Category Archives: Class

Rally for Public Dental Insurance; Care and the Welfare State

Smile with Dignity Rally & Lecture on Care and the Welare State |

This week we bring you reports from two recent events in Vancouver: a rally organized by the ‘Smile with Dignity’ campaign for universal public dental insurance, and a lecture at UBC by Professor James Struthers on trends in health care delivery.

On October 29, 2011, organizers and supporters of the Smile with Dignity campaign, an initiative of the Vancouver-based Alliance for People’s Health, rallied at Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office with the message that “the lack of dental coverage in BC is scary.” The Halloween-themed protest included giant teeth costumes, a play, an open mic session and the delivery of a set of demands to the Premier’s office.

In the second part of our show we bring you excerpts from Prof. James Struthers’ November 21 lecture at UBC entitled “Care and the Welfare State: Past Patterns, Future Prospects.” Prof. Struthers’ details the meaning of ‘care’ in a disintegrating welfare state, and the impact of health care privatization for patients and their families.

Social and Structural Determinants of Health: A Global Perspective

Social and Structural Determinants of Health: A Global Perspective

A further discussion of the social and structural determinants of health.  In two presentations recorded at the International League of People’s Struggles Fourth International Assembly Martha Roberts from the Alliance for People’s Health and Delen de la Paz from Health Action for Human Rights expose the inadequacy of the World Health Organization’s interpretation of a social determinants of health approach and argue that we need to look to socialist models of health care such as in Cuba and post-revolution China for a guide to creating a truly people centred health care system.

This is the second and final ‘report back’ show on Martha and Aiyanas’s 2011 solidarity trip to the Philippines.  You can read more about our trip at our blog This Tiny Globe.  You can also read more of Martha’s analysis of the social and structural determinants of health on the blog.

Dying for a ride

Lately I’ve been thinking about public transit.   It’s a buzzing sort of worry that comes to me when I am doing something mindless.  Actually, I’ve been trying NOT to think about public transit. It gives me no small amount of anxiety to do so.  But much as I try to distract myself, I have to say that  I am really worried about the people that ride the buses and trains here in Vancouver.

Two news items have been floating around in my mind over the last couple weeks.  One, the shooting of  Charles Hill in San Francisco by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officers.  Charles Hill is the fifth man killed by BART police since 1992, and the first white man to be killed by them.   He was homeless and drunk, and shot within 60 seconds of police arriving on scene.

Just days before, MUNI police shot a 19 year old Black man when he fled during a routine fare check.   These are  sad, infuriating, and increasingly familiar stories.

And the other news item is closer to home.  Turnstiles in Skytrain stations. Lauded by many pundits as a blow against ‘free loaders’ in the transit system, the turnstiles don’t make any sort of fiscal sense.  They will cost 170 million dollars to build.  15 million dollars a year to operate.  ‘Fare evasion’ costs between 5 – 9 million dollars per year (a number that many say is overblown).

So the benefit of the turnstiles isn’t financial.  They will cost far more than they save.  The turnstiles are a coup for people who think transit should be privatized.  They are a triumph for people who think poor people should be ashamed and kept out of site.

Mark my words.  The Vancouver transit police (with their guns) won’t go away.  We’ll have both the police and the turnstiles.  No question in my mind.

Turnstiles and guns.  Blood and money.  Life and death.  People need to ride the bus to get where they need to go.   To get to the doctors.  To get to their job.  To get to the welfare office.  To see their kids.  Sometimes I feel like this city is becoming more cruel every day.

What’s the health impact of all this?  In some ways we could measure it (maybe a survey of the amount of walking poor people have to do before and after the turnstiles?  The amount of doctors appointments missed?  Family not seen?) and in some ways we can’t really measure  it.  How do we measure the feeling of being an outsider in your own city?  Of feeling criminalized for being poor?  The stress of keeping track of every quarter so you can make it to work tomorrow?

And the connection between the two stories?  The police killing someone who can’t pay their fare  is to me a predictable result of criminalizing people for being poor, or Black, or mentally ill.  And that makes me really sick.


