Q – If health care is a right, then how do you define it? Does Canada have universal health care? And for whom?

Q – If health care is a right, then how do you define it? Does Canada have universal health care? And for whom?

Most people think that Canada has a universal health care system. We don’t. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be refused care if you go into the hospital with chest pains or stroke symptoms. But you might be told it’s not physical. Or that you should lose weight. You might be asked how much you drink or what drugs you use. And that’s after waiting up to 20 hrs in emergency.

Entire care regimes are left out of insurance systems. Dental, aural, eye, mental health, physiotherapy…

Chronic pain patients are often left in the dust because practitioners get frustrated with people who won’t recover. And if an explanation isn’t found quickly, you’re more likely to be treated as an attention or drug seeker.

Ad that’s at the best of times.

Some of the Conservative premiers in Canada seem to be attacking our system in an effort to privatize it. They’re using the pandemic as an excuse to let it fall apart rather than work to bring it up to date to meet the growing and changing needs of the people. Their efforts have meant that doctors and nurses are burning out and leaving the field, services and tests are being de-listed from insurance plans, and the definition of the people and their needs that they are willing to serve are narrowing. Esp in areas like fertility care, reproductive rights and gender identity. Despite the fact that the federal laws are becoming more inclusive. Despite the fact that the global laws are becoming more inclusive.

Which is bad enough in itself, but they have the citizens doing the dirty work for them. Questions like ‘what is a woman’ and ‘who belongs here’ are being queried. So race, class, gender, ableism, ageism, culture/religious rites and meanings are being cast into it to tear apart the citizenry in an effort to break apart the health care questions further.

How do we stop their division so we can save the health care system? …. I wish I knew. But I do know we’re looked to as one of the best systems in the world, as a model for others. And it’s coming apart at the seams.

……. resources

Alma Ata – 1978
Emerging from the conference was the consensus that health was a human right based on the principles of equity and community participation. Alma Ata broadened the perception of health beyond doctors and hospitals to social determinants and social justice.


WHO – founding premise
The right to health also means that everyone should be entitled to control their own health and body, including having access to sexual and reproductive information and services, free from violence and discrimination.

Everyone has the right to privacy and to be treated with respect and dignity. Nobody should be subjected to medical experimentation, forced medical examination, or given treatment without informed consent.

That’s why WHO promotes the idea of people-centred care; it is the embodiment of human rights in the practice of care.

When people are marginalized or face stigma or discrimination, their physical and mental health suffers. Discrimination in health care is unacceptable and is a major barrier to development.


The right to health has a number of essential elements:

  • Availability
  • Accessibility
  • Acceptability
  • Quality
  • Participation
  • Accountability
    The right to health also contains certain freedoms and entitlements
  • Freedoms
  • Entitlements

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