Guardians of Public Health Care (2019)

For its 40th anniversary the CHC wanted to recognize the tremendous work of special individuals on an issue related to protecting and expanding public health care that has a national focus or national implications. We received high quality nominations from all across Canada and selecting only 3 winners was a challenging task. We would like to present you the three recipients of the Guardians of Public Health Care Awards.


Community category

The recipient of the Guardian of Public Health Care Award in the Community Category was nominated by the Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, Chris Parsons who describes this incredible advocate as a movement builder.

After struggling to ensure his aging mother, stepfather and mother-in-law received adequate care in a long-term health care facility, Ian Johnson became an organizer for Advocates for the Care of the Elderly, a group of concerned seniors and their family members committed to fighting for proper care for the elderly, particularly those living in long-term care or receiving homecare.

Until his retirement in 2016 and for almost 20 years, Ian has worked for the Nova Scotia General Employees Union. He has been involved in a wide variety of community organizations and is a pillar of the defense of public health care in Nova Scotia, including over a decade as an executive board member of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition.

Ian’s involvement with the Nova Scotia and the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) goes back to 1982. He was the second chairperson of the NS Health Coalition and was active in the struggle against physician extra-billing and the threat of hospital user fees. His first direct contact with the CHC was at a conference in Ottawa in 1983 at which Tommy Douglas and Monique Begin were speakers. He was subsequently involved in the campaign pressing for what was to become the Canada Health Act. Actually, Ian was a member of the CHC delegation to speak to the proposed legislation in 1984.


Academic category

The recipient of the Guardian of Public Health Care Award in the Academic Category was nominated by University of Ottawa Professor YY Chen who describes her as a leading health law scholar in Canada.

Professor Martha Jackman has worked tirelessly to draw attention to and tackle the multiple systemic barriers that undermine access to health care for people in Canada.

Professor Jackman has made a significant contribution to the field of socio-economic rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and health. She has written numerous academic articles and book chapters on protecting and promoting Canada’s public health care system and the role of the Charter in protecting a right to health. She has also been a longstanding advocate of socioeconomic rights, including a positive right to health care.

Professor Jackman has acted as legal counsel for several organizations including the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) in test cases including Chaoulli v. Québec. She is also a former board member of the CHC.


Labour category

The recipient of the Guardian of Public Health Care Award in the labour Category was nominated by CHC Executive Board Member Julie White because her work has been very significant in achieving the national prominence that the issue of pharmacare now has.

Linda Silas has worked tirelessly for well over 15 years to promote the need for a national public drug plan. Under her guidance as President, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has produced several groundbreaking reports on the subject, lobbied MPs at every opportunity and influenced the broader labour movement.

Linda’s commitment to winning pharmacare is obvious. The President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Hassan Yussuff, has applauded her persistence and influence when the CLC launched their pharmacare campaign.

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