Election 2021: Healthcare becoming a top issue among voters
John Gaida thought he avoided the struggle.
In September 2019, the 36-year-old Waterloo man spoke through tears of gratitude to a packed room filled with people willing to help him with his kidney disease.
After the event, nine potential donors were found. At the time, Gaida was hopeful he was going to undergo a kidney transplant in the spring of 2020.
But approval delays before and during the COVID-19 pandemic forced Gaida to wait and start dialysis last fall.
“I was a great example of somebody who could have gotten a transplant right away, had everything seemed to work in my favour,” said Gaida. “And yet still here we are a year and a half later.”
Gaida’s experience and concerns about Canada’s health care system are shared nationally despite it being a provincial responsibility.
“The issues people are asked to think about this September will be (in Ontario) the issues that they will be thinking about next June in the provincial elections,” said retired University of Waterloo political science professor Peter Woolstencroft.
“Now we see that our hospital system is not really capable of handling emergencies,” Woolstencdroft continued. “Let alone ordinary health services.”
The federal political parties are offering different promises relating to healthcare should they be elected.
The Liberal party is promising Canadians national pharmacare, $4.5 billion over five years for mental health services and $150 million for mental health projects to help those most impacted by COVID-19.
The Conservatives say they will negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry to reduce drug prices, work on a new health agreement with provinces to boost the Canadian Health Transfer and add more mental health funding that includes a national suicide prevention line.
The NDP party says they will implement national pharmacare, end for-profit long-term care, provide mental health supports for the uninsured and address the opioid crisis.
The Green party will also put in a national pharmacare plan, invest in mental health services, and plans to have stronger national oversight of long-term care homes with federal standards.
“What I’m looking for is somebody who has the ability … to listen and do something about it,” said Gaida. “Rather than giving me empty promises that may or may not come to fruition.”
Gaida feels next week will be momentous for him.
Not only is he eager to see which Federal party will win, but Gaida also has his kidney transplant scheduled two days after he casts his ballot.