Frontline staff take fight for healthcare to federal policy convention

SEIU Healthcare recently took its fight for healthcare to Montreal, where Canada's Official Opposition held a policy convention from April 12-14.

Frontline workers from across Ontario converged on Quebec to promote the cause of universal healthcare from the convention floor as well as in meetings with key federal New Democrat Members of Parliament, Niki Ashton (Churchill), NDP Health Critic, Libby Davies (Vancouver East), and leader, Thomas Mulcair (Outremont).

“It was inspiring to see [Mulcair] . . . challenging the Harper thinking that we have to live with less,” said SEIU Healthcare member from North York General, Sarah-Lee Correia.

Correia also emphasized how enriching it was to meet like-minded people concerned about the same issues from across the country.
SEIU Healthcare’s president, Sharleen Stewart urged delegates and NDP leader Mulcair to continue to fight on behalf of universal care through a fresh accord on federal transfer payments to the provinces.

Prime Minister Harper has said that he intends to shrink the payments available to the provinces and territories when the Health Accord comes up for renewal in 2014. Harper intends to do this without consulting the provinces and territories first.

Flanked by members in SEIU purple, Stewart spoke from the convention floor in support of the resolution defending Canada’s Health Accord.

Stewart spoke on behalf of the tens of thousands of frontline healthcare workers SEIU Healthcare represents, and about her hopes as a grandmother that a system of universal healthcare would still be in place for her grandchildren – and their grandchildren.

“That is why we need to fight for a new Health Accord in 2014. That is why we need to pass this resolution. And that is why we need new leadership in Ottawa,” said an impassioned Stewart.

SEIU Healthcare also called on the newly-minted leader of the federal Liberal Party Justin Trudeau to make a similar policy commitment to renewing the Health Accord.

The advocacy was part of SEIU Healthcare's wider drive to fulfill the promise of public healthcare and secure medicare for future generations.