Talking Healthcare with Northwestern Ontario Candidates

Election 2019 - Politics 2.0 Healthcare

THUNDER BAY – Politics 2.0 – Healthcare is always an important issue in federal politics. Dr. Sandy Buchman, President of the Canadian Medical Association states, “With nearly five million Canadians who don’t have access to a health care provider, and provinces and territories struggling to fund rising health costs, voters are looking to the next federal government for a clear plan forward.

“Unfortunately, as we approach the midway point in this election campaign, the political discourse has done little to address Canadians’ questions. We have serious challenges to deal with and we need serious commitments to address them,” adds Buchman. “Canadians have been consistent and clear:  health care is their top concern and they want to hear about real solutions to help them find a family physician, afford the drugs they need, get mental health supports for the young people in their life, and care for aging family members.”

Asking the candidates across Northwestern Ontario for their comments:

Kenora Liberal candidate Bob Nault says, “Healthcare is a top of mind concern among people of all ages, and particularly for the residents living in Northern Ontario.

“Canada’s public healthcare system today is still one of the best in the world. We need to work together at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels and work together as Canadians to the benefit of all Canadians.

“To start, we made a commitment to invest $6 billion as a down payment to improve health care for all Canadians. This specific investment will go towards ensuring that everyone has access to a family doctor, improved mental- health services and palliative care, as well as ensuring every Canadian has access to the medicine they need, through a National Pharmacare Plan.

“However, while this is a good start, here in the Kenora Riding and throughout Rural Canada, it’s clear that when you compare urban health care services to what rural Canadians have, we need to work with all levels of governments, and invest much more towards healthcare services in rural and remote parts of Canada.

“That’s why recently, I put forward a motion in the House of Commons to have the Health Committee determine factors that contribute to the significant disparities in the healthcare services of rural Canadians, compared to those in urban centres. That way we can come up with real healthcare solutions for Canadians for the long-term. We also need to look at a number of solutions, which include improved access to addictions and mental healthcare services.

“Healthcare is a top priority for Rural Canadians and it’s a top priority for Northerners. As Canadians, we are fortunate to have a public healthcare system, and we can and will make it even better.”

Amanda Moddejonge, running for the Green Party in Thunder Bay-Rainy River responds, “As a disabled military veteran I know all too well how difficult it can be to obtain meaningful care.  There are many contributing factors to the current issues we are facing in health care, not least of all are the health funding transfers from Ottawa that have not kept pace with the rapidly changing demographics and emerging crises of mental illness and addiction.  The Green Party supports reassessing these transfers, while at the same time expanding the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of a hospital, and we will create a bulk drug purchasing agency in order to secure better medication costs.

“Furthermore, as we are committed to Indigenousself-governance, we will support First Nations, Metis, and Inuit in (re)building traditional knowledge systems around healing and wellness, including the formal inclusion of traditional healing within mental wellness and home and community care programs.  This process must be led by First Nations, Metis, and Inuit organizations,” concludes Moddejonge.

Doctor Marcus Powlowski, the Liberal candidate, Thunder Bay-Rainy River says, “As an emergency department doctor, I know first-hand how important health care is to Canadians. I know that gaps exist. So does the Liberal Party. That’s why, for example, we’ve committed to doing more for those with mental health issues. In Thunder Bay-Rainy River I want to see more done to fight addictions and to get after drug gangs whose products wreak havoc in our community and on our health care system.”

Thunder Bay-Superior North Green Party candidate Bruce Hyer comments, “The Green Party 2019 Platform is 90 pages of thoughtful details, has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I urge voters who are serious about wise choices in this election to read it!  I helped to write much of it!”

Some key elements of the platform that I endorse include:
• Restore and increase funding under the Canada Health Accord from the Feds to the provinces, as recommended by Roy Romanow and others.
• Renegotiate the Health Accord to expand mental health protection, reduce wait times, family planning, home health care.
• Make pharmaceuticals affordable or free under a National Pharmacare Program where the government reduces the cost through negotiating mass purchases. and reducing drug patent protection periods.
• Uphold and reaffirm Jordan’s Principle to ensure equal access to health care for indigenous citizens and remote communities.
• Involve and empower indigenous peoples to help to direct suitable traditional means of health, both physical and mental.
• Cancer rates have exploded in recent decades, and much of the cause is untested and under-regulated chemicals including pesticides like glyphosate. The burden of proof must shift to proof of safety.
• Recognizer that the #1 risk to health in the future will be dangerous climate change. The Greens are the only party with an adequate plan to meet our climate targets.
• Recognize that the opioid crisis is a national emergency. We must decriminalize addictions, and treat addictions as a medical and social problem. We must ensure a safe supply of addicting drugs while at the same time helping addicts who seek treatment and help.
• Establish and adequately fund a national mental health and suicide prevention strategy.
• Reverse the incredibly stupid privatization of our blood supply by the Harper government, and restore non-profit blood collection services.
• Ensure that every Canadian has adequate access to a family doctor.
• Mightily resist the privatization of Canada’s health care system.
Hyer concludes, “Here in Thunder Bay-Superior North polling shows that it is clearly a two-way race between the Liberals and Greens, and the other parties are far behind. The Liberals have had many years to improve and restore health care, and have failed to keep their pre-election promises.”
In Thunder Bay-Rainy River NDP candidate Yuk-Sem Won says, “I have heard it at the doors and over the phone – families in Thunder Bay-Rainy River are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. People are making difficult choices like buying their prescription drugs or buying food. A decade of Conservative neglect has hurt our public health care system and eroded public trust. The Liberal approach – a patchwork of interventions and programs here and there – simply isn’t delivering the results that Canadians need. Too many Canadians, even those with private insurance, just aren’t able to get the help they need. It doesn’t have to be this way. The NDP will implement universal pharmacare so that everyone could afford the medication they need. A New Democrat government will also work together with provincial partners, health professionals, and dentists to develop a roadmap to including dental care in the Canada Health Act. The long-term path to providing public coverage for these services will require strong federal re-investment in our health system with the knowledge that investing in preventative health services will ultimately save money and give Canadians the care they need to live healthy, full lives.”

Stay tuned… more comments coming.