Think before you Pink: the politics of breast cancer |

Think before you Pink: the politics of breast cancer |

In this episode of People’s Health Radio, we explore the Politics of Breast Cancer. The main question driving this episode is why environmental and occupational causes of breast cancer are rarely brought up in the mainstream activism around cancer. According to David Christiani “…the most valuable approaches to reducing cancer morbidity and mortality lie in primary prevention – avoiding the introduction of carcinogenic agents into the environment and eliminating exposure to carcinogenic agents that are already there” (New England Journal of Medicine, 2011). But stopping or reducing occupational exposures to carcinogens and eliminating toxins from the air, water and products around us is fundamentally a social justice issue. Spending money on employee’s safety and making products safer cuts into corporate profits.

We start off with an interview with Joy, a breast cancer “survivor” (although she finds the term problematic for reasons she discusses). Joy did not have the typical risk factors people associate with breast cancer. She had no family history, exercised regularly and ate well. So why did she get cancer? Joy discusses why she would like to see more of a focus on the environmental causes of breast cancer.

Next we interview Karuna Jaggar, the executive director of Breast Cancer Action ( Breast Cancer Action is a national organization in the United States that calls for the elimination of environmental toxins that cause cancer and accountability for the corporate-driven pink ribbon campaign in their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. Karuna discusses how the pink ribbon is not regulated and criticizes corporate “pink washing” where a company tries to divert attention from their toxic products by branding them with the pink ribbon. Other questions she encourages people to inquire about are how much money actually goes to breast cancer. Overall, we conclude that in order to truly fight the breast cancer epidemic, stronger environmental laws and regulations are urgently needed.

In case you’re interested, here’s an organization with information about everyday products that cause cancer Although individual consumer choice alone is inadequate and is often unfeasible, it’s nice that some researchers and community members are trying to provide us with some evidence-based information about how to protect ourselves.

Music: Keep going, by Invincible and Occupying Army by Vanessa Richards

Health and Human Rights in the Philippines


What’s the state of health and human rights in the Philippines today?

We revisit the story of the Morong 43, a group of 43 community health workers detained by the Philippine Government from February to December of 2010.  What have been the impacts of the detainment and ongoing military harassment on the health workers, their families and communities?


Interview with Aiyanas Ormond – People’s Health Radio co-host and local organizer who is currently in the Philippines with his partner and children on a solidarity mission.  More information about their trip can be found at

Interview with Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 health workers detained by the Philppine government.

and audio from a talk in Vancouver by Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance.

Music by Victor Noriega, Aki Merced/Renato Reyes/Karl Ramirez, Amadou, James Caraang (Feat. Margie Banda and Sol Diana), Black Uhuru

A sad statement on access to health care in the United States

I found this story in the news a few days ago.  A man in Gaston County, North Carolina, saw no other option to obtain health care services but to go to jail.  So he decided to rob a bank – of one dollar.  Here’s the newspaper story:

This story is a sad reflection on the lack of even basic medical care for the 30 million Americans without health care insurance coverage.   In my eyes, there was a crime commited in this story – not by James Richard Verone – but by the inhumane health care system that denies him necessary care and pushes him to desperate acts.

Nine Month Blues: A look at women’s reproductive rights in Canada |

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN: Nine Month Blues: A look at women’s reproductive rights in Canada |

From birth control, to abortion, to access to information and education, what’s happening with sexual health for women in Canada?

We talk to Greg Smith (Executive Director of and Joyce Arthur (Executive Director of the Abortion rights Coalition Of Canada – about the lay of the land for women’s reproductive rights in Canada.  We also include audio from the audio documentary “The Women Are Coming” about the Abortion Caravan to fight for women’s right too access free and legal abortion.

Music by Peggy Seeger, the Gruff, Ani Difranco, the Great Lake Swimmers and Nellie McKay.

The title of this podcast is borrowed from the Peggy Seeger song “9 Month Blues”.