What do politics and the Trail Market on the Esplanade have in common?
The Jubilee Park venue provides the back drop for a local seniors’ advocacy group to talk health care and your vote in the upcoming federal election.
“Our main focus is public health care,” explained Ron Cameron from the Society for Protection and Care of Seniors (SPCS). “What we are saying is if enough people vote for public health care, then the politicians that are elected would have a strong mandate to strengthen public health care in Canada,” he added. “Because over the last few years, public health care has been eroded.”
The Greater Trail/West Kootenay group is asking all voters to pledge a vote for the party with the strongest commitment to public healthcare, universal Pharmacare and programs like home support.
Cameron clarified this is a non-partisan venture, and not only for seniors.
The group is using the market to connect with people and share the message that health matters, particularly at a federal level.
“We are saying, ‘If you are young, this is your future, so look ahead to your future,’” he said. “If Medicare is being challenged, or changes dramatically, then you won’t have the same kind of protection you’ve had since you were an infant.”
In tandem with a non-profit organization called the BC Health Coalition (BCHC), the Trail group asks market-goers to sign a pledge form and provide contact information such as an email or phone number.
“BCHC is a central piece to this whole thing,” said Cameron. “They will evaluate where each party stands on healthcare solutions and then develop an election guide. Then the coalition will send this information to people who have signed the pledge.”
Insight gathered during the outdoor events will be forwarded to BCHC to assist with the development of an “election plan for the vote,” Cameron said.
“First, we are hoping this will encourage people to vote because in the last federal election, there were nine million people who didn’t,” he continued.
“And we want health care to be a priority for the federal politicians.”
The SPCS members support five goals for the next federal government, no matter who is sitting in power.
“We want a new health accord to restore funding to the provinces,” said Cameron, adding, “over the next five years, $5 billion…will be removed from healthcare transfers to the provinces.”
Senior groups are asking federal politicians to invest in a national seniors’ healthcare strategy.
“They can do a lot to help provinces develop a better healthcare strategy,” reiterated Cameron.
Additionally, the local group and BCHC are pushing for universal Pharmacare, because many seniors can’t afford their medications.
“Poverty is most prevalent among senior women,” Cameron added. “We want the federal party to invest in a national poverty plan to eliminate poverty.”
The increasing number of private clinics undermines public health care, he concluded, so senior organizations are requesting federal assistance to enforce Canada’s universal health insurance system (Medicare).
For information, visit bchealthcoalition.ca or email email@example.com.
Residents will be asked to cast a ballot in the newly formed South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding Oct. 19.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped the writ Aug. 2, which makes the 42nd Canadian general election the longest in the country’s history.