Open Letter To the Public Health Association of British Columbia

To the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC) Board of Directors,

We are writing to express our concern regarding the PHABC’s promotion of partnerships with the business sector at the conference “Shared prosperity for health and well-being: A collaborative dialogue between business and public health” on December 4-5, 2014.

Although the stated mission of these partnerships is “creating the conditions for health and well-being for all”[1], it is well-documented that markets are incapable of providing health services equitably across and within communities and do not serve the interests of those who cannot afford to pay. Julian Tudor Hart describes this as the inverse care law, where those with the greatest healthcare needs often receive the least adequate healthcare. In 1971, he wrote that, “the market distribution of medical care is a primitive and historically outdated social form, and any return to it would further exaggerate the maldistribution of medical resources.”[2] Over 40 years later his words are more urgent than ever.


De-funding and privatization of public services have only intensified in the face of neoliberal policies, particularly in health. The private sector cannot fill these service gaps, and detracts from the responsibility of governments to provide public services in our right to health. Similarly, corporate projects of “social responsibility” are part of a growing arena of philanthro-capitalism where health is viewed as a profit-making and corporate investment opportunity.

Partnerships between the health and business sectors are fundamental contradictions: while our primary responsibility in health is to improve the health of our community, the primary aim of business is to serve shareholders in the accumulation of profit. Health care is not a commodity to be bought and sold, and we need only to look to the pharmaceutical industry to see that diseases of the poor receive little attention and monopoly over products (and services) inflates prices to unaffordable levels.

To improve health for all, we need to engage in concrete actions on the social and structural determinants of health[3]. The highly unequal distribution of power and wealth under capitalism are the main drivers of health inequities, which result in differential access to the resources that affect health, such as housing, income, and education. There can never be shared prosperity between health and business, as economic growth and wealth creation occurs at the expense of the politically and economically marginalized. This is particularly salient in British Columbia, where resource extraction is causing innumerable harms to the health of our communities and the environment. We only further entrench health inequities when our prosperity is gained at the expense of others. We can only improve the health of our communities when we work to increase their control and decision-making over their health care, resources, and their lives.

As health workers, researchers, and students, we urge the PHABC reconsider its direction in seeking partnerships in the private sector and to engage in critical dialogue on meaningful actions towards health equity.


The Alliance for People’s Health

Jannie Wing-sea Leung, MSc
Leah Diana, RN
Azar Mehrabadi, PhD
Thomas Warren
Martha Roberts, RM, MSc(c)

Endorsed by:

People’s Health Movement – Canada

We invite individuals and organizations to endorse this letter. Action toward equity and justice is urgent. If you or your organization would like to endorse this letter, please contact us at

[2] Hart JT. The inverse care law. The Lancet. 1971;297(7696): 405-412.
[3] World Health Organization (WHO). Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Geneva (CH): WHO; 2008.


Alliance for Peoples’ Health would like to thank Audrey Siegl, Freda Huson, Dini Ze Toghestiy, Glen Coulthard, the artists, the performers, the volunteers, Heartwood Community Cafe, Astorino’s, and all those who attended the event for contributing towards the Fundraiser for Unist’ot’en Camp. The event raised $5223 for the protection of sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory from destructive pipelines.

Here is our Solidarity Message:

The Alliance for Peoples Health welcomes you to the Fundraiser for the Unist’ot’en Camp.

APH, a grassroots organization of health workers and health activists committed to the struggle for health for all, stands in solidarity and offers our support for the Grassroots Wet’suwet’en and the Unist’ot’en Camp. APH hopes this event contributes support (financial, inkind, and moral) for the Unistoten Camp’s legitimate resistance, a resistance today’s speakers will discuss further.

Last year, after undergoing the Traditional Wet’suwet’en Law of Free Prior and Informed Consent Protocol, APH organizers had the opportunity to learn and share on the lands of the Unist’ot’en of the Wet’suwet’en, particularly at the Unist’ot’en Camp. Their experience with Freda, Toghestiy, Satsi, and the animals on their sovereign traditional territory deepened APH’s commitment to expose and oppose the structural violence of ongoing Colonialism, Imperialism, and Neoliberalism.

APH understands colonialism, precisely settler colonialism in Canada is not an event of the past. Ongoing is the violent dispossession and disappearance of Indigenous lands and peoples, especially women. Canada’s past and present tactics of assimilation and genocide, including the spread of disease and medical science; as well as colonial relations and relationships embedded in Canadian bureaucracies, like Health Canada, has produced and reproduces conditions and environments that destroy health and healing. Settler colonialism, along with racism, is a structural determinant of health; a structural determinant that only benefits the health of privileged settlers.

APH understands Imperialism, and its violent and aggressive ways to acquire territories and extract super-profits, have never ceased. By military, political, economic, and cultural means, imperialist nation-states, including Canada, instigate and engage in wars of aggression and occupation, plunder resources, and destroy ancestral lands and environments. Imperialism, like colonialism, is a structural determinant of health. Imperialism’s unbridled greed, terrorism, and inter-imperialist rivalries, inflict suffering, displacement, poverty, homelessness, and disease upon the mass majority of the peoples of the world.

