Can we focus on saving lives now?

InSite works.

Despite Conservative tough dumb-on-crime rhetoric, allowing people a clean and safe place to use the drugs they would anyway grants them respect, dignity, and a way out of dangerous cycles. It’s about acting grown-up about our public health issues and taking responsibility for the issue.

Now, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously agrees

The appeal and the cross?appeal are dismissed.  The Minister of Health is ordered to grant an exemption to Insite under s. 56 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act forthwith.

In order to make use of the lifesaving and health?protecting services offered at Insite, clients must be allowed to be in possession of drugs on the premises.  Prohibiting possession at large engages drug users’ liberty interests; prohibiting possession at Insite engages their rights to life and to security of the person.

It’s not clear yet if Harper and his TheoCons will continue to fight this, but hopefully he’s smart enough to know when he’s lost and walk away.

This is an important ruling and hopefully now InSite and its supporters can continue their life-saving work, and look to replicate their success.

Joyce Murray shills for Big Natura

I’m sorry Joyce Murray, you just lost any chance to get my vote to stop the Cons from taking Vancouver-Quadra.

Here’s her latest statement in the House of Commons, dissected:

Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, each year during the first week in May, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors leads a national awareness week in support of naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic physicians are primary health care professionals with a minimum of seven years post-secondary education.

Nope. Only BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan actually license naturopathic doctors, everywhere else in Canada they can just go by ND with whatever training they feel like. It’s also worth noting that any number of years studying pseudo-scientific ideas does not make it any more legitimate. You can go to clown college, astrology school, or take UFO classes, but none of those qualify you to effectively treat diseases.

They practise naturopathic medicine, which is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of the disease.

From the first line in Wikipedia: “Medicine is the art and science of healing. It encompasses a range of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.” The unique thing about naturopathy is that it blends real, evidence-based medicine, with pseudo-scientific ideas that have been debunked repeatedly. There is no reason to have a separate section of medicine where bogus treatments are included, except to rip people off. Apparently Ms. Murray supports a two-tier health system, only rather than at least getting cured for their money, people are being scammed by under-regulated snake-oil salesmen.

Each year during Naturopathic Medicine Week, naturopathic doctors hang up their lab coats and teach communities across Canada about naturopathic medicine, how naturopathic doctors can be valuable additions to health care teams and how they work with patients to identify the most effective solutions to individual health needs.

My biggest issue here is that even real doctors and scientists rarely wear lab-coats. This just paints a false picture that NDs are equivalent to real doctors. They’re not. If they were, they would be MDs and have completed real medical school.

Naturopathic Medicine Week is an excellent opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about achieving optimum health and I encourage Canadians to visit local naturopathic physicians in their communities.

I encourage you to stop shilling for Big Natura and stand up for evidence-based medicine. Our health care system is fragile enough as it is from years of Liberal and Conservative incremental cuts, it doesn’t need a woo-infestation to further discredit it.

For more debunking of Naturopathic Medicine Week, see the blog Skeptic North.

Successful health care rally

The Friends of Medicare held a huge rally today at the Legislature with “nearly a thousand people” in attendance (source: iNews 880).

The rally featured NDP leader Brian Mason and Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald.

While I doubt Stelmach and Liepert are going to listen, the first 14,000 signatures of the Friends of Medicare petition to stop the attack on Medicare were presented to Mason and MacDonald to present in the legislature.

NDP Health Care Town Hall

As part of the NDPs “Task Force on the Middle Class and the Recession,” I attended the Health Care Town Hall, hosted by Linda Duncan and featuring Winnipeg North NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Friends of Medicare Executive Director David Eggen. In the audience was Ray Martin (former Alberta NDP leader and MLA, and candidate for Edmonton-East) and Western Arctic NDP MP Dennis Bevington. That’s right, three NDP MPs under one roof in Alberta, hell hath frozen over.

The event was held at the Gold Bar Community Hall, deep in the blue end of this newly orange’d riding, and attracted a crowd of about 150 people, and unfortunately no mainstream media accepted the invitation to come.

Which is really sad, because on a day like today, when the Health Minister announces to the media that they plan to delist everything that is not required by the Canada Health Act, and the Legislature was a storm with questions about the delisting of gender reassignment surgeries, you would think health care would be a prime-time item. Perhaps the media really does give the NDP a pass.

Nevertheless, I, as a partisan blogger, can fill the role of biased media coverage for the evening.

The speakers outlined how Alberta currently has 89 private clinics where patients pay to skip the queue and get treated faster. These clinics charge on the range of $3,000 per year and also cost the public system $1 million per doctor per year. These clinics are in direct violation of the Canada Health Act, however, the current government doesn’t believe in intervening to prevent such madness and lets it slide.

As an example, Eggen reminded the crowd that Allan Rock, then health minister for Jean Chretien, withheld transfer payments to Alberta until Ralph Klein stopped breaking the Act, and upheld public health care in the province.

Wasylycia-Leis mentioned that the federal Conservatives tabled their report on the state of health care late on a Friday afternoon (when the House is notoriously empty) and washed over bits that mentioned these types of violations (which are also occurring in BC).

The speakers were also united in calling for a public pharamacare program that could lower drug costs for Albertans (and Canadians) by buying in bulk, and removing those who seek to make a profit off of suffering. This talk even sparked the attention of one senior who regretted voting Conservative in the past (I think provincial) election. He also had some very harsh words about the “arrogant” health minister.

Eggen made a few other claims about a private health care system that he believes the Conservatives are aiming for (although, after some arguments with @GriffMLA tonight, I’m reminded that this government never has, and likely never will, have a plan, and is just likely making it up as they go along). I’ll take his word on this, but This includes that private insurance would cost $11-15K per year, and 1 in 10 would have no insurance. Also that the government’s spending on health care with respect to GDP has dropped 46% in the past 17 years.

Finally, Eggen plugged an upcoming rally for 9 May at the Legislature at 1:00PM, tentatively titled the “Mother of all rallies” (in honour of Mother’s Day) and a petition he was circulating.

So that’s about all for now. Tomorrow at noon I’ll try to live-blog the Pay Equity Forum at Enterprise Square with Linda and Judy, so watch for that at noon.