Canada uses “bird-dogging tactics” to force meeting with health minister

Health minister Jane Philpott, right, held a meet and greet at the Markham District Veterans Association building. Scott Simpson,left, and Jeffrey Smith, centre with hat, are part of a planned protest. Protesters want more funding and a change of thinking towards neurological illness ME myalgic encephalomyelitis. Jan 15, 2016

Toronto: #MillionsMissing activists attended their federal health minister’s “meet-and-greet” on Jan. 14th to ask the health minister to respond publicly to their request that she announce Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a biological – and not psychological – illness.

This tactic to pin down an official with a specific question in a public venue is called “bird-dogging.”

Their persistence was rewarded with the health minister agreeing to set up a meeting with the activists to discuss their demands for ME.

The activists, a group of 10, had invited CTV News to broadcast their conversation with federal Health Minister Jane Philpott.

They waited for their turn to speak to the health minister and, with the TV camera rolling, asked her to commit to the following for ME:

  • Announce that ME is a biological – and not psychological – illness.
  • Ensure that physicians start using the Canadian Consensus Criteria for diagnosing patients.
  • Commit to developing a national strategy for ME.

“We explained [to Philpott] that these small gestures would have a profound effect on the lives of those with ME,” said Scott Simpson who organized the event.

In response, Minister Philpott said she receives a lot of requests for National Strategies every week. She would not commit to making a public announcement that ME is biological, Simpson said.

The activists decided that the health minister’s response was not good enough. Simpson got onto a chair, and in a very loud voice said,  “Sorry to interrupt your meet-and-greet but there is something very important that the Canadian public needs to know,” and then he began to tell the room about the government’s neglect of people with ME.

Minister Philpott responded that she would speak with the activists after the meet-and-greet, and then she agreed to set up a meeting with Simpson to discuss their demands for ME.

View the live TV coverage of the event here, and read the press coverage here.

Read more about bird-dogging tactics here. In the U.S., attend a bird-dogging training call on how to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare and Medicaid by registering here.


Categories: Actions, Awareness, Featured news, Global

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