Health care forum packs Heritage Centre

Important to keep these issues on the forefront of people’s minds: Hospital Employees' Union

Last Monday, the Campbell River Council of Canadians, the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU), and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) hosted a forum in Campbell River to discuss the future of health care in Canada.

As part of the CUPE/Council of Canadians’ nation-wide campaign, “Save Our Health Care,” which has held town hall meetings in cities such as Winnipeg, Moncton, Charlottetown and Sault Ste. Marie, the panel spoke to a full house of “over 200 people” at the Maritime Heritage Centre, according to Council of Canadians health campaigner Michael Butler.

“With fair federal funding,” Maude Barlow, panelist at the forum and national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said in the release for the event, “we can create the health care system we need, with public health care for every British Columbian and every Canadian. But when the federal government let the 2004 Health Accord expire … it walked away from its responsibility to protect our public health care system.”

Neil Monckton of the HEU says it is important to keep these issues on the forefront of people’s minds as we head into another federal election cycle.

“We first raised the alarm last year before the cuts were introduced,” Monckton said, “and now that they’ve happened, we want to keep people talking about how people are being affected by them.

“We need to let people know their MPs, who voted for these cuts, are accountable to them, and if they’re not happy about the cuts, they should make the decision in the next election to choose representation who listens to them.”

He also said that there was another event the following night in Courtenay/Comox, where, despite the community’s population being much higher, the turnout was much lower. According to Monckton, that shows the exceptional level of engagement of Campbell Riverites have with their health care system.

“It was great to hear people sharing their stories of the challenges they’re facing,” Monckton said, adding that long-term care homes were an especially hot topic of discussion at the meeting.

“In the end, when you have people like Maude Barlow and Paul Moist going around to communities like this, and they show up in the numbers like we saw in Campbell River, it’s really indicative of the severity of the issue,” Monckton said, “and we need to keep people talking about it.