Network pushes for values-based health covenant

Published November 1, 2004

An ecumenical health care network is urging Canadian Christians to sign a petition urging the federal government’s National Health Council to begin the work of involving Canadians in the creation of a Health Covenant.

The Canadian Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Health Care Network, of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member, said establishing a Health Covenant would “set out guiding principles for reform of the health care system based on Canadians’ most deeply held values” such as “equity, collective responsibility, compassion and caring.” These values, the network said in a statement, “should take priority over a market-driven approach to health care.”

“There are a lot of competing visions out there,” said United Church of Canada’s Jim Marshall, who co-chairs the network. “We want to get some discussion going and let the discussion be focused on values from which future reforms should flow.”

The new $41-billion health care agreement transfers $18 billion from the federal government to the provinces for provincial health systems over the next six years, with automatic increases of six per cent a year until 2015, to keep up with rising costs of healthcare. The plan, however, left out many contentious issues especially around the area of whether the delivery of health care services should be privatized.

Rev. Maylanne Maybee, who represents the Anglican Church of Canada in the network, said that while the new health care deal recently signed by the first ministers has some good points “we still want to get a clear message from churches and from Canadians that we’re doing this according to a set of principles and not just according to market economics.”

The network plans to seek a dialogue between church leaders and new Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh to push its petition for a Health Covenant.

In early January, church leaders including Archbishop Michael Peers (then-primate of the Anglican Church of Canada) wrote to Prime Minister Paul Martin urging him to enact a Health Covenant which, they noted, the Romanow Commission had made its first recommendation. (The commission, headed by Roy J. Romanow, was tasked with reviewing the health care system in Canada and making recommendations for its future.)

The petition may be signed online or downloaded from the Canadian Council of Churches Web site at


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