October 15, 1979 (31st Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Joseph Ogle

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ogle:

In my nomination speech and all through the campaign that I carried out for many months I stated in that first speech, and many times afterward, that it was my intention to defend human life from its conception until its natural end. In doing so I tried to lay down quite simply the fact of my basic belief in human rights which has been expressed by many members of this House already in this session. My basic belief is that each human being has been given the right to life and that this right continues until they naturally die. These rights are sometimes of an individual nature and sometimes of a collective nature. They ought not to be infringed upon at any time.
Now, both in our country and in the world infringement of human rights continues. During that short space of time that we human beings have to live on this planet, you and I, Mr. Speaker, and all others have somehow or other to struggle and fight to see that the rights of all human beings are safeguarded, and one of the rights that I consider to be basic to each of us is the right to health. That right encompasses and takes into account all the other human living conditions that are necessary to make it possible for a person to live as a healthy person. And when 1 speak of health I speak not only of the physical health which we all hope to have, but also of the psychological, moral, spiritual and emotional health which makes it possible for a human being to live as a human being and, more important, makes it possible for a nation to live as a healthy nation and the world to live as a healthy community of nations. So when I speak of health, I do not speak merely of the medical state which so frequently is used as the whole standard; 1 speak of the whole integrated reality that makes up the well-being of all people.
As 1 have said, it is one of my basic personal convictions that the right to health is one of the most important rights we have as human beings, and that if we as Canadian citizens want really to make a mark at the United Nations it is important that we show the way with a model of ourselves rather than with a pointing of the finger at others who have so far not reached that level of health.
It was basically because of this that 1 was disappointed in the Speech from the Throne. 1 found quite quickly that there was not a single mention of health or the social principles and bases which are needed to bring about a healthy society. The question of health and more specifically the question of medical care have in no way been totally settled in this country. A
The Address-Mr. Ogle
former member of Parliament of my party, Tommy Douglas, said this past weekend in Toronto that he believes that there is a grave danger for our country because the medical care system we now have is under serious pressure and could, in a sense, disintegrate. In the next few minutes I would like to direct some of my remarks to that particular problem and crisis. I agree that it is one of the main problems in our country today.
In passing 1 will say that the right to health is not listed as such among the rights of the United Nations, but in article 25 a much broader stand, what I like to think of as rights across the board, was stated as follows:
Every human being has the right to a standard of living adequate to ensure his health and well-being, as well as those of his family-particularly as regards their need for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, as well as the necessary social services...
In May, 1977 at the World Health Assembly our country went on record when it adopted the global health goal, which is as follows;
That the main social targets of governments and the World Health Organization in the coming decades should be the attainment by all citizens of the world by the year 2000 of a level of health that will permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life.
I personally feel we should keep that goal before ourselves all the time.
In the coming years there will be many areas of health about which I would like to speak. One of them will be the whole question of human nutrition and food. 1 have lived part of my life in the developing world. I have lived with starving people whose main problem was lack of food, but I think that wc and people like ourselves who live with bounty but who many times are overfed and undernourished must seriously look into the whole question of food as it is used and eaten in our country. We must look critically at artificial foods and ingredients which make "natural" food anything but natural food.
On the question of medicare once more, I have heard various speakers in the past week in this House refer to medicare. Many of them claimed that they had a great deal to do with its founding, but I personally had the experience of living very close to the heart of the medicare crisis of 1962 in Saskatchewan when the first universal medicare plan in North America came into effect. The battle began on July 1 of that year and continued until July 23. There was a basic tearing apart of many people because of the intensity of that head-on struggle, but it finally resulted in a signed declaration in Saskatoon on July 23 which gave the province of Saskatchewan the first medicare plan in North America.
At that time I was younger than I am today, of course, but by a particular accident of fate I was living directly between the two sides. The government of Saskatchewan was headquartered in the Bessborough Hotel, and the medical profession was headquartered in the medical building just a few hundred yards down the street. Directly in the centre of that was the old Catholic Centre of which I used to be the director. During those 23 days I literally lived in no man's land.

October 15, 1979
The Address-Mr. Ogle
However, at the end of the 23 days there had been a basic social change in the history of our country. I feel now that those 23 days had a great influence on my life in relation to many other social questions. It was an education to be there and to see that finally social change of a basic nature came about only when a group of people had in themselves a vision and, more than a vision, the courage to bring about that vision even though everyone seemed to be against them.

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