Lo­cal doc­tor teams up with Bernie San­ders

How Dr. Danielle Martin be­came a key player in the Medi­care for All bid by Sa­man­tha Peksa

Bayview Post - - News -

Dr. Danielle Martin has been a fa­mil­iar face to res­i­dents of North Toronto for years, hav­ing worked out of Sun­ny­brook Health Cen­tre be­tween 2010 and 2017. Lately, she’s be­come known to many more, gain­ing in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion when she publicly de­fended Canada’s health-care sys­tem and threw her sup­port be­hind Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders’ long-shot bid to im­ple­ment a sim­i­lar sys­tem in the United States last month.

San­ders in­vited Martin and other health-care pro­fes­sion­als to join him at a Wash­ing­ton rally to pitch leg­is­la­tion called Medi­care for All: a sin­gle­payer health-care sys­tem that would grant cov­er­age to all Amer­i­cans with a govern­ment-is­sued ID card.

Martin cur­rently prac­tises as a fam­ily doc­tor at Women’s Col­lege Hospi­tal down­town and is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Toronto. She said it was her 2014 tes­ti­mony de­fend­ing the Cana­dian health care sys­tem be­fore a U.S. Se­nate sub­com­mit­tee that ini­tially caught San­ders’ at­ten­tion. A video of Martin’s pow­er­ful tes­ti­mony, in re­sponse to a Repub­li­can sen­a­tor’s crit­i­cisms of the Cana­dian health-care sys­tem, went vi­ral and gar­nered more than a mil­lion views on­line.

At the rally last month, San­ders noted the cur­rent sys­tem in the U.S. leaves 28 mil­lion Amer­i­cans with­out health in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

“In the United States, we spend al­most twice as much per capita on health care as any other na­tion on earth, and yet we have 28 mil­lion peo­ple with­out health in­sur­ance and even more who are un­der­in­sured with high de­ductibles and co-pay­ments,” said San­ders.

Speak­ing with Post City, Martin echoed San­ders’ sen­ti­ments that health care should be con­sid­ered a right and not a priv­i­lege.

“Free­dom from fi­nan­cial ruin when you are sick is such a ba­sic need, and it’s key to the eco­nomic and so­cial suc­cess of ev­ery coun­try,” she said.

As a re­sult of her in­volve­ment with San­ders’ cam­paign, Martin is now on the front lines of what she’s called fear mon­ger­ing, mainly by the Repub­li­can party, con­cern­ing Cana­dian health care.

“I think it’s so im­por­tant for Cana­di­ans to pay at­ten­tion to health-care de­bates hap­pen­ing now in the U.S. Given how of­ten Canada comes up, we need to share the facts. We need to be clear about what the ev­i­dence has to say about how our sys­tem ac­tu­ally per­forms,” she said.

Martin said she’s faced many mis­con­cep­tions about the our health-care sys­tem while down south, in­clud­ing claims that it is in­fe­rior in some way be­cause it is publicly funded or that Cana­di­ans are dy­ing on the streets be­cause of wait-lists. So when she held up her Cana­dian health-care card for all to see at the rally, she hoped to put those fears to rest.

“There is lots to be proud of and lots of work still to be done — our sys­tem is far from per­fect. But where myths are be­ing prop­a­gated, we need to set the record straight,” she said.

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