Friday, April 20, 2012

Event: Remembering the Future – Can Medicare and Pensions Survive?

Remembering the Future – Can Medicare and Pensions Survive?

Saskatchewan Seniors’ Mechanism Annual Conference

Guest speaker: Louise Simard – The History of Medicare (May 16 – 10:30 a.m.)

When: Wednesday & Thursday, May 16 -17
Where: Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina

Full conference registration is $50 (age 55+) or $60. Register early as interest is high. For further information contact Sask Seniors’ Mechanism – 306-359-9956,, website:

Conference brochure PDF HERE.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Council of Canadians to push provincial governments on public health care

By Brent Patterson
April 19th, 2012

The Council of the Federation is made up of the premiers of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories. Its main function is to provide a united front among the provincial and territorial governments when interacting with the federal government. It meets twice a year. The Council of Canadians was present at their January meeting in Victoria, and we will be visibly present again at their summer meeting - this July 25-27 in Halifax.

Where is the Harper government on federal funding of health care?

The Harper government has promised to maintain health care increases of 6 per cent for the next five years to the provinces. Their intention to drop those increases and then tie them to GDP - which is currently at 4 per cent (after the October 2015 federal election) will cost the provinces approximately $31 billion over the period of the new 10-year ‘accord’, says parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page. He also says that if the funding formula stays in place beyond 2024, the federal share of health care spending would fall from its current 20.4 per cent, to 13.8 per cent by 2052, and 11.9 per cent by 2072.

A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy

By Ryan Meili
$22.00, 144 pages, index, paper, 6 x 9, spring 2012
ISBN 978-1895830-637
Purchase book HERE.

Join the conversation!


Foreword by Roy Romanow
Preface: Determining Health
1: A Healthy Society
2: Medicine On a Larger Scale
3: Growth and Development
4: The World Around Us
5: The Equality of Mercy
6: Learning to Live
7: Heading Downstream
8: Less Politics, More Democracy
9: Our Future Together

The impact of the social determinants of health is well known to governments and to health care organizations. The major challenge before us lies in turning this understanding into concrete actions that have an impact on individual Canadians and communities.

- Hon. Roy J. Romanow, former Saskatchewan Premier, from the foreword

Drawing on his experiences as a family physician in the inner city of Saskatoon, Mozambique, and rural Saskatchewan, Dr. Meili argues that health delivery too often focuses on treatment of immediate causes and ignores more fundamental conditions that lead to poor health. Income, education, employment, housing, the wider environment, and social supports: far more than the actions of physicians, nurses, and other health care providers, it is these conditions that make the greatest difference in our health. Brought to life by patient stories, A Healthy Society explores a number of specific health determinants, and ends in a discussion of democratic reforms that could help reshape the way we organize ourselves to create a truly healthy society.

Through a mix of scholarship and story, the author proposes a new approach to politics. The use of human health as a measure of our success as a society, and the application of the ideas of the social determinants of health to public policy, appeals beyond political lines to common values. By synthesizing diverse ideas into a plan for action based in the lived experiences of practitioners and patients, A Healthy Society breaks important ground in the renewal of politics toward the goal of better lives for all Canadians.

Ryan Meili is a family doctor at the West Side Community Clinic in Saskatoon and head of the Division of Social Accountability at the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

We know it in our hearts: poor health is intimately linked to poverty, abuse, and lack of social services. Yet in all these areas, Canada is marching steadily backward. In A Healthy Society, Ryan Meili, a practicing doctor who knows this first hand, sounds a clarion call to all Canadians. We will not have a healthy society until we put social justice and universal social security for all back at the top of our political agenda.

- Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

UK: After the health bill, the end of the NHS as we know it

With the health bill passed, the government is now setting about forcing the market into the NHS. Colin Leys looks at what is likely to happen next

Red Pepper
April 2012
Photo: DulcieLee/Flickr

Andrew Lansley and the Tories continue to claim that under their plans to privatise the NHS ‘services will still be free at the point of use’. But this is seriously misleading. They fail to add a key proviso – provided the service is still available on the NHS. In reality, a growing list of services will not be available, and so won’t be free.

This is already happening. People who suffer from a range of conditions that are not life-threatening, but are often painful and even disabling, are being told to pay for treatment or go without. The health bill will make this more common, and taking out private insurance for such problems will become widespread.

At the same time the government plans to expand the use of personal health budgets, administered for us by ‘intermediaries’. Coupled with the normalisation of private health insurance, personal health budgets could easily become a tax-funded subsidy for private healthcare for the better-off, triggering a further contraction of free NHS care for the poor. New charges or ‘co‑payments’ also look likely for some aspects of NHS care.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

France: When Health Care Is Downsized by Austerity

Translated Sunday 15 April 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble
L' Humanite
April 15, 2012

In mid-March, the unions at the teaching hospital in Toulouse learned of an “anti-crisis performance plan.” On the menu: grouping, outsourcing of services and reconsideration of the pertinence of health care acts. It is an austerity plan that conceals its name and endangers the provision of health care.

