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Candidates likely to skip health forum

Posted: September 30, 2015

(September 30, 2015)

By David Gough, Postmedia Network

Despite the fact that the Conservative and Liberal candidates cannot make it, the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition is still hosting all-candidates event this Thursday.

The event is being called an open forum on Canadian health care. It will be held at the Walpole Island Sports Complex this Thursday (Oct. 1) from 7-9 p.m.

Two Lambton-Kent-Middlesex federal candidates are scheduled to be on hand—Rex Isaac (NDP) and Jim Johnston (Green). The other two candidates—Ken Filson (Liberal) and Bev Shipley (Conservative)  told organizers that they are not coming.

Chatham-Kent Health Coalition president Shirley Roebuck said they tried to accommodate the Liberal and Conservative candidates, but she said it became apparent that they were not going to make themselves available.

She admits she is disappointed that the Liberal and Conservative candidates are going to be no-shows.

“Their attendance would’ve ensured that the audience was able to hear all of the party platforms about how they would address health care,” Roebuck said, calling it “unfortunate” that they would not come.

“I changed the date several times, and the (Liberal) candidate kept saying he had another commitment,” Roebuck said.

She said she is unsure why Shipley could not make the event.

Originally the event was an all-candidates debate about health care, but with only two candidates coming, Roebuck said she made the event an open forum.

Even without the two federal candidates, Roebuck said she believes it will be a dynamic event.

“The health-care experts we have are very involved in the issues surrounding health-care now—federal and provincial. I think the public is beginning to realize that health-care is in trouble. They are beginning to want answers.”

Candidates, along with health care experts, are scheduled to discuss the federal government’s role and responsibilities for health care, as well as pressing needs for health care, including a national Pharmacare program, the renewal of the now-expired Health Accord (ten-year funding agreement between the federal government and the provinces) and a national seniors strategy that would address the need for quality home care and long-term care at the national level.

Along with Isaac and Johnston, a panel will include health care experts Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition; Tina Stevens, an aboriginal health advocate and Ken Lewenza Jr., a health care advocate.

The forum is being sponsored by Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, Ontario Nurses Association and Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, Chatham Kent Chapter.