Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 3, 2002
Churches urge Romanow to accept covenant model
All should share benefits of health, burdens of illness
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Representatives of the Canadian Council of Churches were buoyed by the reception given them by the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada at a hearing where they pitched the idea of a health care covenant.
The one-man commission headed by former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow "was very interested in what we had to say and especially the health care covenant idea," Janet Somerville, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, said after the presentation May 28.
Romanow urged the council "to get the idea into the public discussion as one way of crystallizing the ethical and values side of the debate," said Somerville.
The council developed the covenant as its contribution to the ethical debate on the future of Canada's health care system.
It challenges governments to pledge to "uphold a health care system through which all people in Canada share the benefits of health and the burdens of illness with particular compassion for the weak, caring for the vulnerable, solidarity with our neigh-bours, and a commitment to social justice for all."
Somerville and the Rev. David Pfrimmer of the CCC's Commission on Justice and Peace presented the churches' submission.
The council said the discussion of the future of health care in Canada "is fundamentally about what form of justice will prevail as we wrestle with who we are, what we owe each other as citizens and neighbours and what legacy we will leave for future generations of people in Canada."
Many Canadian churches believe private, for-profit health care providers and lack of support from the federal government are threatening Canada's medicare system.
They held a "roundtable" on Parliament Hill in February to promote a health care system based on social justice and to organize numerous workshops across Canada to help people take part in the current national debate on health care.
"Working to promote health and well-being is not only about curing symptoms," said the Church council in its presentation to the commission. "It also is about confronting the causes of suffering and injustice in our society. A basic moral test of any society is how the weak and poor in its midst are treated."
Pfrimmer said the churches agreed at the roundtable - and were saying it again through the submission to the Romanow commission - that "this debate is about what form of justice will prevail in this country."
He said the ecumenical group wanted to offer something "very concrete" to the commission by proposing the idea of a health care covenant.
Pfrimmer and Somerville also met on Parliament Hill with the health critics of each party following the presentation, "as a way of raising the visibility of some of these issues," he said.