From our Treasurer Elisabeth Ballermann

Moving Forward with Friends of Medicare

With Sandra Azocar after being given the 2016 Public Service Award by Public Interest AlbertaTo the members and supporters of Friends of Medicare,

I'm writing to you today to let you know of changes in the works for Friends of Medicare's board of directors. Since approximately 1997, I've been representing the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) on Friends of Medicare's board in various capacities, including as FOM Treasurer for a number of years. That's all about to change. On June 26, I was elected the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). That means that after August 19, I will no longer be the president of HSAA, but will represent public sector workers across Canada as the NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer. Therefore my primary focus will no longer be on issues just in Alberta.

This move has given me the chance to reflect on years of good work on important causes with incredible people. Together we were an effective opponent to Ralph Klein's privatization plans, stopping Bill 11, exposing private MRI clinics, and saying No Way to the Third Way. We managed to Save Alberta Hospital Edmonton and put an end to talk of billions of dollars in health care cuts under Ed Stelmach. In the Redford years we put a stop to proposals to increase drug costs for seniors, and sounded the alarm over the privatization of lab services for the Edmonton region, which we are happy that the Notley government has stopped. 

With changes of government in Alberta and Ottawa, we may have fewer immediate challenges than we are used to with Friends of Medicare, and some good reasons to celebrate, but that's not a reason to stop what we've been doing.

Speaking with members of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union

We still need to see the Alberta government make good on their promise for 2,000 public long term care beds and push the conversation on phasing out private seniors' care. We need to oppose the Wildrose advocacy for private paid plasma clinics, and keep pushing until we have legislation like Ontario and Quebec that bans the practice in Alberta. We need to fulfill the unrealized promise of the future of Medicare and always advocate for expanded coverage that we can realize through a national universal drug plan, and much more. The work is never done, regardless of who forms government.

As the outgoing FOM Treasurer there's one thing I should do before leaving to help keep us on solid financial footing. I hope you agree that we need to continue to support this important organization through your continued involvement, and also by contributing financially to our ongoing work.

We set an ambitious but achievable fund raising target for 2016 of $15,000 raised from individuals like you. Thanks to many of you we've already raised a portion of that, but still have a way to go. If you haven't done so for 2016 I'm asking you today, if you can, to renew your membership with Friends of Medicare. At a mere $10 for your membership, please consider an additional donation while you do it.

For those of you who have already renewed for 2016 I'm asking if you can contribute once more. The work of our staff is made easier knowing our fundraising targets have been reached, so they can focus 100% on the advocacy work to improve the health care system we need and value.

Yours in solidarity,

Elisabeth Ballermann

p.s. Visit www.friendsofmedicare.org/donate for details on how you can donate online. Email fomcampaign@gmail.com to discuss other payment options in case of a Canada Post lockout.