The COVID-19 crisis has underscored why the good health of each person in Canada is a collective benefit and a collective responsibility. We are all interconnected: one person’s health affects the health of others.
More than ever, the current crisis demonstrates why preventive healthcare plans are best made in ordinary times, rather than in the middle of a crisis with all the additional pressures it brings. Health promotion and disease prevention in times of stability are the best preparation for times of crisis or outbreak.
For this reason, the Green Party of Canada has consistently said that everyone in Canada should have access to the health care that they need, regardless of income and no matter where they live in the country. The right to health care is a human right which doesn’t begin or end with a doctor’s visit. It also includes mental health, prescriptions and dental care.
The current crisis has demonstrated that having universal access to healthcare is key to any effective pandemic response. Yet, one in three Canadians is forced to pay for their prescription medication. For the sake of their own health, as well as that of their neighbours, every Canadian should have access to the drugs that have been prescribed to them by their doctors.
The Green Party of Canada was the first to call for Universal Pharmacare because it is the best way to accomplish both lifesaving and cost-cutting goals. We want to see the Canada Health Act expanded to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of a hospital. Modeled on Medicare, single-payer Pharmacare would include a bulk drug purchasing agency and reduce drug patent protection periods.
Heightened fear and anxiety are common consequences of the spread of infectious disease, and many Canadians are suffering during the COVID-19 outbreak. Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Elevated stress about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
The current crisis makes clear that it is time for mental health to take its rightful place alongside other forms of health, and to be funded accordingly.
The Green Party of Canada has called for an expansion of mental health services and a reorientation of the Health Canada mandate towards mental health. We want Canada to establish a National Mental Health Strategy to address increased anxieties regarding inequality and affordability, the growing precariousness of work and housing, social isolation, and other harms and risks. Many of these have risen during the COVID-19 crisis.
Health Care Innovation
We are faced with constantly evolving health challenges. Medial officers have warned that we must prepare for the fact that other pandemics will emerge in the future. The World Health Organization has also said that the climate emergency threatens our health, and climate-related illnesses are on the rise. The Green Party seeks to harness the potential of technology to provide better and more efficient care. Many adaptations to medical practices initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic are certain to remain in place; for instance, the expansion of remote health care, has rapidly expanded in past weeks. Such innovations will be an important part of the response to future crisis and to ensuring better, permanent health care access by various vulnerable groups.