Health Coalition plans strategy to defend and expand Medicare
Today, the Canadian Health Coalition finds itself at the juncture of dramatic changes and challenges. That was the context for a strategic planning meeting held by coalition members in Ottawa last month, the first such meeting in-person since the pandemic struck in 2020.
The Canadian Health Coalition turns 45-years-old next year. Tommy Douglas, the “father of Medicare,” wrote at the time of the coalition’s founding at the 1979 S.O.S. Medicare conference,
“Unless there is a concerted effort to apply pressure on the Federal and Provincial governments, the erosion of Medicare will continue unabated and might even be accelerated. Our best hope lies in the Canadian Health Coalition…for the preservation and extension of Medicare.”
Our mission has been to simultaneously preserve – and expand – our cherished public universal health care system ever since.
Medicare under threat
“The health care system is in a crisis, both in terms of our burnt-out workers, insufficient funding, and a public that is increasingly less confident in their ability to access care when needed,” said chairperson Pauline Worsfold, RN, a nurse at an Edmonton hospital.
Participants identified the threats to Medicare. The forces of privatization are circling our stricken hospitals like sharks; the insurance firms, grocery and drug store chains, telecom companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, long-term care investors, the corporate physicians with their private, for-profit clinics and staffing agencies.
“How can public health defenders preserve and expand Medicare, given such wealthy and powerful forces arrayed against us?” Worsfold asked the more than 20 participants.
Health and Hope 2025 Campaign
The coalition’s successful Health and Hope 2025 campaign was launched in 2022 to champion the health care commitments in the Liberal-NDP agreement, including public dental care, universal pharmacare, health care investments and safe long-term care.
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The good news is the Canadian Health Coalition is rising to the challenge, said Worsfold. She shared some of the coalition’s recent accomplishments:
- The return of our successful in-person Hill Lobby with over 100 volunteers and 63 meetings
- On-the-ground actions with members and provincial coalitions in Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Charlottetown, Fredericton and Montreal
- A weekly newsletter in both official languages delivered to 15,000 subscribers
- 2 million Facebook impressions of our anti-privatization digital campaign and 11,000 letters sent to the Prime Minister
- A plethora of articles, letters, quotes in mainstream media
- Regular invitations to government committees and stakeholder consultations
- An unprecedented press conference for pharmacare with former Health Minister, Dr. Jane Philpott
“Ultimately, as we all know, the challenge to preserve and expand Medicare will grow more difficult in the future with a federal election expected in 2025, or sooner,” she said. “The Canadian Health Coalition has 19 members, but we can become much greater than the sum of our parts. Indeed we must, if we are to live up to Tommy Douglas’ vision set out for us nearly 45 years ago.”