NDP celebrates the 50th anniversary of Medicare
The NDP celebrated the 50th anniversary of Medicare in Saskatchewan at their convention this weekend.
It’s something NDP Health Critic Cam Broten said is still integral to their party’s principles.
“Medicare is fundamentally about values the New Democrats believe in,” he said.
“It’s about achieving more by collective action by working together, and it’s about building a more compassionate and more fair society.”
The guest speaker for the night was former premier Roy Romanow. He gave his account on the history of Medicare, and what is needed to advance the program.
Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt a program of universal health care.
Romanow described the journey to that point as a hard fought battle, which began with members of the CCF deciding health care needed to change.
“Often those who could not afford healthcare did not receive it, and even some who could sometimes deferred much needed treatment to save resources for some future occasion,” Romanow said.
Originally many doctors and members of the public were opposed to the ideas of Medicare. Doctors withdrew their services and would only do emergency care at certain hospitals under certain conditions. They were supported by Keep our Doctors Committees (KOD).
Doctors were recruited from out of country, and the first community clinics were established.
Romanow said accessible healthcare is now a value Canadians share.
“Canadians, I argue, view Medicare as a moral enterprise, and not a business venture,” he told the room. “It is a right of citizenship, and not a privilege of status or wealth.”
Broten said the speech was important as a way of looking back at history, but it didn’t end there.
“It was about looking forward as well, about the vision, the work that still needs to be complete, that needs to be done.”