Pharmacare Town Hall TONIGHT!

Our American friends are debating whether Health Care is a human right, but Canadians decided that it was long ago.  Which is why it is bizarre that, of all the countries with Universal Health Care, Canada is the only country that doesn’t have Universal Pharmacare!

In 2014, Dr. Eric Hoskins ~ Ontario’s Liberal Minister of Health and Long-Term Care ~ wrote an OpEd for the Globe and Mail explaining Why Canada needs a national pharmacare program

It has been estimated that Universal public drug coverage would:

  • reduce total spending on prescription drugs in Canada by $7.3 billion
  • save the Private Sector $8.2 billion
  • increase costs to government $1.0 billion

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Basic Income

Kitchener City Hall

Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region
Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region

Today is the Provincial Basic Income Pilot Consultation at Kitchener City Hall.

Done right, universal basic income would be awesome.

The provincial government is looking for 3 places in Ontario in which to conduct the pilot program.  Waterloo Region be one would be excellent, as Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region will tell you.  The more people who come out to support this, the better. Basic income would replace other social subsidies, it should improve your circumstances. Done well it can take the stigma out of the social safety net and even eliminate poverty.

If you haven’t, you should consider attending.  Register here:
https://www.ontario.ca/form/register-attend-session-basic-income-pilot-consultation

You can make an online submission until January 31, 2017

“Basic income is an idea which provides a different approach to income security and reducing poverty,” the statement said. “It’s important we hear as many views as possible to ensure we get this right.”

The ministry says it’s particularly interested in thoughts about how the pilot program is designed, including who should be eligible, which communities to include, and how it will be evaluated.

“What they’re doing is trying to collect information in order to build a position. It’s very difficult (for us) to take a firm position at this point because we don’t actually know what the province is going to end up doing,” Bartholomew-Saunders said. “They’re collecting information to determine what they’re going to be doing.”

— Kitchener Post: Public invited to have say on basic guaranteed income

Find out more on the province’s page:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/basic-income-pilot-consultation

And Basic Income Waterloo is a good resource:
http://biwr.ca/what-is-basic-income/


PS: I almost forgot the details (in Whoa!Canada’s shiny new calendar)
Basic Income Consultation

When:  Fri, 13 January, 6:30 – 9:00pm
Where:  Kitchener City Hall,
200 King St W, Kitchener,
            ON N2G 4G7, Canada (map)
June 2016 Basic Income Waterloo Region discussion at Queen Street Commons, Kitchener
June 2016 Basic Income Waterloo Region discussion at Queen Street Commons, Kitchener

Democracy Week ~ Fair Vote Canada

As Canadian democracy becomes more mythological every day, I find myself cheering for Fair Vote Canada even more. Our electoral system is antiquated and grossly unfair, because, of course, it was established in the 18th Century. Before automobiles, telephones or television.

Things have changed. A lot. There have been occasional changes to our electoral system, but it seeme to me that they have all been made in the spirit of bolstering the ruling political party that has made them. The elements that were supposed to provide oversight (such as Governor General, Lieutenant Governor, Senate) have all been disempowered to the point where Canadian voters mostly have even less say in our government than we did back in 1867.

So I very much support Fair Vote Canada. This is the second year for Fair Vote’s Democracy Week.  It began this year on September 15th,  the International Day of Democracy.  Fair Vote held a Democracy Fair on King Street in Waterloo, yesterday as part of Open Streets.

Tonight Waterloo Region’s Fair Vote Chapter presents:

Electoral Reform 101

7 PM at the Lyle S. Hallman School of Social Work
120 Duke Street West, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

“Wondering what the talk of electoral reform is all about? Why do we need it? What does proportional representation mean? Come learn the basics with this presentation and bring your questions!”

Hope to see you there!

Two Protests for June 2nd, 2011

“The Black Mark Budget Action”
and
“Against the Criminalization of Dissent”

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Anita Nickerson says:

If you are undecided about coming out to one of the BlackMark Budget Actions Saturday at noon, please read this post and share it. Thanks to Jennifer Ross for compiling this ever-growing list.

Bill C-38 has something in it for everyone.

