In the early 1960’s, a CCF government (the CCF was the precursor to the NDP) in Saskatchewan successfully lit the path towards what we now know nationally as Medicare, a transformative event in Canadian history. This was done in the face of fierce and often bitter resistance from political opponents, from the medical community and from private insurance companies. Canadians would do well to recall this history, and how elements of it might inform the current debate about the urgent need for a universal single-payer (i.e. public) Pharmacare program, a long overdue supplement to the existing health care system that would realize the dreams of many of Medicare’s founders.
One of the by-products of the global COVID 19 pandemic is that all of a sudden people are paying attention to where things are actually manufactured. On Monday morning April 13, the lead headline on the CBC website was “Canada building its own PPE supply chain…in China”. As the Toronto Star noted in its April 7, Editorial – “Canada Needs a New Industrial Policy”, when Canada is left scrambling for medical equipment, relying on goods that are manufactured halfway around the world “doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore”.
In a medical sense, COVID-19, as highly contagious as it is, can be thought of as the great leveller. No one has immunity, and we face the health risk of this virus with a sense of our common humanity.