On September 24, the Council of Canadians and Nova Scotia Citizens' Health Care Network hosted an event outside the Department of Health and Wellness in Halifax. Using a town crier to announce the will of the people for a 2014 health accord, the Council and NSCHCN brought attention to the meeting of Canada's health ministers in Halifax later this week (September 27-28) -- you can watch the event here.
The meeting of health ministers this week is especially important given the federal government's fierce attempts to abdicate its responsibilities for health care. So far in the Accord, the Harper government has announced plans to cut $36 billion in federal health transfers to the provinces and territories. On Canada Day this year, cuts to federal health care for refugees went into effect (read more about those cuts and our actions here). In the case of Manitoba, this has further downloaded health-care responsibilities onto the province as the Manitoba government is now trying to deliver these services. We even have Harper on the record as saying: "The federal government doesn't run the health-care system, it didn't create it and it's not going to fix it" (April 12, 2001).
So it's going to take some feats of strength to drag Harper to the 2014 health accord table. The premiers announced at the Council of the Federation meeting in July that they would take on this Herculean task. However, requests to Harper have so far been denied.
We're not going to let Harper's determination to abandon health care stop us. Instead we're preparing for our next public action. On Thursday, September 27 at noon in Victoria Park, Halifax, Stephen Harper and the premiers will be playing a game of tug of war over health care. While the health ministers are in the Lord Nelson Hotel -- across the street from Victoria Park -- hopefully discussing the most pressing issues in health care (we don't know exactly what they'll be discussing as the agenda has not been made public), the Council and NSCHCN will stage a little tug of war. Harper will be standing in medicare's graveyard and with a one-on-one game of tug of war he will manage to pull the premiers over to his side. But don't give up hope. *SPOILER ALERT* The premiers will learn that if they stand together on the side of Medicare's Phase Two -- see Tommy Douglas's phase two which includes home and community care -- and they pull as one, they will drag Harper to the 2014 health accord negotiation table. It's a simple action for a complicated real-life challenge, but it illustrates what must be done if we want to protect and expand universal medicare.
Visit my blog on Friday for updates on our Thursday tug of war action and a report back from the health ministers meeting in Halifax. I'll also be live tweeting from location: @asilnicki
What's Harper up to? Award-winning journalist Karl Nerenberg keeps you in the know. Donate to support his efforts today.