Concerned about the Environment? This bill:

  • repeals The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act;
  • dismantles The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
  • excludes concerned citizens from assessments of major projects like the Enbridge pipeline;
  • downloads responsibility for most environmental assessments to provinces;
  • gives final say over pipeline projects to Conservative cabinet ministers—regardless of environmental impacts.
  • lays off the entire Canadian scientific community looking at ocean contaminants. Did you know we have a lot of coastline? Meaning there’s a lot of ocean not being examined, which will impact the worldwide science in this area.
  • eliminates habitat protection from The Fisheries Act;
  • limits the waterways protected by The Species at Risk Act and The Fisheries Act;
  • dismantles the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, leaving natural areas vulnerable

Perhaps you are concerned about Health. This bill:

  • shortchanges cash-strapped provinces of expected health transfers by $31 billion;
  • weakens food and drug regulations at the discretion of the Minister of Health;
  • ends vital Auditor General oversight of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;
  • paves the way for private contractors to perform food safety inspections.

Is it Employment that interests you? This bill:

  • forces Canadians to work two years longer, to age 67, to qualify for Old Age Security;
  • cuts workers off Employment Insurance if they don’t take any job the Minister of Human Resources deems “suitable”;
  • repeals The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act;
  • removes federal contractors from the protection of The Employment Equity Act.
  • brings in foreign workers and allows them to be paid 15% less than our minimum wage.

Is it Democracy that interests you? This bill:

  • reduces the Auditor General’s powers to hold government accountable to Canadians;
  • removes independent oversight from 12 key government agencies—including the – Northern Pipeline Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Revenue Agency;
  • eliminates organizations that produce independent policy research—including Rights & Democracy, the National Council of Welfare, and the First Nations Statistical Institute;
  • dissolves the Public Appointments Commission designed to ensure key positions are assigned based on merit instead of insider connections;
  • allows the FBI to come into Canada and arrest Canadians on Canadian soil.

You only need to be concerned over one of these to come out and express your displeasure at the way ALL of these are being rammed down our throats without the slightest bit of examination, discussion, or negotiation. And almost none of it was in the election platform of a year ago.

In Waterloo Region:

Join us Saturday June 2 at noon at Conservative MP Peter Braid’s office
22 King Street South, Waterloo

and

Stephen Woodworth’s at noon
Suite 12, 300 Victoria Street North, Kitchener

to protest the omnibus budget bill.

Bring signs with messages specifically against the bill.

Bring Canadian flags.

and dress appropriately for the weather!

Facebook Event page

For information about the other 68 Black Mark Protests scheduled across Canada visit leadnow.ca

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Against the Criminalization of Dissent

Opposing Bill C 78 and the Federal Bill C 309

Kitchener City Hall ~ June 2nd ~ at 7:00pm Saturday Evening

Demonstration in Solidarity with the struggle in Quebec.

From the Facebook Event page

Bring your Masks, Bring your Pots and Pans, Claim our Freedom to Dissent, Protesting is not a Crime!

We will wear masks and hear speeches about the struggle in Quebec, the international assault on the poor, and the Federal Bill C 309.

Then we will disobey. We will march in our masks.

Bring your pots and pans. As demos in Quebec have been incorporating the clanging of pots and pans – we will do the same!

Some masks will be available as supplies last. Feel free to wear any type of mask that you’d like.
Get creative; we can have fun, mocking these laws!

Background:

As of May 26, students in Quebec are on their 104th day of strike and protest against proposed tuition increases.
A violent clamp down has taken place and police brutality is rampant. Serious injuries have resulted.

On May 18, 2012 Bill C 78 was passed into law. The law restricts the ability to demonstrate and organize opposition to the system.
The legislation provides for fines of $3,000 for wearing a mask.
Penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for a student leader and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or
student federations who organize protests outside of the fascist framework of the bill.
The struggle is only growing and intensifying in response!!!!

There is also legislation in the works that threatens to further criminalize dissent, across the Nation

Blake Richards, MP Wild Rose AB, put forward ‘An Act to amend the Criminal Code (concealment of identity)’, in a private members bill. Bill C-309 proposes penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 for protesters who wear a mask or disguise. This will allow for the arrest of anyone wearing a mask at a protest, even if they are not said to have done anything else illegal.

Bill C 309, titled ‘Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act’, was presented in a Committee Report on Feb 15, 2012. Having passed that, the Bill will now be read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee.

Read the entire bill. Its short!

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To keep up with the Waterloo Region/Kitchener Casseroles follow @CasserolesKW on Twitter and the Casseroles Night In K-W Facebook Page.

More on Bill C-309 the anti-Mask law: Of Masks and Freedom

Kitchener Casseroles

assembly begins

When I arrived at Kitchener City Hall for “Casseroles Night In Canada,” I was proud to see how many people had turned out to show our support, not just for the striking Quebec students (as of this writing the strike is now at Day 110), but because of concern about the erosion of Canadian civil rights by laws like Quebec’s Bill 78 or C-309.

