Of all the blessings that has come from my lucky birth within the borders of Canada, our public health care system tops the list. It has seen me through the bone breaks, influenzas and allergies of my youth to the births, both dramatic, of my children and then through the medical emergencies of their youth. It supported my parents when they passed from this world to the next and I have always assumed it would be there for me. No longer. Under our current federal government, public, national health care is something I am going to have to fight for.
If a Greek in ancient Athens was asked to compare himself with an ancient Egyptian he would have said, “I am free”. When I am asked to compare a Canadian with an American I say, “we have a national, public health care system” which makes me free; free from the anxiety that my American colleagues experience when they wonder if they have health insurance or if the insurance they have will cover their ailment or condition and if it does, for how long. And that freedom has allowed me to be an arts entrepreneur and create two award winning, internationally produced theatre companies that have added to economic activity in the arts sector which now contributes 10.8 billion to the Toronto GDP. I was free to innovate and create jobs instead of becoming an employee with health care benefits.
So when I discovered that on March 31st Prime Minister Harper was ending federal leadership in health care and has made no move to defend the Canadian Health Act which is under attack in British Columbia I was alarmed. And I am not alone. “Eight out of ten Canadians either support (51.1%) or somewhat support (29.4%) Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling a First Ministers’ Meeting to secure a plan for the future of health care in Canada.” (Ipsos Research 07/13) Indeed. You don’t have to be a policy analyst to see what the end of national standards could mean for national health. For me this is much more than wait times and economic efficiencies. Prime Minister Harper’s policies threaten my liberty.
That is why I am joining Shirley Douglas and performing artists John Alcorn, Ben Bass, Brent Carver, Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Mary Lou Fallis, Kathy Greenwood, Art Hindle, David Huband, Tabby Johnson, Ray Landry, Jani Lauzon, Napalm the Magnificent, Judy Marshak, Nora McLellan, Amy Matysio, Teresa Pavlinek, Fiona Reid, Julian Richings, Rick Roberts, John Roby, Mike Ross, Michael Therriault, Adrian Truss, David Warrack, Nancy White, with Rick Mercer and Kiefer Sutherland on video, to “Holler 4 Health Care” as part of the National Day of Action for a New Health Accord.
Canadian voters are often accused of apathy. For me that time is past.
David S. Craig is an award winning Toronto playwright and producer.
Holler 4 Healthcare! takes place March 31st at 8pm, Trinity St. Paul’s 427 Bloor St W, Toronto.
Tickets $12-25 at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/
Holler 4 Health Care! is part of a National Day of Action organized by the Canadian Health Coalition – www.healthcoalition.ca