Pauline Worsfold’s schedule would exhaust us mere mortals. A frontline nurse, she is also Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and Chairperson of the Canadian Health Coalition, an Inter Pares counterpart. For decades, Pauline has been at the forefront of healthcare activism nationally, and in her home province of Alberta.
Envisioning a post-COVID transformation, Pauline says, “This is our opportunity to reimagine healthcare. If I could wave my magic wand, we would have a seamless system with mental health support, home care, pharmacare, dental care, and national regulations for seniors’ care. Our public system would be about wellness, not sickness. Now’s the time and our only problem will be not asking for enough.”
Pauline sees privatization and the profit motive as a threat to this vision. “Profiteers can’t be the puppeteers of the system – making money off the backs of the sick, frail and elderly. When people ask how we can afford all of this, I note that investments in pharmacare would save us between $5 and $13 billion.”
Pauline’s vision is an integrated one. Recently, a young man came into her care. He had broken several bones when he was thrown out of the dumpster where he had spent the night. “The social determinants of health should be our lens. Broken bones can heal but what about mental health and addictions counselling? What about homelessness? What about nutrition and poverty? I want to live in a country and in a world where I know that young man would be supported.”
Inter Pares sees parallels between Pauline’s vision and that of our international counterparts, including Likhaan Center for Women’s Health in the Philippines and the Mae Tao Clinic and Backpack Health Workers Team in Thailand and Burma. Together, we all share a vision of healthcare rooted in equity and compassion.
This is our opportunity to reimagine healthcare. If I could wave my magic wand, we would have a seamless system with mental health support, home care, pharmacare, dental care, and national regulations for seniors’ care.