And the crowd kept growing.

the crowd stretches along the front of Kitcener City Hall

Imagine my surprise at reading macleans.ca: Modest crowds at Casserole Nights

being interviewed at the protest
Organizer Charles Boyes

Hah! There were a lot more than a hundred people there, by the end of the night there were closer to 300 collected at the Kitchener Casseroles rally.

With barely more than a day spent in organizing the “event” on Facebook, that was an awfully impressive turnout for a mid sized Ontario city to muster in support of our Quebecois neighbours.

Bill 78

As many have pointed out,  Jean Charest’s National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 78 which severely restricts peaceful protest in direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This law has a two year limit, which is apparently to get around any constitutional challenge. This blatant manipulation of the mechanics of government to deliberately strip citizens of our civil rights should not be tolerated.

banging a pot with a wooden spoon
“Casseroles” is a traditional form of political protest in Quebec

… In Quebec, an event is also underway. The organizers gave their route to the police. Monday night, the police department of the City of Quebec (SPVQ) has arrested dozens of protesters outside the building where the negotiations took place between the government and student associations.

— Huffington Post: 36e manifestation nocturne à Montréal [google translation]

protester bangs a pot holding a poster poster

There are a lot of problems facing Canada, and many of them boil down to the fact the Canadian electoral system is seriously broken.

We’ve seen growing voter apathy over the last decades precisely because the Canadian government does *not* listen to citizens, especially when there is a majority government.

A great many citizens have given up on voting in frustration . . . after all, what is the point of educating yourself about the issues and the candidates, and then going out to the polls to cast a vote that doesn’t count? The frustration is very hard to take. As far as I know, the only group working for electoral reform is Fair Vote Canada, a grass roots multi-partisan group seeking to bring fairness to our electoral system.

Protests like this give citizens a voice, and remind us that our voices *should* be heard.

As long as half the Canadian voters stay home from the polls, as long as the system remains broken, this will not get better. The only way to change the system is to engage the citizens who feel disenfranchised. Protests like these can engage Canadians who have come to distrust our so-called representative democracy. Giving a voice to the citizens who have lost faith in our antiquated non-responsive un-representative system is a valuable end, in and of itself.

Standing up for the civil liberties guaranteed Canadians in Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is worth taking to the streets for.

Quebec’s Bill 78 and the federal Private Member’s Bill C-309 criminalize the wearing of masks and/or covering of faces at a protest. Freedom of association, religious freedom, health considerations, and the right to anonymous protest are among the civil liberties threatened by these laws.

When I hear government ministers like James Moore argue that Canadian copyright law needs to be “modernized” because it hasn’t been updated in a few decades makes me wonder why our government isn’t fighting to modernize an electoral system older than Confederation. Could it be because the current system grants a disproportionate amount of power to the few?

We are at a point where technology could be fuelling a period of unprecedented democracy, equality and prosperity for Canadians. I have high hopes that we will be able to achieve meaningful electoral reform and can pass real democracy to our children.

In the Interim. large numbers of Canadians protesting *does* get their attention, even in a majority government. Thank you, Kitchener, for standing up for what’s right, for a better Quebec, and a better Canada.

There had been a police presence on the periphery from the beginning; when the Kitchener Casseroles protest spilled out into King street and spontaneously turned into a march, the police cars moved in with lights flashing, following the protest. I think this made everyone a little bit nervous, but it turned out they were simply effecting traffic control. I would like to extend my thanks to the Waterloo Region Police for rendering this service.

The march wended its way to the Kitchener Market, where anyone who wanted to speak was allowed a forum. Speakers discussed the situation in Quebec, conditions imposed by Bill 78, and discussed the support the protesters have been getting from Quebec citizens and the business community. One professor spoke of the importance of extending educational opportunities to all, and a student from Quebec expressed her thanks to the assemblage for our support.

I am so proud of Kitchener . . . and the rest of Canada 🙂

Waterloo Region Walk-In Clinics (Ontario)

Today a friend asked me if I knew of more walk-in clinics in Waterloo Region.

I have the dubious distinction of being an expert on this issue, having spent far too many years without a family doctor in this land of supposed universal health care. When you don’t have an MD, there are only two options: Walk-In Clinics, or Emergency Rooms.

It isn’t an issue if you’re healthy; and so, by and large, most people don’t really understand, because it doesn’t directly affect them. But it is a terrible thing when you’re ill; but it is far far worse when your child is sick.

