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Conservative and Liberal candidates snub health-care debate

Posted: October 6, 2015

(October 6, 2015)

By: David Gough, Postmedia Network

It’s likely that a lot of voters weren’t moved to change their vote following an all-candidates health-care forum held at the Walpole Island Sports Complex on Oct. 1.

Both the Liberal and Conservative candidates snubbed the forum organized by the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, leaving the NDP and Green candidates mostly speaking in front of their supporters and preaching to the choir regarding health-care.

NDP candidate Rex Isaac and Green candidate Jim Johnston were on hand, and both took the opportunity to discredit the Conservative government.

The forum panel also featured Natalie Mehra, executive director, Ontario Health Coalition and Tina Stevens, an Aboriginal health advocate.

Although health is a provincial responsibility, Mehra said the federal government is responsible for First Nation health-care services, RCMP and military health-care and funding, as well as pharmaceutical policy. The federal government is also responsible for upholding the Canada Health Act.

Mehra also blasted Liberal candidate Ken Filson and Conservative candidate Bev Shipley for skipping the forum, which attracted about 40 people.

“It’s an affront to democracy frankly. Health-care is a key issue for voters all across this county. There are big issues on the table,” Mehra said.

She points out that the next federal government will tackle health-care issues such as a drug program, an Alzheimer’s strategy, and dealing with a funding shortfall.

Stevens said took aim at the Conservative government for a funding shortfall for health-care, as well as a number of cuts in funding to Aboriginal health initiatives.

Green candidate Jim Johnston said when the health-care system was first introduced, it was funded by 50 percent by the federal government. Now it pays 12.5 percent of the cost.

Johnston said the reason why health-care is not working in Canada is because it’s being “choked to death.”

Isaac spoke at-length about the NDP’s health-care platform and initiatives.

The federal election is Oct. 19.

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