“Don’t let the crisis enter the teaching hospital without forewarning.” Management’s “anti-crisis performance plan”, which was presented in mid-March to the Committee on Hygiene, Safety and Working Conditions (CHSCT) of the Toulouse teaching hospital, has put all the staff on alert. It talks, pell-mell, about “restructuring”, “grouping”, “the proper distribution of staff”, “the organization of work”, “the outsourcing of services”, “optimization”… It is an austerity plan which conceals its name, but which is all the more alarming as, for the past few years, the staff at “the best teaching hospital in France” have been subjected to many restructuring projects and “the setting up of mechanisms to ease the breaking up of the public hospital,” according to the CGT union.

Is the Charter changing Canada for the worse?

By Haroon Siddiqui
April 17, 2012

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the 30th anniversary of which falls today, is changing Canada for the worse — its emphasis on individual rights may trump the broader public good and even open the door to Americanization of medicare, says one of its architects, Roy Romanow, the former NDP premier of Saskatchewan.

A new generation of “Charter kids” and “Charter judges” is advancing individual rights and diluting the “communitarian impulses” of Canadians, he said in a telephone interview from Saskatoon, where he teaches at the University of Saskatchewan.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Healthcare or More Health? Rethinking our Priorities


The University of Regina Faculty of Arts is pleased to present Open Minds, a public discussion series wherein university professors and members of the community debate current HOT topics.

Monday 23 April at 7:00pm
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Agra Torchinsky Salon (2nd floor)
3475 Albert Street, Regina, SK

More Healthcare or More Health? Rethinking our Priorities
A discussion featuring:

Dr. Tom McIntosh
Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit, and Department of Political Science, University of Regina

Dr. Carrie Bourassa
Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre, and Indigenous Health Studies Program, First Nations University of Canada

Dr. Bonnie Jeffery
Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit and Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina

Each guest speaker will have a chance to talk briefly before the floor is opened to debate and to questions from the audience. We want to hear YOUR views - all are welcome to come and share their thoughts!

For more information call: 306-585-4226.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Medical Reform Group

Medical Reform Group

An organization of physicians, medical students and others committed to ensuring access to high quality health care to all Canadians.

Visit their website HERE.

Report from Students for Medicare Conference

Older Women's Network
April 12, 2012
OWN members Pam Churchill, Marilyn Schafer, Carolyn Bennet, Mary Hynes, Sally Ferguson and Erin Harris attended Students for Medicare’s 4th Annual Conference, “Medicare in the Age of Austerity” on March 31, 2012. Other OWN members might like to know what happened.

Schedule and program
Conference Videos  — Both keynote speeches are online, at the links below:

Gordon Guyatt, Canadian Healthcare 101, 1 of 7
Dr. Gordon Guyatt, Internist, Evidence-Based Medicine expert, Office of Order of Canada, Founder of Medical Reform Group gives an introduction to the healthcare debate in Canada and presents evidence for the equity and efficiency of a publicly funded healthcare system.

Armine Yalnizyan on Austerity, 1 of 3
Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives discusses austerity and five key ways health professionals and students can join forces to fight for progressive change in Canada.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Active federal participation in health care remains essential

Canadians take pride in their health system but are aware of its shortcomings.

By Danielle Martin
April 14, 2012

I don’t know about you, but in my house we don’t each buy our own toothpaste. It’s not a good use of money to have multiple small tubes scattered around the sink — not to mention the wasted time if each family member makes a separate trip to the drugstore. We agree on a brand, buy one big tube, and save our money and time. Ditto with planning meals: one person buys the groceries. We may each be responsible for feeding ourselves, but we all have access to whatever is in the fridge.

I share this just in case the prime minister and premiers do things differently at their houses and might find the approach instructive. Because it’s clear that when it comes to health-care policy, they’re wasting the family budget buying multiples of everything, and everyone is cooking a different dinner. To make matters worse, the person who’s supposed to be the head of the family has left an allowance on the table and gone on vacation. Indefinitely.

Medicare 50th Anniversary Coalition Meeting - April 27

CUPE Saskatchewan

The Medicare 50th Anniversary Coalition is holding a second meeting on Friday, April 27, 2012 in Davidson at the Town Hall beginning at 10:30 am.

Lunch will be provided.

Progressive community groups and organizations, employee associations, unions and interested individuals are invited to join in a coalition to celebrate the 50th birthday of Medicare in Saskatchewan.

