Workers rallied on Parliament Hill while Premiers and Prime Minister Trudeau negotiated a new health care funding deal for provinces and territories.
Ahead of the February 7th action, Unifor launched a petition to send a message to provincial and federal decision-makers to protect the future of public health care in the deal.
The event brought together union workers and health care advocates from across the country to demand that people are put ahead of profits.
Unifor members from health care and many other sectors united in support of the call for better, public health care.
“We represent workers from every major sector in Canada, all here for one reason today. We’re here to support health care workers and public health care,” Len Poirier, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer, highlighted Unifor’s vast, multi-sector health care activism before thanking participants for attending.
Jenn Murray, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director, asked attendees to think about the effects of the crisis on health care workers, who struggle to provide care while governments underfund hospitals. Murray cited examples of paramedic services forced to wait hours before transferring care and patients passing away before receiving care. “Imagine going to work every single day, not knowing what new crisis you’re going to face?”
Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi reflected on the tragic failures of Ontario’s long-term care system and called out the province’s already privatized mental health and addictions care. “This is what they’re moving towards for all health care, are we going to let them do it? No! Workers are the solution to this crisis, with the opposition we form in every province across this country.”
Other provinces are following Ontario’s model of health care cuts, underspending and privatization. Olivier Carrière, Assistant to the Quebec Director, said that $2 billion in private profits in health care has already been made in Quebec alone. “That money needs to stay in the system, not to go into private pockets!”
“It sickens me to know that in the West we have one Premier who’s fighting for public health care, and three other Premiers who are doing everything that can to dismantle it!,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director as he pledged to fight for health care at the ballot box in Alberta and Manitoba this year.
This event was organized by the Canadian Health Coalition and endorsed by Unifor, The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), Council of Canadians, BC Health Coalition, Friends of Medicare, Inter Pares, Ottawa Health Coalition, Manitoba Health Coalition, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The demands shared at the rally, and through the multi-union petition include calls for the federal government to:
- Implement a comprehensive strategy to retain and recruit healthcare workers and end the staffing crisis.
- Ensure funding is appropriately allocated and committed to fulfill the promises of creating national Pharmacare and dental programs.
- Phase out for-profit long-term care homes and transition toward community-based, publicly owned or non-profit homes.
Sign the petition to have your voice heard during these critical negotiations and get updates on the campaign.