Canadian legislators discuss on health co-operatives

On March 25th, the Health, Wellness and Social Services sector had the opportunity to make presentations to members of the All Party Caucus on Co-operatives of the Canadian federal government. The Caucus was formed last year in an encouraging move of co-operation among the 5 political parties represented at in the Parliament of Canada.

Jean-Pierre Girard gave an overview of his global research, generating interest in the work already being done by our sector internationally and the potential for Canadian co-operators to exchange experience, information and wisdom with colleagues globally. The scale of the sector around the world and the variety of embodiments of the co-op form of organization gained the attention of the audience.

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Michaël Béland of Co-ops and Mutuals Canada presented a review of health co-ops in the Province of Quebec with particular emphasis on the numbers served by and employed in the sector. He explained that Quebec has co-op health care, home care and paramedic services. Home Care currently provides services to approximately 100,000 people and employs 7,800 people. There are 52 health care co-ops in Quebec who serve 178,000 clients of which 60,000 are members. These co-ops have 130 doctors and 50 nurses. Vanessa Hammond described the range of work undertaken across the country including home care; employment support for people with barriers to employment; mobile health services; culturally and linguistically appropriate services (in over 25 languages); wellness and community outreach centres; medical services; physical and mental health services and education; supervision of internationally trained health professionals seeking Canadian certification. She described ways in which the sectors work could be enhanced through further

Vanessa Hammond described the range of work undertaken across the country including home care; employment support for people with barriers to employment; mobile health services; culturally and linguistically appropriate services (in over 25 languages); wellness and community outreach centres; medical services; physical and mental health services and education; supervision of internationally trained health professionals seeking Canadian certification. She described ways in which the sectors work could be enhanced through further co-operation at the federal and provincial levels and participated in subsequent meetings on several of these topics.

During April, she is presenting to co-op and health sector organizations, university classes, existing co-ops and community groups throughout Ireland, as well as in Scotland and England. All presentations demonstrated that our sector offers a practical approach to equipping individuals and communities to achieve and maintain optimal wellness, minimize suffering, and ensure that tax-payer funds are used with maximum efficiency to achieve equitable, efficacious services.

The subsequent discussion began with questions about how Ottawa can affect co-op health care policy in Canada when health care is a well-guarded provincial responsibility.

by Vanessa Hammond

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