This issue is destined to become much worse, very soon. Even if you have a family doctor, ask yourself when your MD will be retiring. Presently the largest demographic of MDs is the same as it is in every other part of society: most of Ontario’s doctors are baby boomers.

waiting list blues

When I moved here the waiting list I wanted to sign with was a year.  They had 2.5 doctors, with the “half” doctor practising half the time here, and half in another municipality.  But he was getting tired of commuting, and so gave both clinics the option of employing him full time.  Our clinic lost.  And after 10 years on the waiting list, they called to ask if I wanted to remain on it.

When I first moved to Waterloo Region more than a decade ago, it wasn’t that big a deal. We could go to the walk-in clinic near Fairview Mall.  They had a really cool set up of plexiglass display cases where model trains would chug along the tracks between the waiting room and though the examination rooms.  Back then, they were open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  These days the hours have been cut back.  If you arrive after 1:00pm on a weekend, chances are they will have closed the day’s intake.  Not because they want to, but because they don’t have enough doctors.   Oh, and sad to say, I haven’t seen the trains run in years, either.

In Canada,  Health Care is a provincial responsibility, but the money comes from the federal government.  Federal funding was cut dramatically several governments ago, and although the funding has since increased,  I suspect levels are still well below where they were.

Flying against a blue sky with a few wisps of coud.

doctor shortage: bad to worse

Doctors all over are retiring much faster than they can be replaced.  It used to be hospitals had waiting lists for family doctors. Not any more.   You can search the Ontario College of Physicians Website, but if you find an MD anywhere close, chances are they have stopped accepting patients by the time you call.

Over the years I’ve watched  our once great health system get starved into the shell we have today.  The example of Canada’s health care success has long been a thorn in the side of the private insurance lobby in the United States… and look what damage that caused.  Now the American Government has had to step in and implement their own public system.   The big insurance companies don’t like government meddling,  because they only get a fraction of the profit they do with private health care.  Canada’s health care system – covering every citizen – costs less per capita than the American system that only covered a small fraction of their population.

Canadians only got universal health care due to minority government horse trading.  My theory is that the ruling parties (and their corporate backers) don’t actually want universal health care, but they know citizens do,  so they don’t dare dismantle it.  Instead of attacking it head on, they have let it waste away.

Some years ago Ontario capped the amount of money any single doctor could make from OHIP in a year.  From a budgetary standpoint, that limits the amount of money the province has to pay to doctors.   Doctors near the US border have been known to go south after they hit their Ontario cap.  In under serviced areas, some doctors have even been known to tend patients without OHIP remuneration.   Other doctors have taken to charging patients for things not covered by OHIP.   And many stay on past the time when they would have retired because there is no one to take over their patient load.

We have a serious doctor shortage right now, but only a trickle of new doctors coming in.  I think this is because the government prefers it this way.  If there were enough doctors, the total amount of money the Provincial Government would be paying out would increase dramatically.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a family doctor, chances are good you don’t see a doctor until you’re good and sick, and probably have been for a long time. Sitting for hours in ER or a clinic is a last resort. Of course, this means there’s less chance of catching things early. And prevention? Forget it. Which means that many of us are less productive, and when we do go in, the procedures often cost much more.

Since so many of us are without an MD, we have no choice but to go to a walk-in clinic. Finding a walk-in clinic in the very under serviced Waterloo Region can be a challenge. And when you need one, you need one NOW.

Yet the yellow pages aren’t a big help, nor is the government website Walk-In Clinics – The Ministry of Health Can Help You: Find The Closest Walk In Clinic that popped up at the top of the Google Search.

The most comprehensive list of walk-in clinics is from the Region of Waterloo Public Health department:

Walk-in Clinics

Cambridge
Cambridge Walk-in Clinic
980 Franklin Blvd.
519-654-2260

Waterloo
The Doctor’s Office
170 University Ave West
519-725-1514

Kitchener
Weber Street Medical Centre
5A-1400 Weber Street East
519-748-6933

Kitchener
Laurentian Walk-in Clinic
750 Ottawa Street South
519-570-3174

Kitchener
Canadian Medical Clinic
100 The Boardwalk
519-279-4098

Kitchener
Urgent Care Clinic
385 Fairway Road S.
519-748-2327

Kitchener
Urgent Care Clinic
751 Victoria Street S.
519-745-2273

This is the list today, 13 March, 2012.  For the most current version check the Public Health Department’s page.

[note: edited for clarity.]