Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mrs. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau Shared a Story with Me, So I Shared a Story with Her

Dear Mrs. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau–

You sent me an email and shared with me a story about helping a new Canadian mother through a difficult birth – but how she was happy that her baby was going to be a Canadian. That you loved this story because it reminds you to “cherish your identity as a Canadian,” and “how lucky we are to live in a beautiful country, and share it with such generous and caring people.”

Can I share a story with you?

Let me share with you the story I’ve heard time and time again about new mothers giving birth to Canadians in Canada and being left with substantial medical bills. Let me share with you the story about new mothers giving birth at home or in hotel rooms out of fear of the substantial medical bills a hospital birth will leave them with. Let me share with you the story of those mothers enduring substantial pain because they fear the cost of an epidural. Let me share with you the story of mothers foregoing prenatal care because of its cost. Let me share with you the story about how we neglect the prenatal and birthing care needs of those women. Let me share with you the story of how these women and their infants face a 7 fold increase in infant and maternal complications, including death.

Who are these women who are uninsured? These women are the wives and partners of Canadians who are waiting for their permanent residency to be approved so that they can be eligible for Canadian health insurance. These women are refugees. These women are temporary workers and visitors to Canada whose visas have expired. Some of these women are future Canadians. These women are mothers to Canadians – Canadian babies who are denied free access to care they need while in utero and during birth because their Canadian parent happens to be their father instead of their mother or because their mother is newly arrived in our country. These are Canadians whose parents face substantial medical bills due to their births, bills that might have deep impact on their family’s ability to provide during their early years.

I hate this story, this story that I’ve heard time and time again. I hate that it reminds me of how we currently deny access to the best possible beginning to the most vulnerable Canadians – newborn babies. I hate that it demonstrates a lack of compassion, a lack of caring and a lack of generosity. Your email asked me for a donation to the Liberal Party – in support of its bid to become the next governing party.

I want to see a government elected that shares progressive values. I want to see a government that cares for the most vulnerable citizens – newborn babies. I want to live in a county where all mothers can put the best interests of their children first without fearing the financial repercussions of accessing appropriate medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Will the Liberal Party of Canada do that? Will they commit to providing free access to medical care for all pregnant and birthing mothers in Canada, even those who are uninsured? Will they step up to the plate and demonstrate leadership, caring and compassion on this issue?

Before I consider donating, I’d like to know the Liberal Party of Canada’s position on this issue and what steps it plans on taking should it be elected to ensure the health and well-being of all new born Canadians and their mothers.


Janice Williams

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