Another structural determinant of health is the Imperialist policy of neoliberal globalization. Imperialist nation-states uses agencies like the IMF, World Bank, and WTO to push the liberalization of trade and investment, privatization of public assets, and the deregulation of social and environmental protection. Neoliberal globalization has opened entire countries, like the Philippines, to resource extraction industries, like Canadian mining companies, destroying lands and displacing people. Neoliberal globalization has forced the displacement and migration of peoples within nation-state borders from rural areas to urban centres, only to find unemployment and live in poverty. Neoliberal globalization has forced the displacement and migration of peoples from the Third World to the First World to work as cheap, precarious, temporary labour. Neoliberal globalization has pushed public assets such as health and health care, into privatization. Neoliberal globalization only serves to suit Imperialist greed to amass territory and super-profits, not to serve the health and healing of the people.

Colonialism, Imperialism, Neoliberalism create conditions and environments that produce and reproduce disease and ill-health. And it forces peoples’ dependency on the biomedical-pharmaceutical industrial complex it creates to treat these diseases and ill-health.

As health workers and health activists of APH, it is our responsibility to contest neutrality pervasive in mainstream health work. As health workers, it is our responsibility to challenge ourselves and seriously ask ourselves what it means to be wrapped up in settler colonial relations.

We encourage other health workers to contribute, take part, and be in solidarity with movements and struggles, like the Unist’ot’en Camp, as ways to address and transform the structural violence that impacts health for all.

Alliance for Peoples’ Health


Fundraiser For Unist’ot’en Camp!

poster for aph eventFEATURING:  Wet’suwet’en leaders Freda Huson and Dini Toghestiy of the Unist’ot’en Camp; Dene author and scholar Glen Coulthard

Cherlyn Cortes with Noah Walker
Eirene Cloma
The Beast Van Cipher (featuring DubGee, Kimmortal, KA.LIL, Jewelah, Sol Diana, Niki Nice, Jill Laxamana, Kris Blade, and Ayex Bathan)
Purple Hearts Social Club

Bert Monterona, Ethel Farrales, Dini Toghestiy

Entrance by donation (sliding scale $5 – $50)
no one will be turned away for lack of funds

About Unist’ot’en Camp:

The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance community whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region.

The camp is located at the shore of the Wedzin Kwah and mouth of the Gosnell Creek. These are all tributary to the Skeena, Bulkley, and Babine Rivers. The proposed pipelines from Enbridge Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails both seek to cross the rivers at the exact point where the resistance camp is built on the Unis’tot’en Territory of Talbits Kwah.

The Unist’ot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu / Big Frog Clan) along with other strong uncompromising allies will stop this destructive path, for the future generations, for the biodiversity, and for solidarity with our neighbours living amidst the heavy impacts in the Tar Sands Affected areas in Northern Alberta, and regions heavily affected by Fracking Natural Gas and Shale Oil, as well as communities impacted by Refineries, Pipelines, and Fuel Terminals and Port Expansions.

End Medical Profiteering! Demand Health for All!

Speech from APH Organizer Martha Roberts at the 3rd Annual Day of Action for Refugee Health Care.

Release Dr. GN Saibaba Immediately and Unconditionally!

Release Dr. GN Saibaba Immediately and Unconditionally!
Statement of the Alliance for Peoples Health
The Alliance for Peoples Health, a grassroots organization of progressive health workers, condemns the assault and abduction of Dr. Saibaba by Indian state police on May 9th, and call for his immediate and unconditional release.
Dr. Saibaba is a professor at Delhi University and is known for his outstanding work in solidarity with movements of the most oppressed sectors of Indian society: Dalit people, Adivasi people, women, and the poor, all of  whom have faced intensified oppression and exploitation under Indian capitalism.
Despite its democratic and public character, Dr. Saibaba’s organization, the Revolutionary Democratic Front has been targeted violently by Indian police, military and paramilitary forces.  This tagging of activists as ‘maoist’, justifying violent repression, has become a major tactic of the Indian state in its attempt to silence, marginalize and liquidate those who organize and struggle for social, economic and environmental justice.
As health activists we are very concerned about Dr. Saibaba’s health and well being while in detention.  As health workers who choose to side with the excluded, the exploited and the oppressed we add our voice to many others around the world who are calling for Dr. Saibaba’s immediate and unconditional release!
Alliance for Peoples Health
Vancouver – Unceded Coast Salish Territories, Canada
May 13, 2014

THE PEOPLE’S health series

aph_healthseries_V5The Alliance for People’s Health presents:

THE PEOPLE’S health series

A series of FREE workshops to build skills and knowledge around collective health and well-being

Pre-registration Required.  All workshops 1pm-4pm.
Childcare available. Snacks provided.
For more information contact:
439 Dunlevy Avenue, Vancouver BC

April 6: The People’s History:  This interactive workshop will explore the roots of our personal health histories, as it relates to taking care of our health in the context of our current situation and the communities which we are part of.

