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Ontario Health Coalition visits Woodstock City Hall to promote Medicare

Posted: June 15, 2017

By: Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Some Friendly City residents were treated Sunday to a nice warm hug from a seven-foot-tall teddy bear.

The Ontario Health Coalition and the Oxford Coalition for Social Justice brought the giant teddy bear to city hall to help share the message “we can’t bear to lose Medicare.”

Oxford coalition chair Bryan Smith said the hug was intended to be comforting, reflecting the comfort we have in provincial Medicare.

“Our goal is to keep people aware of what a wonderful treasure that is,” Smith said, “and to make sure that services are not removed from it, which has been happening, and to make sure that it’s preserved as something that’s public and something that people have access to without any difficulties or charges.”

Smith said the coalition is in support of keeping what Medicare already has, as well as expanding its services.

“We’ve seen diminished services in a number of areas and people are waiting,” the chair said. “People are waiting a long time for hip surgery, so they’re not mobile. They’re waiting a long time for eye surgery, so they don’t have vision, which again limits their mobility and makes it dangerous for them to move around.

“It’s really about providing a level of care that people want and need and deserve, and that also allows them to live full lives and contribute to our community.”

The giant teddy bear was the brainchild of the Ontario Health Coalition and is on tour around Ontario. Smith said there are actually two bears – one touring in southern Ontario and another touring in northern Ontario.

“We’ve got the southern bear. It’s not quite ferocious as the northern one,” Smith joked. “It will only give bear hugs.”

The event was also meant to promote a panel that will be taking place later this month in Oxford County, where experts will be hearing from the community about their experiences with Medicare and the value it has. This panel will be hosted in Ingersoll on June 26.

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