Canadians are proud of our universal public health care system. It provides high quality care to everyone, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. Just like an umbrella on a rainy day, it’s got us covered.
But in recent years there has been an increased privatization of our public system focusing on profits rather than patient care. Fewer services are covered and many health services that Canadians rely on fall outside of the umbrella, for example prescription drugs and long-term care.
What happens outside of the umbrella does not work. Canadians’ health care needs should not be driven by profits, or an American-style system that relies on private health insurance.
The Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) is a public advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of public health care in Canada. Our membership is comprised of national organizations representing health care workers, nurses, seniors, churches, anti-poverty groups, women and trade unions, as well as affiliated coalitions in 10 provinces and 1 territory.
Health care in Canada is a fundamental right without distinction of race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, political belief, immigration status, and economic or social condition. We defend this right and ensure that the following principles shape the direction of health care in Canada.
- The recognition of the highest attainment of health as a fundamental right throughout life and the necessity of preserving public health through active measures of promotion, prevention, and protection including such determinants as housing, food safety, income, education, environment, employment and peace.
- The recognition that many Aboriginal people have a poor health status and a high burden of disease. The current system is failing and requires a transformation of the relationship between Canada and its Aboriginal people to find solutions together.
- The recognition of health care as a public good for which no financial barriers must be erected. We affirm the need for a system of public health care which is organized on the basis of public administration, public insurance and the delivery of services on a public, not-for-profit basis.
- Opposition to any commercialization and privatization of health care. Therefore the federal government must negotiate a general exclusion of health services and health insurance from all trade agreements.
- The need for the federal government to fully assume its responsibilities in respect to health, particularly by securing the adequate and predictable federal health transfers and enforcement of the Canada Health Act.
- The reaffirmation of the original vision of a truly comprehensive public health care system for Canadians providing a continuum of services. The next steps are the expansion of the public system to include a universal drug plan, a system of home and community care, long-term care, and a strategy for mental health.
- The need to move towards a community-based, multi-disciplinary team approach to the management, organization and delivery of services, especially in primary care. Levels of services must be sufficient so that the burden of care does not fall on families, mainly women.
- An accountable health care system through democratic participation and transparent governance at all levels.
- The recognition that health care workers are critical to the effective operation of the health care system and that decent wages and working conditions are essential to high quality care.
We come together to commit to ensuring that governments throughout Canada renew their commitment to protect and expand Canada’s public health care system to meet the present and future needs of all people living in Canada, based on the principles (public administration, universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility and portability) and conditions (no extra billing or user fees, or queue-jumping) of the Canada Health Act.
Regardless of where we live, it is now imperative to reaffirm the social values we all share. These values must guide our collective choices for the future of health care. What stands between public health care and its destruction are the people of Canada. Future generations are depending on our vigilance.