OTTAWA – This Year’s UN World Health Day urges countries to eliminate health inequities and build a fairer, healthier world for all. The campaign highlights the World Health Organisation’s constitutional principle that: “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
“The pandemic has exposed glaring inequalities in health care standards both globally and here in Canada,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
“Early in the pandemic it became evident that low-income and racialized communities were experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 infections. The highly transmissible, airborne virus tore through communities where many live in multi-family accommodations and are employed in low-income and front-line jobs. People in these situations cannot self-isolate. Too many workers do not get paid sick leave, which would help them to stay in quarantine. It is not surprising that the virus continues to spread like wildfire in those communities.
“Now that vaccines are providing a glimmer of hope that we are nearing the end of the pandemic, we must ensure that those vulnerable communities receive their shots quickly. Canada must also honour its commitment to the global community by ensuring the success of the COVAX program.
“The pandemic has taught us many lessons, but high on the list is that ‘COVID somewhere is COVID everywhere’. Ensuring that low-income countries have adequate doses of the vaccines to immunize their populations is crucial to ending the pandemic. No one is safe until the whole world is immunized.”
Ms. Paul points out that the Green Party has long underscored the urgency of fortifying Canada's health-care system and supports expanding the single-payer Medicare model to include pharmacare for all and dental care for low-income Canadians.
“Canada prides itself on its healthcare system, but the pandemic has highlighted serious gaps. Now it is up to us to fix those and build back a better social safety net for all. Whether it’s sick pay, a national long-term care strategy, universal pharmacare, dental care, passing legislation to bring in a Guaranteed Livable Income or implementing the final recommendations of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), we can and must do better to eliminate existing inequities.”
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