Solidarity Halifax member Scott Domenie writes a response to Health Minister Leo Glavine’s recent open letter in which he ignores social determinants of health when blaming people for overburdening health care services.
Originally published at Left Turn East.
Nova Scotia’s Liberal Health Minister, Leo Glavine wants us to make healthier life choices. He thinks that we should eat better and exercise more. He wants us to take more individual responsibility for our health. Minister Glavine wants you to mistrust and despise “those people” who abuse the health care system and social assistance programs. He wants you to ignore the social determinants of health such as poverty and stress.
Individual responsibility for basic health is crucial. It is very encouraging to see so many active constituents and local grocers and retailers who are providing for healthy eating choices.
Minister Glavine says he is encouraged by the growing local food movement in Nova Scotia, yet he makes no mention of how difficult it is for people on lower-incomes to access healthy food options. Which I suppose makes some sense since he seems to very much buy into the “moral underclass” view of poverty that sees the poor as victims of nothing but their own “irresponsibility”.
Then there are people who are cognizant abusers of the system. They accept government assistance, yet still have money to travel. These people are abusing their neighbours’ hard-earned money.
All the down-home charm in the world can’t save Glavine’s op-ed for what it is; an attack on the poor. An attack that is rooted in a neoliberal view of individual autonomy and personal responsibility where there can be no discussion of social causes to social problems.
I think an apology is in order, Minister Glavine. If not that, then your resignation. Either now or in four years.
Note: Articles published by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.