Friday, May 11

Third Canadian Medicare Conference, Regina; May 3 and 4

Summary on Canadian National Medicare Conference in Regina, May 3 and 4

Last week I had the honor of attending this wonderful third ever Canadian Conference on Medicare - Building on Tommy Douglas' vision of Medicare. Thanks especially to Friends of Medicare for affording me the opportunity. And, what an opportunity it was as well as the wonderful company of Gordon and Sylvia Campbell and James Moore.

Woh! What a Conference and impressive array of speakers; experts from across Canada, the US, Britain and NZ! It was amazing to see the precision that helped us hear 38 speakers in two days.

The conference kicked-off with an address from Shirley Douglas, actress daughter of the famous 'Father of Medicare - Tommy Douglas' and each session commenced with a keynote speaker providing focus.

We heard on the International Perspective; Financing to Achieve Greater Equity; Homecare Reforms, Pharmacare, Homecare and Primary Care; Social Determinants of Health and Getting to Where We Want to Get To headed by distinguished people like Dr. Michael Rachlis, Hon. Monique Begin, former Minister of Health in the Trudeau Government and Roy Romanow, former Premier of Saskatchewan.

To name but a few of those on the panels we heard from people like former Premier Allan Blakeney; Tom Kent, Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Pearson as well as many other distinguished scholars from Academic circles as well as leaders from Nursing and Physicians.

Highlight of the conference was Stephen Lewis, from the UN. He had, if not all of us, at least most of us in tears as he described his firsthand experiences of aids and poverty in Africa. We hope he will continue and have the strength for a long time to disseminate the message that the world needs to know.

Daily 15,000 people die as a result of aids for lack of drugs and the basics of life that are available but not provided by governments that renege on commitments. When will we wake-up?

And, yes poverty is rampantly increasing in our own country too as the gap between rich and poor; "the haves and have nots" widens. It is difficult for anyone to improve themselves when the reality is they get no time to rest but increasingly struggle for the basics in minimum wage jobs, sometimes two or three part-time jobs to get by and suffer the consequent ravages of stress; the silent killer. Of course, there is no time or opportunity for education.

In brief, the message is that we have achieved only the smallest part of Tommy Douglas's vision. We need to continue striving for the rest of the vision and emphasis is needed especially on prevention and health; in other words, Public Health, as we continue to work for universality for coverage for dental, eye and pharmacare.

And, let us not be persuaded by the naysayers that we can afford it since we have the proof and the financial wherewithal. We can not afford the alternative, neglect and escalating cost of band-aid measures to stop the diseases already started.

Time and again it's been proved that privatization costs more and evidence continues to demonstrate that the countries with socialized Medicare are far ahead with outcomes of better health. The fact is; Canada only spends 9% of our GDP on Healthcare while the US spends 16% and still has 45 million people without healthcare.

However, we need to ensure that departments within governments cooperate at all levels to ensure that policy in and at all levels of health, education and our economy are in harmony to assure the best health of all citizens starting with a proper child-development program. I just wish you could have been there to experience this historic conference. Michael Cormican