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Responses from Candidates

During the previous federal election, Lupus Canada reached out to key politicians of interest to discuss lupus related issues and concerns with. The following are responses that we received from candidates.

Yvonne Kelly
NDP Candidate, Newmarket-Aurora

Thank you for your email. I am very aware of the challenges of living with Lupus and similar disabilities. A number of friends and relatives have suffered with Lupus and I have seen first-hand the impact of the symptoms on day to day living and the quality of life.

For Canadians facing a serious illness we’ll make Employment Insurance work better by extending sickness benefits to 50 weeks of coverage, and creating a pilot project to allow workers with episodic disabilities to access benefits as they need them.

We are committed to reviewing various aspects of the Canada Pension Plan. We are committed to strengthening public pensions and improving retirement security for all Canadians. A New Democrat government will create a Pension Advisory Commission to develop a long-term plan to protect and enhance Old Age Security, boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and strengthen the Canada Pension Plan.

Lupus and other episodic disabilities are challenges that unfortunately many people suffer from and is one of the many issues that as an elected official I would take forward for investigation and action.

Catherine McKenna
Liberal Candidate

Thank you so much for writing to me and for your advocacy on this important health issue. First of all, I am terribly sorry to hear about your struggle with lupus, I hope you find strength with each new day. I believe that a government should work to help people who are living with disabilities.

We passed the first-ever Federal Accessibility Legislation in Parliament. The Accessible Canada Act represents the most significant advancement in federal disability rights in 30 years. It will proactively identify, remove and prevent barriers in a number of priority areas so that all Canadians – regardless of their ability – can fully participate in society. This legislation will establish a model to eliminate barriers and lead to more consistent accessibility in areas under federal jurisdiction across Canada. We have invested $290 million over the next six years to support and implement this Act.

During its implementation we will be looking at opportunities to integrate it with existing programs – so adjusting the definition of the CPP-Disability Component isn’t something which won’t be considered, and I will certainly advocate for it.

You will be happy to hear that, if re-elected, we have committed that we will extend the Employment Insurance sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks.
Furthermore, we will move forward and bring in a national pharmacare program so that Canadians such as yourself no longer have to suffer from the financial burden of having to pay for prescription medications.

We struck the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare because we understand that we need to get this right – we need to consult with stakeholders and experts and look at the evidence. We cannot move forward with a plan haphazardly and hope for the best as the NDP would have us do. A national pharmacare plan is about the health and wellness of all Canadians, and we are taking this responsibility with the attention and care it deserves.

We have received Dr. Hoskins’ report this Spring and we have started taking steps towards implementation. Through Budget 2019, we are creating the Canadian Drug Agency that will make medications more affordable by negotiating better drug prices on behalf of all Canadians.

We are also creating a national formulary – a comprehensive, evidence-based list of prescribed drugs, which will be created as part of the Canadian Drug Agency – to provide the basis for a consistent approach to formulary listing and patient access across the country.

Furthermore, we are also taking steps to help Canadians with rare diseases access the drugs they need. We will invest up to $1 billion over two years which will go towards: the creation of a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases, gathering and evaluating evidence on high-cost drugs for rare diseases, improving the consistency of decision-making and access across the country, negotiating prices with drug manufacturers, and ensuring that effective treatments reach the patients who need them.

A national pharmacare program will require close collaboration between federal, provincial, and territorial governments. We want to work with these partners on the best way to move forward.

Our government will continue working on your behalf; we are prioritizing better healthcare outcomes for Canadians, and your input helps us do this better. Thank you again for writing to me about this important issue, conversations such as this ensure that our government is always focussed on what truly matters.

Jennifer Purdy MD
Green Party Candidate, Kanata-Carleton

Thank you for writing me about this issue.