RSVPs can be made to or by calling Nathan at 757-1009.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Native Women’s Association of Canada Responds to Cuts to Health Projects

Native Women’s Association of Canada 

Ottawa, ON (April 13, 2012)--The Health Department of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is extremely distressed and concerned over Health Canada’s decision to cut all funding for projects aimed at improving the health of Aboriginal women in Canada.

 Few people in the world are in greater need of human rights protection than Indigenous peoples. Although governments have a duty and responsibility to ensure the welfare and safety of all their citizens, Indigenous peoples are often the target of policies designed to erode or suppress their rights and distinct cultural identities. Canada is no exception!

NWAC has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years to address shameful inequities that continue to plague Aboriginal women’s health in Canada. Aboriginal women are the least healthy and suffer the greatest chronic health conditions than any other segment of Canadian society. The burden of ill health affects them as individuals, their families, communities and the health system as a whole. However, Aboriginal women lag far behind the rest of the Canadian population in both of these areas.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Well is Public Health Care Protected from Canada-EU Free Trade?

Canadian Labour Congress
Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Canada and the European Union (EU) are close to concluding a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Recently, Canada’s first offers to the European Union on Services and Investment were leaked to the public by the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC).1 Canada’s financial services offers were released on February 9, 2012. That same day, la Fédération Interprofessionelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) released their analysis of Canada’s offers and raised worrisome implications for health and social services.2

When the government was pressed in Question Period the next day by NDP Members of Parliament Libby Davis and Anne Minh-Thu Quach, Conservative MP Gerard Keddy replied that:

... a free trade agreement with the European Union would exclude public services such as public health, public education and social services. Canada’s trade obligations do not require us to privatize any part of our health care system. End of story.

The government argues that health care services are protected in Canada’s trade agreements primarily because of its Annex II Social Services Reservation. When the federal government says that Canada’s public health care system is not on the table, this is what it is referring to. This Annex II Social Services Reservation appears in Canada’s CETA initial offer, and it states the following:

Canada reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with respect to the provision of public law enforcement and correctional services, and the following services to the extent that they are social services established or maintained for a public purpose: income security or insurance, social security or insurance, social welfare, public education, public training, health, and child care.3

This reservation allows governments to adopt future measures that would otherwise contravene Canada’s trade and investment agreements.

Download the full backgrounder

Delivery Matters: The high costs of for-profit health services in Alberta

By Diana Gibson, Jill Clements
Parkland Institute
April 11, 2012

Executive summary

Delivery Matters In Alberta and across Canada, the private for-profit healthcare sector is being positioned as a solution to wait times and the financial challenges facing the health care system. Consequently, for-profit delivery of healthcare is increasing. The provincial and federal governments are also increasingly referring to public healthcare as a publicly funded health system, under the premise that it does not matter who delivers the services. This report explores the implications of this trend with regards to costs, wait-times and other issues associated with healthcare delivery.

The Alberta government promised to provide a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate to Albertans the value of utilizing for-profit service providers in the delivery of publicly funded health care.1 To date this has not been completed or published. This report provides some of the information necessary to do that cost-benefit analysis on the basis of information and data garnered through the Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) request process.

UK: 'Healthy competition’ in the NHS is a sick joke

Real health choice under the NHS reform Bill doesn't exist, and the so-called market is a mockery.

By Max Pemberton 
The Telegraph
April 9, 2012

Richard Branson and his daughter Holly: their family business is profiting from the sick - 'Healthy competition’ in the NHS is a sick joke
Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Photo: REX
On March 27 the NHS reform Bill – or to give it its official name, the Health and Social Care Bill – received Royal Assent and became law. With the ink barely dry on Her Majesty’s signature, the carving up of the NHS has begun. Virgin Care has won a £500 million contract to provide community services across Surrey and began running these services, as well as the county’s prison healthcare, on April 1.

This was no April Fool’s joke, though I had to smile at the thought of Virgin managing sexual health clinics. In reality, the joke may be on all of us, as Richard Branson’s company becomes one of the first of many vultures to start picking over the rich, tender flesh of the NHS now that it has been splayed open by the Bill.

His daughter, Holly Branson, was a few years below me at medical school. I remember thinking how good it was that someone steeped in privilege had seemingly decided to dedicate her life to serving other people. I had a vision – somewhat idealised, I know – of her working in the East End, providing care to the deprived and poverty-stricken. But no. After a brief stint as a junior doctor at a London hospital, she quit the NHS to work for her father. It saddens me to see someone who underwent the same training I did stand by as their family business profits from the sick and undermines the very institution that provided them with their education.

Richard Branson likes to be thought of as an affable, benign maverick, on his way to becoming a national treasure. He’s the cuddly face of corporate Britain. But just because he has a beard and looks like Noel Edmonds does not mean his multinational business is any less aggressive and expansionist than the next.

