In Canada, health care is not universal.

Sometimes objective criticism of your government can only come from a foreign news outlet. Jessica Yee, a Chinese-Mohawk woman from Toronto, has published an article in The Guardian, a British newspaper, about Canada’s deep-rooted discrimination against indigenous communities.

Last week, on June 23, 2009—during a swine flu outbreak that disproportionately affects impoverished First Nations reserves—Health Canada delayed shipping hand sanitizers to First Nations reserves, because they contained alcohol. The Canadian government was concerned that the hand sanitizers would fuel alcohol addiction among reserve communities. (That’s racist.)

Jessica Yee, in Canada’s swine flu shame (The Guardian), writes:

Let’s review the facts. In the two and a half weeks that the government deliberated over whether to send hand sanitiser to reserve communities, this is what happened:

• More swine flu cases developed

• Chiefs, community leaders, nurses and community health representatives scrambled to deal with the escalating outbreak without help from a non-responsive government

• Families, children, elders and community members in these areas had no choice but to wait and see if they were going to get any type of diagnosis or care as conditions worsened

• The wider Canadian population heard occasional reports of the virus developing more in First Nations communities but not enough to warrant a national outpouring of support.

Access to necessary healthcare services is an ongoing problem for many indigenous people around the world, and Canada is no exception. But universal healthcare and non-insured health benefits (which First Nations and Inuit individuals receive in Canada) don’t mean anything if you live somewhere you still cannot get household plumbing, let alone a visit to the doctor.

Read the rest of Canada’s swine flu shame at The Guardian.

About these ads

12 Responses to “In Canada, health care is not universal.”

  1. Inanna Says:

    is this website racist against white people?

  2. JW Says:

    Not necessarily. The following excerpt is from a 1999 Statistics Canada publication: “In 1994–95, 59% of Aboriginal people in the territories were reported as regular or occasional
    drinkers, whereas non-Aboriginal residents of the
    territories were as likely as southern Canadians to be
    drinkers (78% and 75%, respectively). Other research,
    however, indicates that when they do consume
    alcohol, Aboriginal people are more likely than non-
    Aboriginal people to have five or more drinks at a
    sitting (see Topic 43).” (Statistical Report on the Health of Canadians, pg. 172).

    Although the publication is rather dated, if that were the only data available, then Health Canada had every right to be concerned. That being said, I don’t know if their response was “correct” given the situation, but labelling something “racist” because it is a potentially negative social and historical fact isn’t helpful, either. Calling something “racist” isn’t an argument — it’s a cop-out.

    Sometimes I think we’ve gone so far off the PC-ness edge that we don’t know our heads from our a**.

  3. Restructure! Says:

    Is there any evidence that someone who starts drinking and wants to drink more would likely reach for a bottle of hand sanitizer?

    Between alcohol addiction prevention and swine flu prevention, I think the latter eclipses the former in importance.

  4. JW Says:

    That’s a straw man argument and is completely facetious.

    Normally I don’t cite news articles because most are rubbish, but drug addiction is far more varied than just E, marijuana, crack, cocaine, etc. Below is a link to a CBC article on drug addiction on an aboriginal reserve: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/sheshatshiu.html

    While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I’ll admit alcohol addiction isn’t as “sexy” as swine flu, how many people die a year from alcohol-related addiction/abuse? A very conservative estimate from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health puts the figure at 909 deaths in 2008 as a direct result of only alcohol-related collisions (Reducing alcohol-related deaths on Canada’s road, pg. 1).

    How many people have died from swine flu? 10? 15? TOTAL?

    Now, which is more important? Are those alcohol-related deaths irrelevant because they aren’t regularly reported on CTV/GLOBAL/etc.? Whereas every death from swine flu is a front-page news story?

    Instead of regurgitating TV talking-points, do a little bit of critical thinking and research and you’ll discover that there is more to the issue than simply what is presented on the 6 o’clock news. If you really want to “reframe the discussion” about racism, my first suggestion is to turn off the TV.

  5. Restructure! Says:

    From April to now (about 3 months?), there have been 33 swine flu deaths in Canada. 8,648 people in Canada are infected. It hasn’t been a year yet, and it has been recently declared as a pandemic, so it may not be appropriate to compare annual deaths.

    However, you have a good point about the danger of “alcohol-related” deaths not being publicized.

    I do not own a TV. I get my my news via newspaper articles online.

    Anyway, your point about “alcohol-related” deaths is pertinent. However, what about this point?

    “I quickly pointed out that it’s just as easy to get a bottle of Lysol in these communities as anything else. So to think that people are going to be purchasing Purel to become intoxicated, that’s quite an outrageous leap to make.”

