The Ecumenical Health Care Network of the Canadian Council of Churches invites every congregation and community across the country to join in a time of celebration and renewal of Canada’s commitment to ensuring the preservation and strengthening of its universal public health care system, better known as medicare. To this end, we have named the week of November 18th

“Celebrate Medicare Week.”

In the past, Canada’s churches have played an invaluable role in defending access to care based on need not on ability to pay, and as a living statement of how we care for one another in Canadian society. In the words of a former vice-president of the Canadian Council of Churches, Karen MacKay-Llewellyn, “Defending public health care in a system that promises accessibility to all Canadians at the same level of quality, is a matter at the heart of our Christian confession, and this must rest at the heart of our public witness.”

Here are several suggestionsas to how this occasion might be observed:

  • Include in worship services (on either Sunday November 18th or 25th) prayers and messages in support of medicare. (While not in the lectionary on either of those two Sundays, here are some scriptures which speak to our commitment to address the “common good” through universal public health care: 1 Corinthians 12: 26; Isaiah 65: 17-25; Matthew 25: 31-46; Luke 3:11; Luke 7: 1-10; Luke 10: 25-37; Luke 13: 10-17.)
  • Sponsor a local showing of Michael Moore’s acclaimed movie “Sicko”, which explores the myths and harsh realities of the largely privatized American health care and insurance system,with provision for discussion following the showing.
    • In some cases, a local movie theatre operator might be willing to host such an evening. In other cases, where smaller audiences would be involved, the DVD version be rented for showing in a church facility. The DVD will be released on November 6, 2007. This could would be a great opportunity for churches, to hold such film/discussion evenings in church basements and halls, where, after all, so many fruitful discussions beganthat led to the establishment of medicare in this country.
  • Visit Local MP’s, MPP’s, MLA’s, and MNA’s in adelegation of concerned constituents (including local churchleaders/representatives) during that week (if possible, otherwise at another mutually-convenient time).
    • Raise questions such as: “Where do you as our elected representative stand on the issue of preserving and enhancing our treasured public health care system?”, and “Will you and your party insist on full Parliamentary hearings on the obligatory review of the 2004 Health Accord?” (in other words, demand public accountability as to where exactly did the Federal Government’s $41.2 billion dollar cash transfer to the provinces and territories go?)
  • Sponsor your own events and/or partner with other groups in the community. There are already many events being planned by local health coalitions in support of medicare as part ofNational Medicare Week. Among the people in local communities who might be contacted for further information are nurses andother concerned health care providers, as well as Council of Canadians members.
  • Local Days of Action involving creative public displays in support of public medicare.
  • Wherever possible, include First Nations communities, as they are all too often overlooked, and experiencing serious difficulties in receiving adequate health care.

For comments or further information contact: Faith, Worship and Ministry