BC Health Coalition participates in international panel on universal health care
The NC Medicare for All Coalition and the Faith Health Caucus hosted an international panel on January 18, 2022, "Hemispheric Universal Health Care Successes: Cuba and Canada". Organized by supporters of Medicare in North Carolina, the panel brought together four speakers to explore the successes of universal health coverage in Cuba and Canada.
Representing the BC Health Coalition (BCHC) on the panel were Ayendri Riddell, BCHC Campaigner and Colleen Fuller, President of REACH Community Health Centre and the Co-chair of BCHC's Anti-Privatization Working Group. They joined Dr. Leni Villagomez Reeves and Rev. Jimmie Hawkins who explored the internationally renowned public health care system of Cuba.
Riddell shares the history of the grassroots people movement that organized for public health care coverage in Canada. "Although Medicare was born in Saskatchewan on July 1, 1962, the organizing started decades before any legislation was passed," Riddel says. Farm groups, trade unions, academics, and faith groups spent decades organizing a power base for Medicare. Tommy Douglas himself would admit that Medicare was a result of organizing and of the people.
Fuller's follow-up presentation provides an oversight of Canada's current health care system, some of its weaknesses, and the ways it continues to be threatened by for-profit health interests. She explains the strong connection between the Canadian and US health systems and makes a case for cross-border collaboration to strengthen public health care. "It's in our interest for the US to have universal health care. Your corporations are coming to Canada and other countries as well, and if they are not allowed to play as large a role in the US... that would benefit Americans and Canadians".