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COVID-19 – A Time to reflect

In Solidarity
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Joe Grogan, retired OPSEU member

The current COVID-19 crisis gives us a chance to reflect on some very important realities. Most importantly it shows the need for a public, universal health care system that is properly funded.

We all owe a huge debt to our nursing staff, doctors, scientists and first responders who put their lives on the line every day for us.

For the last decade at least, some politicians in the Conservative and Liberal parties have questioned the need for a publicly funded and universal health system. They believe we have to turn more of the public sector over to the private sector. They try to persuade the public that the private sector is more efficient and can do things cheaper. 

We all have witnessed the growth of private health care facilities in an attempt to convert public health care to for profit systems. We also have seen the impossible fees and incomes that these private health care clinics have produced. 

Federal funding cuts to the provinces for health, education and social services in the 1990s started the hamfisted restructuring of health care and other social services across the county. 

These cuts were not what Tommy Douglas envisioned when he fought for a universal, publicly funded health care system that was based on what his NDP government set up in Saskatchewan. 

Proponents of health care cuts say they’re necessary to address huge government debt, putting the squeeze on the public and in particular the working class.

It’s rare that anyone in government admits debt and deficit problems are partly caused by the uncollected taxes on corporations and tax loopholes. These enormous sums would allow us to have the resources that we need now, especially during the Coronavirus situation. 

Do all hospitals across the country have the beds, other equipment, gowns, other protective equipment such as masks and gloves required by staff to help those suffering from the virus?  What happens when the nurses and doctors start to fall ill?

The coronavirus pandemic is a reality.  It has caused us to think about and to fight for a strong Universal Public Health Care System, but we also have to resolve other related issues too.  The present crisis shows us we have work to do.