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BLOG: On Canada Day let us celebrate & let us recommit to those fundamental values that so many of us share

Posted: July 1, 2020

(July 1, 2020)

It is Canada Day and after such a challenging winter and spring, it is time to celebrate. One of our greatest achievements as a society is public health care for all. For all of the pain and grief that COVID-19 has caused, it has also reminded us all of our interdependence. Our health relies on the health and well-being of others. We know this now, more than ever. And now, more than ever, we have been reminded of the vital importance of our public health care system; of our public programs and services; that government can create massive new programs overnight to support people in hardship and to improve equity; that human life and caring, and not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, must be the priority.

If COVID-19 laid bare the inequities and insufficiencies of our society and our social safety net, it also brought out the compassion and caring of people. Tens of thousands have advocated to improve care for the elderly. Tens of thousands have marched to stop discrimination and police brutality against Black people. En masse, Ontarians supported the teachers in their struggle to save in-person classroom education and stop cuts. En masse, Ontarians have taken measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help our neighbours who are alone. Several hundred thousand health care workers in our province alone went to work throughout the pandemic, despite the risk to themselves and their families, to care for others.

During the many nights through the pandemic, as we were doing the heartbreaking work of counting up the thousands of people who have been infected and died as a result of COVID-19 in our long-term care homes, hospitals and health care facilities to write reports to release to the media; these things have brought hope. During all the days as we have taken calls from countless families who had lost their loved ones or were desperate and afraid that they are not getting enough care, even in the midst of their personal crises and grief, every single one expressed concern for the workers and for other families, thanked us for our work, and wanted to do everything possible to help.

People are so good. We care about each other, truly, and we want our society to reflect this.

Even Ontario’s government, intent as they are on tax cuts and cutting the role of government, agreed to cover COVID-19 related costs for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP. (We are supporting advocacy efforts to ensure that hospitals and health care providers do not charge them. We are also supporting efforts to cover health care generally for those who are uninsured. See the campaign here: We hope that you will help with this also.)

As we move forward, let us recommit to those principles that led to the creation of our social programs, like health care: a fundamental belief in equity, in compassion, in our interdependence and our shared obligation to take care of one another. Let us reaffirm our desire to create a society that protects people and supports everyone to live to their human potential. At the same time, let us never forget the terrible negligence and carelessness of the for-profit industries that have taken over too much of our health care. Let us remember that we can make a difference and let us never again accept diminishing expectations. Let us remember that our governments can do more — much more — to support and improve the quality of life for all Canadians, especially the elderly, the ill, those who are in need, those who suffer the terrible legacy of colonialism, those who face discrimination. Let us join with people around the world who are fighting to expand and improve public health care for all.

Happy Canada Day!

Natalie Mehra

Executive Director