Unifor’s national health care conference brought together the largest group of health care workers ever, as more than 203 participants from 19 local unions in Ontario and Nova Scotia gathered at the union’s education centre in Port Elgin from June 9-11.
The conference explored the need to advocate for strengthening universal public health care, creating a national pharmacare program, ending cuts to hospitals and long-term care, as well as establishing a minimum amount of hours of hands on care.
Delegates also had the opportunity to root these issues in their own work experience during workshops on mental health, workplace stress and bullying; a new vision for long-term care; and violence in the workplace. Secretary-Treasurer Bob Orr, Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne Assistant to the President Katha Fortier, and Health Care Director Andy Savela, in addition to a number of thought-provoking guest speakers, spoke to members over the two days.
“Unions know that losing medicare would be devastating for working people,” said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, who spoke extensively about the threat to public health care, posed by privatization and the government’s failure to uphold the Canada Health Act.
Presentations by the Canadian Health Coalition’s and Blood Watch’s emphasized the need for a universal, publicly-funded pharmacare program and why we must ensure that blood collection services stay public.
With the departure of long-time health care National Executive Board member Nancy McMurphy, Local 302, conference delegates also nominated Shauna Wilcox, Local 4600 in Cape Breton, on behalf of the Health Care Council.
As the conference closed Health Care Director Savela encouraged local union leaders to get involved and ramp up the union’s fightback to defend health care for all. For more information and updates visit: unifor.org/healthcare.