APR 27: PATIENT’S RIGHTS: Taking Control of our Health Navigating the current healthcare system as patients can be intimidating and confusing. Join us as we examine patients’ rights and how we, as individuals and communities, can take control of our health and our health care.

MAY 25: Stress & Anxiety Share tips on how to manage and cope with stress and anxiety in your life through learning relaxation techniques and other methods. Discuss what are the roots of our stress and anxiety and what we share in common. Talk about what we can change as individuals and what we can change through collective action.

JUN 15: DENTAL CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT! Learn about the basics of taking care of your teeth and how to take care for the teeth of the children in your family. Discuss as a group how the lack of access to dental care impacts our communities

International Women’s Day 2013

iwd poster new

Women at the Forefront of Emancipation: Resisting Structural Violence and Exploitation!

Statement by the International Women’s Day Organizing Committee 2013

On March 8th International Women’s Day we raise our fists in solidarity with women struggling for emancipation and we stand united in defense of women’s rights, for genuine liberation for all women.

Women resist colonial occupation!
Today we rally on unceded Coast Salish territory; the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Indigenous women bear a great burden of colonial occupation and yet across the globe it is Indigenous women who keep the fires of resistance burning in the face of displacement, ethnic cleansing, and genocidal attacks on Indigenous culture, history and traditions.

Indigenous women have never been idle! Palestinian women assert their right to return to the lands from which they were expelled by the Israeli colonial settler state. In India, Adivasi women struggle to protect their ancestral territories despite extreme state violence.

Women resist imperialist plunder of the land and natural resources!
Women lead pivotal struggles for environmental and economic justice in opposition to mining and extractive industries, tar sands, fracking fields, oil and gas pipelines, mono-crop agribusiness, and imperialist military aggression which leads to the destruction and poisoning of the earth.

Former Filipina political prisoner Angie Ipong spent 6 years in prison for joining peasant and Indigenous communities in their land struggles. Freda Huson and women of the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en are defying pipelines and development aggression on their territories. Wahu Kaara and millions of women across Africa are fighting displacement, development aggression and colonial debt exploitation. These brave women inspire us to protect the Earth and our future generations!

Women resist capitalist exploitation!
Women’s reproductive labour continues to form the basis of capitalist profit as women provide privatized labour in the home and are segregated into ‘women’s work’ such as teaching, nursing, food service, and household management. Women’s work is devalued, and despite decades of struggle, women in Canada continue to be paid only 70% or less of what men earn. In Canada women comprise the vast majority of migrant workers from Asia, forced to migrate by neoliberal economic policies, providing deskilled and cheap labour, privatized health care, and modern-day domestic slavery to the Canadian middle and upper classes.

Migrant women in Canada face a triple-burden of racism, exploitation, and patriarchal violence, and yet women are on the frontlines of struggles against austerity and in defense of public services such as healthcare, daycare and public education. Migrant, immigrant and undocumented women workers,
often excluded from the mainstream union movement, defend and assert their rights through community organizations against great odds.

Women resist patriarchal violence!
There are over 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. For decades women’s organizations have known that the police are integrated in a patriarchal justice system which fails to address violence against women, and in fact, forms a part of the problem. Prostitution, trafficking, and the sexual commodification of women is exploitation and violence against women for the purposes of capitalist accumulation, colonial control, and patriarchal power. It is time to decriminalize women in the sex trade and demand an end to the buying and selling of women! Male violence in the family, including in social justice movements, reinforces patriarchy and gives men individual power over women. It is time to hold men accountable for their sexist attacks against women.

We fight for all women to be free from male violence and sexual exploitation. We stand in solidarity with women who resist religious institutions, ideologies, and practices that suppress and govern women’s lives in all aspects: political, economic, and social limitations placed on women by reactionary theocratic regimes. Hands off women’s bodies and lives!

In India tens of thousands took to the streets in militant protests following the rape of women on a public bus, women political prisoners in Iran recently went on hunger strike to resist torture and degrading and inhumane conditions imposed by the Islamic regime, and in Canada Indigenous women lead the struggle for justice for their murdered and missing sisters, daughters, mothers and aunties.

Women Rising for Emancipation and Justice!
Women around the world are at the forefront of struggles for emancipation that ultimately seek to end capitalism, patriarchy, exploitation, and greed. We struggle to build a society based on collaboration, cooperation, self-determination, the fulfillment of human potential, and the survival of our planet.

  • We stand in solidarity with all women who struggle for emancipation!
  • Hands off women’s bodies and women’s lives!
  • Justice for all missing and murdered women!
  • Resist the plunder of our lands!
  • Long Live International Solidarity!

Host organizations:
Iranian Left Alliance-Vancouver
Alliance for People’s Health
Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice
Migrante BC
International Federation of Iranian Refugees and Immigrants (IFIRI)