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Challenges to our health care

August 15, 2014 | Wendy McNiven

Comox Valley Echo

Two significant challenges to our collective health have been reported this week in the Echo. They are both indirectly but closely related to the way our governments are elected.

Sally Gellard's letter (Echo Tuesday August 12) reminds us, in the wake of the frightening tailings spill at Polley Mining, that governments are given (by us voters) the responsibility for ensuring the welfare of its people and its land. This priority for environmental and human health needs to supercede the "rights" of any industry that threaten that health.

Zoe Levitsky's letter (August 12) lifts up the threat to our public health care system that is coming next month. Dr. Brian Day mounts a court challenge for the right of Private health care. If Dr. Day wins his case, it will be a significant first wedge in the door to open Canada up for business from foreign private health care providers -and more importantly, for those companies' being allowed to sue Canada (under NAFTA) because our public health care system is a threat to their profit-taking.

One thing the Polley Mine Tailings and the Dr. Day Healthcare Challenge have in common is that they are both strongly influenced by government policies, one provincial and the other federal. Governing a province or a country is a very difficult balancing act. We must elect our representatives with great care.

If we want our elected representatives to be more responsible to the citizens, we would do well to change our electoral system to a form of Proportional Representation, rather than our current "first past the post". The group Fair Vote Canada is working towards this change. Our goal is to start a public consultation process to begin immediately following our next federal election, and with petitions and educational events happening right now.

I believe that a proportional representation system would mean that each person's vote would be more effective than it is now, more people would find it worthwhile to cast a vote, and our governments would be more responsive to the electorate.

There is a "Declaration of Voters' Rights" to be signed at: (») Wendy McNiven Comox