What the Virgin Care takeover in Surrey really exposes are the two fundamental lies that have been peddled by the Government over the past year in attempts to manage the PR disaster that was the NHS Reform Bill.

The first is the flat denial that the Bill represented any sort of privatisation of the NHS, despite it being obvious to anyone who read it that this is precisely what it was.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wildrose Party Disguises Health Care Myths as Facts

By Adrienne Silnicki
Council of Canadians
April 8th, 2012

Danielle Smith of the Wildrose party has been quoted extensively talking about health care in the Edmonton Journal and Globe and Mail, among others. The Wildrose is running on a platform of creating a two-tiered system of health care in Canada. They claim that offering private health care creates: more options, reduces wait times, and protects and strengthens public health care. Each one of these points is false and not backed by evidence from the science and health research community. I’m going to attempt to separate myth from fact in the paragraphs below. I hope you’ll read more.

Myth: Private Care Reduces Wait Times

Fact: Health professionals are in short supply in Canada. We need more nurses, doctors, technicians (MRI, CT, X-ray), anesthesiologists, and others. When we create a parallel public-private health care system we split these much needed health professionals into two different systems, creating more demand while the supply remains static. This creates a backlog in health care and lengthens wait times for everyone. Studies completed on parallel private systems have not shown a reduction in wait times for public health care. In the UK, a parallel private health system has only extended wait times.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Doctor played a key role in historic medicare deal

Dr. Graham Clarkson, one of the architects of Canada’s medicare program, died March 13 at 87.

APRIL 7, 2012

Dr. Graham Clarkson
When longtime Edmonton resident Dr. Graham Clarkson died March 13, he took with him one of the last living chapters in a remarkable event in Canadian history.

The story of medicare included the likes of former Saskatchewan premiers Tommy Douglas and Allan Blakeney and Lord Stephen Taylor, the British physician who had helped implement the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

But Clarkson, who died at 87, also played a key role.

“He never stopped advocating for better health care,” says Don Junk, a lifelong friend.

“Once medicare was accepted by doctors, he pushed hard for better geriatric care in Alberta and for shorter hospital stays and more outpatient services. It didn’t always make him popular with his colleagues. ... But he wouldn’t back down if he thought it would do some public good.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bold Experiment: A pioneer's vision of health care

Bold Experiment
By Matthew S. Anderson
Your Nickel's Worth Publishing

Bold Experiment, an autobiography written by Matthew S. Anderson (1882 - 1974) - a man recognized by Tommy Douglas as 'a pioneer of social medicine'.

The 80-page book, including photographs, documents and memorabilia, uncovers the little-known history behind an important piece of our Canadian culture, heritage and identity: the story behind how Medicare first came to Saskatchewan.

Since its inception as a province, Saskatchewan has been home to grassroots idealism, to people willing to work hard to make a difference and to those willing to persevere despite the odds. Matthew Anderson believed strongly that Canadians should have protection against the cost of illness. After almost 20 years of dedication and determination to transform the idea into reality, this man, a plain "dirt farmer" from Bulyea, Saskatchewan, forged and made work North America's first comprehensive, prepaid medical care plan.

"Matthew Anderson was a Canadian original - a genuine hero, who pioneered in the creation of public medicare. His concern for others, and his good Prairie common sense, produced the basic ideas for a world-class system of collective care. It's important that his story be told, and that we honour the memory of this remarkable man." - Allan Rock, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations (former Canadian federal health minister)

"What a fascinating glimpse into our province's history that helped break trail for a national health care system." - Pamela Wallin

Given the interest in the Tommy Douglas story and the history of Medicare, this book provides a timely perspective from one of the early pioneers of health care in North America.

Click HERE to buy online.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Health Care and the 2012 Federal Budget

By Adrienne Silnicki
Council of Canadians
March 28th, 2012

It’s federal budget time again and everyone from the Council of Canadians to allies, politicians, news outlets and the Twitterverse seems to be abuzz with concerns over what this Harper budget will contain. The world of health care is equally concerned, although much of its fate was laid out by Flaherty at the Finance Minister’s meeting in mid-December.

Much like with the health care accord, the federal government is able to tie federal dollars to new programmes, services, national standards and benchmarks at any time. The budget gives the Harper government an opportunity to strengthen and expand health care in Canada- but I’m feeling rather pessimistic that they’ll take this opportunity.

Medicare's 50th Anniversary Calendar

This post is connected to Medicare's 50th Anniversary Google Calendar and will display events as they are entered. You can bookmark this page or simply click on the left sidebar calendar to visit this events post.

If you have a relevant event you would like too see added, email me at