Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that since September 17th, 2011, protesters have occupied New York City’s financial district. Since then, people have gathered in financial districts across the globe to speak against austerity measures, against growing income inequality and in favour of dignity and health for all. On October 15th, Canada got its first taste as camps were set up in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, to name a few.
Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Zizek spoke at occupywallstreet on October 10th. He said, “We have all the freedoms we want, but what we’re missing is the… language to articulate our non-freedom.”
Indeed, as some have pointed out, no matter what comes of the protests, they have already succeeded, because they have allowed many who otherwise would not have, to imagine that there are alternatives to capitalism.
In the US, debt incurred as a result of accessing healthcare has been a major frustration of the so-called 99%. In Canada, things are a bit different. On the surface many people who live in Canada have access to healthcare services. In reality however, its clear that growing inequity in this country is making us sick.
In the midst of protest, medical professionals have often acted in solidarity as medics, treating those who are injured while protesting. But, the job isn’t without risks. Twenty physicians and health professionals in Bahrain, for example, were recently sentenced to years in prison following their involvement in treating injured activists during a pro-reform protest last February and March. In Canada, the Medical Reform Group, a coalition of physicians and medical students, has demonstrated solidarity with the Occupy movement by calling for increased taxes on high income earners and corporations, including doctors.
On today’s episode of HealthJusticeRadio we join Stephen Smith, a medic, live from occupywallstreet in New York City.