  6. Inanna Says:

    You can be preoccupied with the particular word I chose and ignore my point, even though the author of this blog calls herself an “antiracist”, or you can look at my meaning. this blog is essentially set up to talk about white evils and mistakes. your ‘example’ is misleading – the majority of content of this blog is not mere statistics, it is commentary on articles with claims like:

    “However, this is a false assumption based white people’s tendency to notice people’s race only when the people are not white. The typical white person notices race when passing through communities of colour, but she rarely thinks about race when she is surrounded by all white people. If the typical white person is in a group setting with mostly white people but one or two token non-white people, the typical white person perceives the group as “diverse”.”

    How is that much different from the kinds of generalizations and assumptions that whites make of other races?

    From the author itself, and I think it goes both ways:

    “A white person needs to listen to the personal experiences of people of colour when they are under discussion. On the other hand, it is dangerous, and usually racist, to generalize from one or a handful of people of colour and make a general claim. These two statements do not contradict each other.

    White people need to understand the basic structure behind first-order logic to avoid the errors of both (i) ignoring the voices of people of colour, and (ii) making generalizations about all people of colour based on the
    voices of some people of colour.”

    In the article quoted below, for example, it seems to ignore the fact that there is a far larger percentage of white people as a group then other races or groups. Thus it makes more sense to assume that someone being referred to is of the larger group unless it’s clarified. I am an African American, living in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. It is natural to assume that if someone from the neighborhood is being spoken about that they are Hispanic unless clarified otherwise. It is great to make whites more aware of other groups, but like you said, Sometimes I think we’ve gone so far off the PC-ness edge that we don’t know our heads from our a**.

    http://restructure.wordpress.com/2008/02/26/white-people-are-the-most-segregated/

    “It is ironic when some white individuals accuse racial minorities, especially Asians, of being especially segregated. This is not reality, but this myth is rarely challenged in discussions where the participants are mostly whites unconscious of their whiteness.”

    I believe the intention of this blog is a good one, but tends toward doing what it preaches against.

  7. jwbe Says:

    there was a German article, the pharma industry still benefits from economic growth.
    First the bird flu, now the swine flu…
    Worldwide there are more deaths caused by influenca and as an estimation, I think there are more people killed by cars.
    This is not to diminish any death, but I won’t support hysteria and most of all I will avoid supporting the pharma industry with all their “vaccinations”, which is in many cases a big selling lie

  8. Restructure! Says:

    Inanna,

    How is that much different from the kinds of generalizations and assumptions that whites make of other races?

    I would say that it is different because it is true? Typical white people do not see white people as white, but it is not true that typical black people are criminals, for example.

    In the article quoted below, for example, it seems to ignore the fact that there is a far larger percentage of white people as a group then other races or groups. Thus it makes more sense to assume that someone being referred to is of the larger group unless it’s clarified.

    What does that have to do with whites being the most segregated?

  9. Lxy Says:

    @ jwbe

    Yes. Good point. I think it is important to question the entire media hysteria over Swine flu, Bird flu, etc.

    While some may dismiss this as “conspiracy theory,” there may be other agendas other than health concerns driving the media promotion of these panics to begin with.

    Unreported or Underreported Real Pandemics, Not Fake Ones Like Avian and Swine Flu

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13481

    Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13408

    In general, I think it is always important to ask why the corporate media is promoting its latest “hot button issue”–whether that be swine flu, the bogus War on Terrorism, or Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  10. JW Says:

    I’ll respond to this quote directly:

    “I quickly pointed out that it’s just as easy to get a bottle of Lysol in these communities as anything else. So to think that people are going to be purchasing Purel to become intoxicated, that’s quite an outrageous leap to make.”

    I don’t see the “leap” as being particularly outrageous. Is it ignorant and misguided? Probably. But is it racist? I don’t think so.

    Drug abuse/addiction is an ongoing social and historical problem on aboriginal reserves; all Health Canada did was state their concern and start a process to examine the issue. Was it unreasonable for them to do so? Again, I don’t think so. Sure, common-sense should have prevailed but is it really racist (which is the crux of your argument that I disagree with)?

    To illustrate my point: during the SARS outbreak in Toronto, Health Canada issued stringent health procedures for passengers coming from Hong Kong/China. Was this an unreasonable measure? SARS was already in Canada and could potentially come from any country, but based on the number of cases coming from HK/China and point-of-origin extrapolations, they did what was, I think, reasonable.

    I don’t see how this is different. There was a trend (supported by data) that clearly showed a correlation/relationship between two variables. Where’s the racial intent?

  11. Restructure! Says:

    @jwbe

    I think it’s unnecessary to have a vaccination against swine flu, as hand washing and hand sanitizing are the best methods of prevention. However, not all vaccinations should be avoided, as some are quite necessary.

  12. Canada is multicultural, not anti-racist. « Restructure! Says:

    […] discrimination when we travel while black, go fishing while East Asian, protest while brown, or seek medical care while indigenous, the problem is not “cultural differences” to be solved with “cultural […]


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96 other followers

%d bloggers like this: