Rally on Parliament Hill for public health care

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Unifor President Lana Payne stands with health care activists in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Unifor members and leadership joined hundreds on Parliament Hill to rally in support of public health care on February 13, 2024.

"Unifor members believe in the fundamental right to accessible, quality health care for all, and we’re here to tell the federal government that if provinces are not going to protect public health care, Ottawa must," said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. "Public funding in health care, including dental and pharmacare, is essential and desperately needed across Canada - but it needs to come with strings attached so that health care workers are recognized with fair wages and safe workloads."

The event, organized by the Canadian Health Coalition and supported by various labour unions, health care professionals and community organizations, called attention to the pressing need for increased funding and support for public health care services across the country.

“Our health care members are on the frontlines witnessing the impact of underfunding every day,” said Kari Jefford, President of Local 229 and National Executive Board Member representing health care workers. “We rallied on Parliament Hill to demand action because we believe that no one should have to choose between their health and their financial well-being. It’s time the federal government steps up to ensure that public health care does not become a relic of the past, but a sustainable promise for the future.”

The rally featured heartfelt stories from individuals across the country, who shared their experiences with the health care system and called for urgent reforms to address the long-standing issues of underfunding, staffing shortages, and inequitable access to services. Advocates also highlighted the importance of addressing the social determinants of health, including housing, employment, and environmental factors, which significantly impact Canadians' well-being.

“In Nova Scotia, we're seeing firsthand how shortages in staff and resources are stretching our public health system to its limits,” said Jennifer Benoit, President of Local 2107. “Today's rally isn't just about voicing our concerns; it's about advocating for a public health care system that values its workers as much as its patients. We're calling on the government to safeguard our health care with proper funding and support, ensuring access for all, regardless of where they live.”

As chants and calls for action echoed off the parliamentary buildings, the message was clear: the time for meaningful health care reform is now. The Canadian Health Coalition presented a list of demands, including increased federal funding for health care, the implementation of a national pharmacare program, and measures to support health care workers and ensure the sustainability of the system.

Participants left Parliament Hill energized, ready to continue the fight for a health care system that truly serves the needs of every Canadian.

For photos from the rally click here