Following today’s Speech from the Throne, Friends of Medicare were disappointed to see an utter lack of movement towards the long-awaited expansion and much-needed improvement of our health care system. Particularly, we saw little direction as it pertains to the implementation of universal Pharmacare, taking profits out of Long-Term Care, and investing in better and public mental health care. We had also hoped to see an indication of a permanent fix to Employment Insurance by ensuring that paid sick days for all workers is the rule and not the exemption.
Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has repeatedly exposed the gaps and weaknesses in our public health care, and underscored the urgency of long-overdue expansions to our Medicare system. Now more than ever, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that our vital public health care is protected and expanded.
“It makes sense that we should take this opportunity to put into action much-needed solutions to the issues that have been laid bare during one of the worst health crises that we have lived through,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “There is an urgent need to repair gaps in Canada’s social safety net so that we can be ready when the next crisis hits, and that means taking the necessary steps to expand and improve our health care system. Unfortunately, today’s speech provided no direction to address these worsening problems or the impacts they continue to have on Canadians and their families.”
Despite the speech’s title, “Building a resilient economy: a cleaner & healthier future for our kids,” there was a glaring lack of action outlined when it comes to health care. Without taking the necessary steps to protect the health of Canadians, and to strengthen the universality of our public health care system, our pandemic recovery will continue to be prolonged, and our health care system will remain vulnerable to this, and future crises. There cannot be a healthy and just recovery that does not include the urgent work that needs to be done to repair the damage that COVID-19 has been allowed to wreak on our public health care system.
We are also troubled that rather than providing federal leadership on health care, this government is retreating to the same old promise that they will “work collaboratively with provinces, territories, and other partners to deliver real results on what Canadians need."
“Premiers, including the Premier of Alberta, have repeatedly made clear their intentions to aggressively pursue privatization within provincial health care systems, under political cover of this pandemic,” says Azocar. “We can’t afford for the federal government to take a back seat with something as all-important as our public health care system. Now is a time when we need real action on the national level to finally ensure that everyone in this country has access to the care they need and deserve.”
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