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Council of Canadians’ Pharmacare Campaign Update

Council of Canadians’ Pharmacare Campaign Update

Earlier this year, the Council of Canadians sent 180 provincial and national labour unions an appeal advancing the case that universal pharmacare will lower Canadian labour costs, remove the need to negotiate drug benefits during collective bargaining, and improve the health of workers by ensuring people can get the medications they need.

As you know, the Council of Canadians’ goal was to produce a groundbreaking new report that would outline the savings a universal pharmacare program would bring for employers and businesses, along with an activist toolkit that would give people the tools they need to lobby MPs and present information to employers in support of pharmacare. Employers, whose companies would gain a significant competitive advantage with pharmacare, could persuasively lobby the federal government to implement a universal publicly-funded pharmacare program.

Our follow-up report, A Prescription for Better Medicine: How universal pharmacare would give Canada an economic advantage, a handimation video, and a grassroots lobbying toolkit for Council of Canadians chapters, union locals and other activists are ready and available online (https://canadians.org/pharmacare).

We hope you will consider downloading or linking to these tools and sending them to your members, and encouraging them to speak to their MP or employer about the benefits of universal pharmacare.

A copy of the original report, A Prescription for Better Medicine: Why Canadians need a national pharmacare program (https://canadians.org/sites/default/files/publications/report-pharmacare…) was mailed to all 338 current MPs along with a questionnaire to assess their position on the issue. Twenty-seven MPs responded, with three providing their specific reasoning on the issue.

More recently, printed copies of the toolkit were available at Canadian Labour Congress convention in Toronto to encourage our brothers and sisters to check out the toolkit and reports online and share it with their members.

A national day of action was planned for May 27 when people across the country spoke to their MPs about pharmacare. At least 15 Council of Canadians chapters will be meeting with their MP to promote pharmacare. Their main messages will be:

? We would save money. Pharmacare would save Canadians approximately $14 billion a year by reducing administration costs and giving us stronger buying power to negotiate better prices for medications.

? Everyone would be covered. Right now 10 per cent of Canadians – approximately 3.5 million people – don’t have even basic drug coverage.

? Companies would pay less. Data shows that Canadian companies spend about $200 million per week on prescription drug costs incurred by employer drug plans.

We also commissioned a poll that shows 91% of Liberal voters want the Liberals to implement pharmacare. This poll will be a useful tool in lobbying meetings.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Jane Philpott has announced there will be public consultations on proposed regulatory changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. Online consultations run until June 28. Minister Philpott hopes the new regulations will be in place no later than the end of 2018.

Building on this turn of events, the Council of Canadians’ Pharmacare Toolkit can have a lasting impact through 2017 and beyond with promotion by union members.

We would welcome an invitation to submit articles about this issue in your union’s newsletter. The more ways we can find to share the facts supporting the benefits of a universal pharmacare program, the closer we will get to seeing it become a reality, as envisioned by Tommy Douglas.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

For many months Canadians have watched the political climate across the border, seen the polarization of the American people and gaped in shock as events unfolded. While our attention was diverted, we somehow failed to perceive the deepening personal and political divisions of people in Canada. If not outright apathetic, we were willfully or ignorantly blind to the rise of fear and of hate in our country, perhaps because we thought we were immune.

The attack on the mosque in Quebec City that left 6 racialized, Muslim men dead was a shocking event that left many wondering how this could happen? How in Canada, a country known for its peace and politeness, could there be a killing of 6 innocent people in a place of worship, of refuge and sanctuary? This crime of hate against racialized, Muslim Canadians, because they were racialized and Muslim, seemed unimaginable.

We were forced from our complacency by the violent truth of these acts of hate. Much of the country responded with support. There appeared to be a common understanding that when we shut our eyes and our hearts to the injustices perpetrated against others racism and discrimination flourish. We took to the streets, we wrapped our arms and hearts around places of worship, we demanded a world where fear and hate, bigotry and racism are not allowed to impoverish the world and divide humanity against itself.

Our words and our actions following the attacks at the mosque are not enough. Racial discrimination and hate-motivated actions and crimes remain prevalent in Canada and around the world. Social media continues to abound with anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, anti-refugee rhetoric. Our would-be political leaders attend public forums and speak of “Canadian values” while calling for “screening” of immigrants and refugees, ignoring the fact that everyone who steps foot in Canada is screened. They construct an “us” against “them” story that is taking root, causing people to believe they are defending something not being attacked.

On March 21, 2017, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we call for a national conversation about racism and the rise of hate. We call on trade unionists, social justice activists and advocates, political parties, non-governmental actors and grass roots organizations to engage with one another, to create a forum where we can begin the process of reweaving the social fabric that binds us all together.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
International Women’s Day – March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day – March 8, 2017

On March 8, Unifor marks International Women’s Day with the theme Persistence with solidarity toward equality. The past year has brought intense attacks on equality, in Canada and worldwide. In response, we have risen to these challenges and have mobilized across communities. The strength of the Women’s Marches demonstrates our commitment to moving forward with a diverse, intersectional movement.

Over the past year, Unifor has been actively working to close the gender wage gap, increase access to good jobs including in the skilled trades, and end harassment at work. The government has a role to play in advancing women’s equality. We’ve been active on two fronts in particular. Unifor calls on the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to create a national child care program because affordable, quality, public child care is integral to women’s economic empowerment and financial security. Unifor is also active in the effort to legislate paid domestic violence leave to aid women who are transitioning to new lives, free of abuse. The union has already bargained paid leave provisions and the Women’s Advocate program into many of our collective agreements. Now it is time to make these supports into law. No woman should have to choose between economic security and her personal safety.

Join Unifor to bring women’s issues to the government. Call on the federal government for concrete action.

Add your name and send a message to the federal government. Sign today to ask your Member of Parliament (MP) to enact a national child care program and paid domestic leave though the Canada Labour Code (http://www.unifor.org/en/member-services/equality/women/international-wo…)

As we celebrate at International Women’s Day events across the country let us take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to remove all obstacles to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

The struggle for equality will take persistence.