The Council of Canadians and CUPE are working with a broad coalition of unions and community groups on a new 2014 Health Accord Campaign that we hope will engage Council members and the wider public in the fight to protect, strengthen and expand public health care.
Starting last month, September 2013, the Council and CUPE ran a campaign on PEI in the riding of Egmont. The local MP, Gail Shea, is refusing to stand up for her community and protect public health care. In recent years the community has lost several rural hospitals and many patients must travel hours to Charlottetown for access to medically necessary services.
We ran workshops throughout the riding of Egmont with Chapter, union, and community activists. We took to the streets and had door-to-door conversations with Islanders about the loss of the 2014 Health Accord and what it’ll mean for them and their community.
Many of the people who joined us had never canvassed before. With over 90 per cent of Canadians strongly in support of a public health-care system, it’s a pretty easy topic to converse with people about. Telling someone about the federal government’s abdication from health care elicits strong reaction. People are upset that the Harper government has refused to enforce national standards for health care and that they’re forcing the provinces to pay 82 per cent of the health-care costs in Canada despite the original agreement to pay 50 per cent.
People on the doorstep shared many stories with us. In the riding of Egmont we heard of limited access to services, especially dialysis and bone setting. We heard about the need for more home and community care and the increasing concern people have about living outside of Charlottetown. Even those in Summerside were unable to access a broad spectrum of services.
Within a few days of being in Egmont MP Shea wrote her first letter to the editor on health care. She wasn’t able to defend the actions of the federal government, instead she suggested the CUPE and the Council were making up the challenges. We quickly discovered a sympathetic audience from the public that filled our community townhall.
We’re pleased with the outcome of our first campaign stop and deeply indebted to the local community and organizers from the Council, CUPE, local health coalitions, and the many, many others that helped us organize an effective campaign on the ground. We hope that the work to educate people in the riding of Egmont won’t end now that we’re gone, but instead people will continue to talk to each other (friends, colleagues, neighbours, family and other community members) about the need for a 2014 Health Accord and how it will protect, strengthen and expand public health care.
For more information on the campaign, please see our website at: 2014healthaccord.ca or watch for blogs coming soon.