Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

March 24, 2016

HEALTH CARE UNDER FIRE: Why I am running as a candidate for the Communist Party in the Manitoba election, Andrew Taylor

Like many people in Manitoba, I am very concerned by the general tone of the Pallister Conservative’s “slimmed-down government” polemic. For example, the Conservative’s have opposed the current government’s no-layoff clause for 14,000 govt. staff hired on or before April 1, 2015.  Pallister says this is upsetting as it could "tie his hands" on the exact changes he's able to make. But what are the exact changes the Tories will make?

Mr Pallister dances around the question as a true demagogue does, and claims any Tory administration cuts would affect smaller areas of government, not core services like healthcare and education. But Brian Pallister and his Conservatives admire US-style, two-tier, private-for-profit health care where their rich friends can buy their way to the front of the queue for scans, MRIs and other procedures. Brian Pallister has spent his career privatising services. He tried to sell off Homecare and introduced user fees.

So I personally worry, for example, about the continuation of daily healthcare worker visits for my bed- ridden mother, for whom my wife and I are currently caring.  I worry about any future deterioration in my mother’s condition and should she requires institutional care whether further bed closures and staff cuts will be implemented, achieved by not hiring vacation relief, shortening periods of orientation, and deleting positions through attrition. 

Anti-poverty advocates rally at the front steps of the Manitoba legislature in April 2015 to demand the government make poverty-reduction measures a priority Photo BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Pallister’s Tories say they will launch a health-care 'task force' to tackle the deplorable wait times in ER for example, but I suspect private encroachments on the public health system will very likely be part of the Tory “solution’ to the problems.

While there has been some increase in staffing levels of health care professionals under the current NDP government and Premier Selinger says health care is a “sacred cow,” the reality is that poor people in Manitoba have the worst health and die sooner. This is closely linked with racism and the national oppression of Indigenous peoples.

The death of Indigenous man Brian Sinclair (in wheelchair top-right) the man who was cool to the touch with rigor mortis setting in when a doctor finally saw him, 34 hours after he arrived at Winnipeg hospital emergency room in September, 2008

I am running as a candidate for the Communist Party of Canada in the Manitoba election in the riding of Minto. Our platform calls to reverse privatization and for an expanded universal, quality, accessible and free health care coverage to include dental, eye and pharmaceuticals.  Many older pensioners don’t have Blue Cross and rely on our provincial Pharmacare, already paying deductibles. We also call to expand home care and improve nursing homes.

The Party also calls for a full ban on the high ambulance fees, which actually serve to deter very sick citizens from calling for transport to ER.

Health care delivery in Manitoba must respect the principles of the Canada health act and we must reverse the expansion of private, for-profit clinics. We demand Improvement in the quality and quantity of health care in remote regions of the province. Further we call for the establishment of affirmative action admissions (ie. pay and employment equity) for discriminated groups in all the professions.

Our hospitals need to meet cross-Canada benchmarks in all areas including wait times, and the racist discriminatory approach to the Indigenous people has to be rooted out through actions such as public participation in a review of ER and ambulance policies and attitudes to Aboriginal people. 

Another important issue in this election is climate change. We call for the adoption of emergency legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and propose job creation through renewable energy and conservation programs, including the phasing out of coal-fired plants. 

While two research nuclear reactors existed at the Pinawa research facility, no nuclear generating capacity has ever been constructed in Manitoba.  The Crown corporation, Manitoba Hydro, is the sole commercial provider of electrical power in the province of Manitoba. It is important we keep nuclear power out of Manitoba, and keep Manitoba Hydro fully public.

Connected to this issue is the need for substantially expanded urban mass transit, and the total elimination of bus and transit fares. The cost of an individual adult ticket is $2.65 cash and a monthly pass for adults is $88.55. In addition, we call for funded high-speed rail as a better alternative to highways and airlines and legislate stringent vehicle emission controls.

This way we can have an all-round pro-people approach to our common life in Winnipeg which has an inclusive people-first orientation in all sectors, rather than the one that serves Big Business and its profit margins.

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