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Issue #1437      25 November 2009

CP of Canada condemns govt inaction over flu outbreak

The Communist Party of Canada’s Central Executive Committee has condemned the Harper Conservative government’s inaction on the H1N1 (swine) flu outbreak, and called for vastly improved sick leave laws and for placing Big Pharma under public ownership. The CEC statement says:

The current swine flu outbreak reveals that after many years of underfunding by the federal and provincial governments, privatisation, contracting out of services, P3s [public private partnerships], and attacks on health care unions, Canada’s universal Medicare system has been stretched to the breaking point, lacking the capacity to handle any significant increase in the numbers of people needing medical care.

The Harper government has failed to deal effectively with this outbreak. Relying on one, private and unaccountable pharmaceutical corporation – GlaxoSmithKline – to produce the swine flu vaccine is a giant abdication of responsibility by the Harper Conservatives. It has proven to be a mistake that may cost the lives of many Canadians.

Big Pharma’s investments and production are based on profitability, not the health and well-being of the majority of Canadians. The swine flu vaccine shortfall is thus no accident, but a predictable outcome of the profit-driven interests of the industry.

This failure brings into sharp relief the need for public ownership of the entire pharmaceutical industry, especially the removal of the profit motive from the production of drugs and vaccines.

The government is failing to take other obvious steps that would reduce the spread of the swine flu and other infectious diseases.

Workers who are paid to stay home when they are sick cannot spread disease through the workplace. Vastly-improved sick leave provisions are needed for all workers, a measure that would help the large majority of people.

The giant increase in military spending is robbing the medical system of resources it could use to prevent and cure many diseases.

The profit motive has corrupted the priorities of researching and developing drugs to cure diseases and disorders that afflict the most oppressed sections of the working class, such as tuberculosis and diabetes.

The Communist Party demands that the federal government create a comprehensive plan for the protection of people from epidemics, including:

  • place the pharmaceutical industry under public ownership
  • require employers to provide ten paid sick days per year, provincially and federally, an amount that could be extended by government decree based on expert medical advice in designated areas
  • increase spending on research and development of drugs and vaccines to cure diseases that afflict – at epidemic levels – the most oppressed sections of workers, such as tuberculosis among Aboriginal peoples
  • improve housing and eradicate poverty to remove the underlying causes of many diseases
  • move agriculture and the food industry away from reliance on pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other substances whose long-term safety is not supported by reliable evidence.

Communist Party of Canada in action.

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