I recently had the privilege of hearing Senator Bernie Sanders speak to a very engaged Toronto audience. Senator Sanders was in Toronto to get a first-hand look at what our universal healthcare system looks like. He toured three Toronto hospitals and had numerous conversations with healthcare providers and patients about the benefits of our publicly funded system. He also heard real-life examples that he can use to debunk some of the myths that are circulated in the US by those who oppose single payer, government funded, universal access healthcare. One such myth is the notion that the Canadian health care system does not support innovation despite many examples of groundbreaking work being done right here, just like the recent in-utero surgery done to prevent spina bifida in a newborn.

Bernie considers the fight for universal healthcare in the US as a human rights movement, much like those launched decades ago for civil rights for Afro-Americans, the gay rights movement, or the fight for women’s rights. Sadly, none of these is quite over yet… but you get the idea.

When asked by a student in the audience what Canadians can do to support the healthcare rights movement, Senator Sanders replied that we need to “get loud and blow our horns about what you have here in Canada… talk about what has been accomplished here”. By doing so we can bust some of those myths heard when talking to American family members, friends or colleagues. Societal change takes a groundswell – just ask some of those high-flying Hollywood celebrities and power brokers who have been taking advantage of more vulnerable people for years.

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