The Green Party actually wants to get rid of disability and other benefits from both provincial and federal levels, and replace them with a Guaranteed Livable Income. The GLI amount would be different depending on the city, to reflect differences in the cost of living across the country. However, if the Greens do not form government and therefore there is no push for a GLI, I would definitely support reducing the number of accumulated hours of insurable employment. I also agree with changing the CPP – Disability Component to reflect episodic disabilities.

This does not constitute medical advice, but here is a resource that you may find helpful regarding lupus: https://ijdrp.org/index.php/ijdrp/article/view/47. It is a case series about lupus nephritis. If you haven’t already, you may want to research the benefits that may come with eating Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB, now recommended in the Canada Food Guide) for people with lupus. While there are no good quality RCTs done, oftentimes people find their symptoms improve with dietary changes. I hope this helps, and I apologize if this is old information.

Should you have any other questions or concerns, about this topic or any other, please let me know.

My website is jenniferpurdy.ca. There, you can find out more about our election platform, with our plans for everything from pharmacare to childcare, biodiversity to post-secondary education, and beyond. We also have Mission: Possible, a key plan for taking decisive action on climate crisis.

If you are satisfied with my response, and like what you see with our platform and ideas, on my website you can join the Green Party, make a donation, request a lawn sign, and/or volunteer! Thank you in advance for considering!

Tara Howse
Green Party Candidate, South Okanagan-West Kootenay

I have lupus. In fact, I received a scholarship from Lupus Canada a couple of years ago so, yes, I am very aware of its impacts.

While we don’t have a platform position on lupus specifically, it is an issue that deserves consideration by those in a position to help, as those who suffer from this disease are looking at a lifetime on medication and treatment by medical specialists.

Please allow me to recycle a Q&A from the Osoyoos Times earlier this summer: “There are limitations to what MPs can promise with health care delivery as the bulk of services falls under the purview of the province. A starting point is to update the decades old Canada Health Act. It has not seen a major revision since its inception in 1984. Technology improvements, new research, changing demographics, and the modern disease and health conditions all demonstrate an update is necessary.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding this issue. While we don’t have a platform position on lupus specifically, it is an issue that deserves consideration by those in a position to help, as those who suffer from this disease are looking at a lifetime on medication and treatment by medical specialists.

Green Party Candidate, Tara Howse, for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, who herself has lupus, advised: “There are limitations to what MPs can promise with health care delivery as the bulk of services falls under the purview of the province. A starting point is to update the decades old Canada Health Act. It has not seen a major revision since its inception in 1984. Technology improvements, new research, changing demographics, and the modern disease and health conditions all demonstrate an update is necessary.

Pharmacare has always been a priority of the Green Party. The Greens were the first party to call for prescription drug coverage. This will be managed through the development of a Crown corporation tasked with bulk purchasing and dispensing drugs.”

The Green Party will also restore how the federal health transfers are determined, which will change from the current formula of gross domestic product (GDP) to actual need. We also wish to shift the focus of primary care to a patient-centre model, which places the emphasis on communication and information sharing with patients and families to best allow patients to make decisions on their health care options.

Lastly, by improving access to virtual care and closing the digital divide, we can alleviate the demand for extensive travel, an issue that many rural patients face due to limited access to specialists, and for those with lupus the extra travel or mobility issues can cause undue stress.

I hope this has addressed some of your concerns regarding the Green Party’s healthcare strategies, and this issue that you have brought to our attention.

Thank you.

Deb Schulte
Liberal Candidate, King – Vaughan

Please accept my apologies for the delay in response. I had a lot of email come in and I am only now catching up. Thank you for writing to me and for sharing the challenges you face everyday. I am very sorry to hear about your diagnosis and have a friend who’s son also has lupus, so I am aware personally with the difficulties you face. I appreciate the suggestions you identified to help people living with a disability to get the help they need. We have committed to move forward with extending Employment Insurance sickness benefit from 15 weeks to 26 weeks, however this is not what you need for episodic disabilities. I know our current Minister has been looking at ways to better support those living with episodic disabilities and I will be sure to bring these recommendations forward should I have the privilege to represent you again.

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