Saturday, April 12, 2014
Health Care Set for Future Failure
leadership on Medicare, Pharmacare says Seniors group
Released by COSCO
largest federation of seniors has called on the federal, provincial
and territorial governments to negotiate “a new comprehensive health
accord that protects, transforms and strengthens our national health
At a special meeting held
in Vancouver today – 11 days after the expiry of the national health
accord – about 100 seniors unanimously adopted a declaration that
quality health care must be available to every resident of Canada
without discrimination, and regardless of ability to pay.
“All levels of government have a role to play in the delivery of
quality and accessible health care,” said Lorraine Logan, President
of the 107,000 member Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of
“The federal government should give strong leadership in enforcing
national standards, not walking away from the table and refusing to
negotiate a new accord,” said Logan.
“To ensure Medicare is not fragmented, Ottawa must provide
coordination, foster innovation, and provide financial support at a
level that secures the integrity of the 1984 Canada Health Act,” she
The meeting of COSCO delegates heard from three health policy
experts on the issue.
Michael McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition said the Harper
government has launched a “stealth attack” on Medicare, with
reductions in funding scheduled for future years.
“We need a national debate, a national conversation on the future of
Medicare,” said McBane, adding that the withdrawal of federal
leadership will lead to a fragmentation of service.
“This is a fight to maintain access so people can get care based on
need,” he said.
Wendell Potter, former head of communications at a large health
insurance company in the USA, said he walked away from his job when
he realized private corporations were not improving access, were not
improving quality of care, and looked on health care as a major
“With help from the Fraser Institute, the company misinformed
Americans about Canada’s health care system, calling it ‘the
slippery slope to socialism,’” said Potter.
He called on Canadians to carefully examine the misleading language
used by those who promote privatization.
“Sound the alarm” said Potter. “You can lose Medicare for
yourselves, your children, your grandchildren and future
Alex Himelfarb – director of the Glendon School of Public and
International Affairs at York University, former Clerk of the Privy
Council and Secretary to the Cabinet for three prime ministers –
said that private health care is far more expensive and has longer
Himelfarb called for a national Pharmacare program, a better
approach to care for chronic illness, and the integration of home
care and home support into Medicare.
“Countries that have done that have a more sustainable health care
system than we have,” he said. “We have lots of work to do to make
Medicare strong, better and more affordable. We need a clear vision
for the future. We need federal leadership – and we don’t have it,”
Seniors at the meeting expressed outrage that the federal government
has refused to negotiate a new health accord, effectively ending
Medicare as a national program.
They were also frustrated that four B.C. Conservative Members of
Parliament – including Richmond MP Alice Wong, the minister of state
for seniors – have refused to meet with them to discuss these
COSCO is an umbrella organization that brings together 85
different seniors groups, representing 107,000 women and men, to
work on common issues. COSCO is affiliated with the one million
member National Pensions Federation which promotes these issues at
the national level.
A major focus of COSCO’s work is promoting good health. To this
end, COSCO volunteers provide a series of free workshops on 38
topics ranging from falls prevention to health literacy. More than
6,000 seniors have attended these workshops.
For more information,
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