why it matters
The COVID-19 crisis ripped the lid off a public health system that was strained and starved before the pandemic hit. We can address immediate emergency needs in a way that builds a truly universal system for the long term and that protects health care workers, their patients, and all of us.
Nobody left behind in our response to the crisis: that means PPEs for all frontline workers, testing and treatment for all.
Free and Accessible Healthcare for All
Universal healthcare in a pandemic must mean that everyone can access testing, treatment, vaccination, hospital stays and telehealth without barriers or fear, regardless of location or immigration status.
Support Healthcare Workers
Personal Protective Equipment must be readily available to those on the frontlines of care: ie all healthcare, janitorial, and personal support workers.
The government must guarantee an ample supply of PPEs by repurposing factories to manufacture them. Some bedding and apparel businesses have already done this: but it should not be left to the market.
Nobody Left Behind
Shelters and prisons lack space and health services, making homeless and incarcerated people doubly vulnerable. Overcrowding must not be a death sentence: we must expand care immediately.
Incarcerated people with existing health risks must be released into the care of family and community.
Declare harm reduction programmes life-saving services, expand their funding and outreach during the crisis and beyond.
End the Crisis-Within-A-Crisis for Sexual and Reproductive Health
The pandemic has strained access to contraception, pregnancy care, and abortions.
During the emergency and beyond, 100% of the cost for all contraception must be covered, and barriers to surgical and medical abortion must be removed – in every community, including remote and rural regions.
The epic spending power of the federal government must be directed at making the health care system whole after decades of cuts. Public health must be vastly stronger when the next pandemic hits.
Reverse Decades of Health Cuts: In A Pandemic, the System Needs Surplus Capacity
If the federal government can float the entire economy for months, it has the resources to restore public health care after decades of austerity.
That means crisis-level federal dollars to re-open facilities and beds, ensure equal access and care everywhere, and prepare for future pandemics.
It also means freeing Health Canada from corporate money, and increasing its power to keep healthcare public and develop vaccines.
Take Emergency Medical Supplies Out of the Market
The pandemic has shown us the deadly risk of market competition in essential medical supplies. The federal government must create a local, public medical equipment industry.
This will create good, unionized jobs and make sure we have the masks, ventilators, and other medical tools we need before the next crisis hits.
Universal Healthcare Must Include Drugs and Exclude Profit-making
We must have a full national public drug plan, with no hidden costs, for everyone.
For-profit health facilities – including blood collection – must be banned.
We must end health discrimination by urgently creating a network of community health centres in poor neighbourhoods for primary and preventative medicine.
Fix Long-term Care Now: Elders Deserve Dignity, Not Death Traps
The death toll is unacceptable: priority testing, PPE, and treatment for everyone living in, working in, or visiting long term care.
We need an immediate, significant, and permanent boost to staffing at long term care facilities.
Staff must be permanent, paid a lot more, and should work in a single location.
Home Care workers must be better paid and protected too.
No country should compete with others for essential medical supplies. Establish local manufacturing of medical equipment and drugs, under public ownership. And universal health care must cover eyes, dental, and mental health.
Save Our Elders! Universal Quality Elder Care Now.
Our society treats its wisest members as disposable. We have contracted-out elder care to slash spending. The result has been countless deaths in the pandemic, and we have learned that care workers are almost as vulnerable as the people they care for.
Long term and home care must be taken into public ownership, and the essential workers who provide it must be protected and well paid.
Universal Healthcare Must Cover Every Part of Every Body
It is long past time for our health care system to be truly universal and comprehensive. If we believe that access to doctors and hospitals without payment is a human right, then why are some parts of our bodies left out?
Eye care, dental, and mental health are fundamental to our well-being, and must be brought into the public health system.
We Need a Public Drug Company
Big Pharma invests in the most profitable drugs – not the most needed. As a result, life-saving medicines are either too expensive or simply not developed. This can include vaccines and testing.
We need a public option – a national pharmaceutical company to develop and provide drugs at low cost to all who need them.
Not One More Death from Drugs
The pandemic highlighted both the vulnerability of drug users in times of crisis, as well as the opportunities for safe drug distribution and support from health workers.
De-criminalization of all drug use is long overdue. It must be accompanied by easy access to health support and a safe, regulated supply for drug users to eliminate toxic additives and end overdose deaths.
The Leap is fighting for a People's Bailout. We're working with partners to advance urgent demands around Housing, Health Care, Work, and more.
Our demands were developed with inspiration from the leadership of the following groups, who are organizing in the face of COVID-19 to meet immediate needs and win long-term change within their own communities.
Find out more about their work here: