Coalition is an important demonstration of the church’s continuing commitment to the vision of earlier generations who saw health care availability on the basis of need rather than ability to pay, as a cornerstone of what makes a community out of a country.
Please support the creation of a National Drug Plan and a National Health Accord by letting your MPs know about it.
Bill Blaikie is The United Church of Canada’s representative to the Canadian Health Coalition.