Saturday, 23 May 2015

The First of Four

The Sudbury Chapter’s Benita Hart, Glenn Murray, Ron Tough, Toni Chezzi and Andre Clement met with NDP MP, Mr. Claude Gravelle on the issue of Canada’s health program. We were well received despite Mr. Gravelle’s busy agenda covering both ridings of Nickel Belt and Sudbury. This pre-election meeting was generated by our concern for the Prime Minister’s intent to dismantle Canada’s universal coverage and our interest in confirming the NDP’s position on these health related issues. Although this last week was part of the Canadian Health Coalition’s national lobby on health, the Council stood alone to represent the interests of the Council and both the OHC and CHC during this meeting.

We reiterated our health priorities to include protecting and improving the public health care system with
·      Equal access regardless of ability to pay
·      A new health care accord
·      Reversing current funding cuts. 

·      A national drug plan that is public, affordable and safe 

·      High quality long-term care at home and in facilities for seniors that also include palliative services

Mr. Gravelle indicated the NDP and he were aligned with these priorities, but cautioned that the final drafting of the party’s platform for the forthcoming election was yet to be fixed and rested largely in the hands of the party experts. 

We asked him if he were to be re-elected, if he would work to stop the privatization of pubic health care and commit to supporting integrated care strategies that
o   Integrated services at the home and facilities?
o   Were universal
o   Included long term, respite and palliative care, and
o   Provided pharmacare?
… and would his efforts include enforcing the standards in the Canada Health Act to ban extra-billing and user fees, and enforce the provinces’ reporting requirements? Mr. Gravelle agreed with these initiatives, but refrained from indicating the priority of health issues for the forthcoming election. In response to how he personally would support these, he indicated he was in the process of contributing to the party’s platforms.

Mr. Gravelle emphasized the need to open dialogue with the provinces to re-shape Canada’s health accord – something the Prime Minister has refused to do. We agreed that funding health care could likely be provided by Canada’s reduced investments in corporate tax cuts and warfare and that amending the Canada Health Act should include compelling more accountability by the provinces for their expenditures from the federal transfer of health care funds.

Our MP indicated that he saw care for seniors as the highest health priority for the Nickel Belt and Sudbury ridings.

While reiterating his and his party’s agreement with the above priorities, he admitted it was too early to divulge details about how the Party would address the issues, given the competing priorities among the Party’s agendas and the need to be assured of the Party’s position before launching into specific details of implementation.

“Get us elected … and defeat the conservatives” were his main response to how we can work together for a strong public health care system in Canada.

The meeting was encouraging in that we felt Mr. Gravelle was taking notes to bring back to the NDP think tanks in Ottawa. Hopefully, this will raise health care in the prioritization of NDP election issues and that we will see more detail about how the Party plans to act on these promises.

The Sudbury Chapter will continue meeting with the federal candidates over the next weeks to read the intentions of the Green, Liberal and Conservative parties and to reinforce national health as an agenda to be supported and protected. Members of our local Chapter are invited to join us. More to follow …

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