The recent violence between Hamas and Israel has laid bare for the world once again the costs and horrors of oppression. Along with many other people in Canada, we mourn the loss of life in Gaza and Israel in recent weeks.

Hate, intolerance and abuse of power continue to see innocent people hurt, displaced and killed – only because of where and when they exist. Through no fault of their own, civilians, including children and the elderly, are bearing the brunt of the costs of military conflict.

For many members of the Alliance for Healthier Communities, the reality of global conflict has local impacts on people and communities, with increased stress, depression, anxiety and other trauma-related issues surfacing for those with families and loved ones close to this global tragedy.

As well, in Canada, people are being persecuted for calling for peace, and people are facing increased incidents of hate and racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, in their communities, schools and workplaces. People across Ontario and Canada must have the freedom to express their political ideas/ideals and their identities without fear and without oppression. This is a bedrock of not just our democracy, but our shared humanity.

Alliance members are providers of comprehensive primary health care services across Ontario. The Alliance and its members are also advocates and a strong voice for health equity, social justice and the right to access health and social services. What we also see during this conflict, like so many others, is a denial of rights – to health, to safety and security, to water and food. As an organization representing health care providers, the Alliance calls for an immediate end to violence, and that full access be restored to aid agencies and others to provide medical services, food, clean drinking water and other essentials of life. It is impossible to talk peace, to consider politics, to seek agreements, with the basics of life for millions of people hanging in the balance.

The Alliance and its members are guided by, and have a shared responsibility to, our Health Equity Charter. As we continue to support communities, the people we serve, staff, volunteers and newcomers to Canada, we will continue to strive for a society that protects the human rights of all people, and that takes steps to dismantle systems and cultures of oppression and deprivation. We know these are difficult and often emotion-charged conversations. In Canada, individual people and our governments alike have the responsibility to face the complexities of this conflict directly, and to ensure that voices for human rights are prominent, respected and most importantly, listened to for guidance during this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

We must remain aware of the connections between colonialism, oppression, violence and hate, abroad and here in Canada. To have a different, more peaceful world, and different and more peaceful relationships with each other, we must find and strengthen the points of our common humanity that reinforce a fair, just and safe world for all.


Thursday, November 23, 2023