Toronto doctor teams up with Bernie Sanders to support universal healthcare

How Dr. Danielle Martin became a key player in the Medicare for All bid


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Dr. Martin at a Sept. 13 rally held by Bernie Sanders on Capitol Hill

Image: Jackson C. Davis/Instagram

Dr. Danielle Martin has been a familiar face to residents of North Toronto for years, having worked out of Sunnybrook Health Centre between 2010 and 2017. Lately, she’s become known to many more, gaining international attention when she publicly defended Canada’s health-care system and threw her support behind Senator Bernie Sanders’ long-shot bid to implement a similar system in the United States last month. 

Sanders invited Martin and other health-care professionals to join him at a Washington rally to pitch legislation called Medicare for All: a single-payer health-care system that would grant coverage to all Americans with a government-issued ID card.

Martin currently practises as a family doctor at Women’s College Hospital downtown and is an associate professor at the University of Toronto. She said it was her 2014 testimony defending the Canadian health care system before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that initially caught Sanders’ attention. A video of Martin’s powerful testimony, in response to a Republican senator’s criticisms of the Canadian health-care system, went viral and garnered more than a million views online. 

At the rally last month, Sanders noted the current system in the U.S. leaves 28 million Americans without health insurance coverage. 

“In the United States, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation on earth, and yet we have 28 million people without health insurance and even more who are underinsured with high deductibles and co-payments,” said Sanders. 

Speaking with Post City, Martin echoed Sanders’ sentiments that health care should be considered a right and not a privilege. 

“Freedom from financial ruin when you are sick is such a basic need, and it’s key to the economic and social success of every country,” she said. 

As a result of her involvement with Sanders’ campaign, Martin is now on the front lines of what she’s called fear mongering, mainly by the Republican party, concerning Canadian health care.

“I think it’s so important for Canadians to pay attention to health-care debates happening now in the U.S. Given how often Canada comes up, we need to share the facts. We need to be clear about what the evidence has to say about how our system actually performs,” she said.  

Martin said she’s faced many misconceptions about the our health-care system while down south, including claims that it is inferior in some way because it is publicly funded or that Canadians are dying on the streets because of wait-lists. So when she held up her Canadian health-care card for all to see at the rally, she hoped to put those fears to rest. 

“There is lots to be proud of and lots of work still to be done — our system is far from perfect. But where myths are being propagated, we need to set the record straight,” she said.

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