An Open Letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne from the Ontario Health Coalition and its member groups in Niagara and other regions of the province
Posted March 23rd, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Dear Premier Wynne,
As presented, the 2016 Ontario Budget contains a plan to have many seniors pay substantially more for prescription drugs, based on their incomes.
In addition, the government is planning to increase the co-payment for filling prescriptions. Under this plan, seniors with incomes over $19,300 for a single person or $32,300 for a couple, will have to pay nearly double the deductible before their drugs are covered.
Deductible costs will increase from $100 to as much as $170. In addition, all seniors, regardless of income, will see their co-payment rise when they go in to get prescriptions filled.
Premier, we are asking you to cancel the fee increases for seniors and uphold the principle of universality for our health care system. As Ontario pays down its deficit, the fundamental values that underlie our public health care programs should not be abandoned.
Universal publicly-funded health care is understood as a fundamental value in Canada. The idea that the wealthy and the poor share the same health services and therefore have a common interest in its quality and success, is cornerstone to our health system.
This is the foundational belief for our public health care system, supported unanimously by all political parties when the Canada Health Act was passed, and it is the foundational value upon which we are calling for an expansion of public health care in Canada to cover a national prescription medicine program for all Canadians. Ontario has, in many ways, led that call. We are asking you not to break now with the principles that underlie that vision.
Public health care is about taking care of one another. We pay through our taxes for care when we are of working age and healthy –and we share the cost across society — so that the burden for care is not shouldered by the sick, the elderly and the dying. This is a point of pride for most of us.
Already seniors face mounting out-of-pocket costs for long-term care, respite and medical supplies. As local hospital services are closed in more and more towns, seniors face significant new costs for rehabilitation, lab tests, and travel costs.
Unofficially, home care is already subject to means-testing, forcing families to shoulder ever more of the expense. When one adds to these existing user costs to the planned higher deductibles and co-payments for drugs, the burden for middle income seniors is becoming unbearable.
In fact, Premier, as you know, across Canada, the progressive public interest organizations that work on health care are advocating for the principles of the Canada Health Act not only to be safeguarded in hospitals and clinics, but also extended to cover home care and drugs in a bid to protect equity and reduce suffering as health care is reformed.
It is distressing to see the Ontario government moving in the opposite direction.
That our public services should enhance social cohesion and improve equity is a quintessentially liberal idea. Indeed, the universality and equity principles were written into the Canada Health Act under the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau and Health Minister Monique Bégin. They have been upheld by governments of all stripes since. They should not be abandoned lightly.
Ontario already has a means-tested method to provide income for needed health care services. It is called the tax system. Through the rebuilding of a progressive tax system that asks the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share, funding can be raised for needed care and services.
Premier, there is no reason to increase user fees on people when they are elderly, sick, dying and least able to pay. Respectfully, we ask you to reconsider the policy direction of dismantling universality and subjecting more health care services to user fees at point of need.
Derrell R. Dular, Managing Director Alliance of Seniors/ Older Canadians Network
Roslyn Harris, Chair Association of Jewish Seniors
Wanda Tucker, Chair Campbellford Health Coalition
John Meguerian, Vice Chair Canadian Association of Retired Persons – Niagara Chapter
Fred Hahn, President & Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario
Josephine Grayson, Chair Care Watch Shirley Roebuck, Chair Chatham-Kent Health Coalition
Andrew Lee, President Chinese Golden Age Club of Mississauga
Barry Stevens, President Congress of Union Retirees – Toronto Area Council
Treena Hollingworth, Chair Concerned Citizens – Stratford Area
Georgie Clarke, President Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities
Michael Butler, National Health Care Campaigner Council of Canadians
Roy Brady, Chapter Chair Council of Canadians – Peterborough – Kawarthas Chapter Fiona McMurran, Chapter Chair Council of Canadians – South Niagara Chapter
Lyle Hargrove,President Congress of Union Retirees – South Central Council
Charlie Courneyea & Trish McAuliffe, Co-Chairs Durham Health Coalition
Kimberly DeYong, Chair Essex County Health Coalition
Kevin Smith, President Grey Bruce Labour Council
Dr. Ted Haines, member & Rolf Gerstenberger, Co-Chair Hamilton Health Coalition
Harold Pickering, Co-Chair Kingston Health Coalition
Jo-anne M. Boulding, Barrister, Solicitor and Executive Director Lake Country Community Legal Clinic
Peter Bergmanis, Co-Chair London Health Coalition
Susan Doyle, Executive Director Lumacare
Bob Harrick, Chair Mississauga Seniors’ Council Dr. Amarjit Banwatt, President Mississauga Seniors Club Zul Kassamali, President Multicultural Council for Ontario Seniors
Herb John, President National Pensioners Federation
Sue Hotte, Chair Niagara Health Coalition
Sue McIntyre, Co-Chair North Bay Health Coalition
Erin Harris, Past-President Older Women’s Network Michael Hurley, President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions
Suzanne Clancy, President Ontario Federation of Union Retirees
Natalie Mehra, Executive Director Ontario Health Coalition
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President Ontario Public Services Employees Union
Mike Donaldson, President Ontario Public Services Employees Union – Local 464
Tara Maszczakiewicz, President Ontario Public Services Employees Union – Local 684 Paul Elliott, President Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Manfred Netzel, President Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation – Active Retirees Members Chapter 12 Toronto
Stuart Ryan, Co-Chair Ottawa Health Coalition Bryan J. Smith, Chair Oxford Coalition for Social Justice
Marion Burton, President Peterborough and District Labour Council
Charlene Avon & Roy Brady, Co-Chairs Peterborough Health Coalition
Len Hope, Chair Port Elgin Health Coalition
Shirley Roebuck, Chair Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition
Margo Dale, Chair Sault Ste. Marie Health Coalition Ron Sim, General Manager Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre
Sue Hotte, Chair Save the Welland Hospital Group
Doug Macpherson, National Coordinator Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees
Karu Navarajnarajah, Sri Lankan Tamil Seniors Group of Etobicoke
Jules Tupker, Co-Chair Thunder Bay Health Coalition
Mary Hellin & Malcolm Stewart, Co-Presidents Toronto Council on Aging
Phyllis Creighton, Toronto Raging Grannies
Jerry Dias, President Unifor
Len Hope, Executive Board Member Unifor Retired Workers Council
Les MacDonald, Chairperson Unifor – Local 222 Retired Workers Chapter – Oshawa
Roxie Baker, Chairperson Unifor – Local 1325 Retired Workers Chapter– Stratford
Gerry Graham, President United Seniors of Ontario Phuoc Tran, President Vietnamese Cambodian Laotian Services Association
–~ Protecting Public Medicare for All ~
Ontario Health Coalition 15 Gervais Drive, Suite 604 Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8 firstname.lastname@example.org
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