On January 16th Premier Christy Clark hosted premiers from across the country to discuss health care sustainability and the 2014 Health Accord. As part of “Check Up,” a collaborative project that engages youth on health care issues, Check Your Head and BC Health Coalition organized a youth delegation of more than 15 amazing people from the Mainland and the South Island with the aim of bringing a message to the premiers from young people about the future of our health care system.
Our journey began bright and early with the brisk January sunrise. As the untouched snow slowly whispered away with the rise of the sun and the footprints of morning joggers, our delegation marched towards the premiers’ meeting venue, red umbrellas in hand to symbolize health care covering everyone when they need it. We brought red umbrellas for the premiers with a message attached: ‘It is important that young people have input in determining how we care for each other now and into the future. We want a strong health accord that reflects our shared values of equality and access for everything.’
The event that followed the Youth Delegation’s visual message was a press conferenec with four speakers from various public health care advocacy organizations: Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Dr. Vanessa Brcic (Canadian Doctors for Medicare), Val Avery (National Union of Public and General Employees), and our very own Vince Terstappen from Check Your Head.
“Young people have a stake in the future of our health care system,” said delegation member Vince Terstappen. “Discussions in preparation for the 2014 health accord are excellent opportunities for all of the provinces to work together to listen and respond to the input of young people.”
After the press conference the youth delegation participated in Check Your Head’s health care workshop. In this session we had invigorating discussions on our health care system and the dynamic issues that affect us on a personal level. My only wish is that the people with the power to impact the outcome of the accord were participating, they would have gained a lot from the ideas and experiences of the young health care professionals and students in the workshop.
After this was a brief lunch meeting at the awesome Rebar restaurant downtown where the Check Your Head Staff, as well as myself and another volunteer with the CYH Youth and Gender Media Project, sat with two inspiring ladies from the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre’s Project Respect to discuss a new workshop from CYH on gender representations. It was great to have the opportunity to connect with a community partner for another project during this trip, making use of every moment available and jumping into something closer to my expertise.
The last event I participated in before having to head back to Mainland was a round table discussion on the health accord with different organizations and individuals connected to Canada’s health system. The energy and passion in the room was palpable and there was a true sense of concern and care for the future of our health care system and the longing to make it sustainable. From this roundtable I gained an in-depth understanding of what Canada stands to lose if the 2014 Health Accord is negotiated based on ideology instead of evidence.
As the youth delegation said our goodbyes and departed back to our every-day lives, the impact of this journey will echo throughout each of our lives in one way or another. While our efforts to impact change in the health accord may seem small in comparison to the battle field of political heavy weights competing to have their interests pushed forward, it is comforting to know that there are people out there, people of all ages and backgrounds, that share a common desire: A health care system that ensures that when you need care, you’re covered; no matter where you live, how much money you have, or who you are.