NewsLawyers Seek Original 'Brickers' in Group Health Centre Lawsuit

Lawyers Seek Original ‘Brickers’ in Group Health Centre Lawsuit

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In a bid to preserve the rights of original supporters of the Group Health Centre (GHC) in Sault Ste. Marie, lawyers are on a mission to locate retirees who were instrumental in building the renowned institution. Fondly referred to as ‘brickers,’ these individuals signed up as GHC members in the late 1950s and early 1960s, laying the foundation for the community health organization.

Established in 1963 by thousands of local Steelworkers who each contributed $135, GHC was envisioned as one of Canada’s first union-sponsored community health centers. Members were promised primary and preventative care with no out-of-pocket costs, a commitment that resonated deeply with the community.

However, recent developments have sparked concern among GHC’s original supporters. In January 2024, GHC announced plans to de-roster 10,000 patients, including many ‘brickers,’ due to a severe physician shortage. This decision has left retirees grappling with the loss of access to their primary care providers and GHC’s same-day clinic service, exacerbating the challenges faced in their advanced senior years.

In response to this crisis, Steelworkers Local 2251, representing hourly-rated workers at Algoma Steel, has authorized a lawsuit and court injunction to halt the de-rostering of its members. As preparations for legal action intensify, lawyers are eager to include original ‘brickers’ as plaintiffs in the upcoming lawsuit.

“These individuals are entitled to health care for life as per the original agreement they entered into with GHC,” emphasizes Mike Da Prat, President of Local 2251. “Their contributions to building GHC and their unwavering commitment to the organization deserve recognition and protection.”

The legal team is actively seeking out retirees who were part of GHC’s inception, as well as their surviving spouses, to gather insights into the promises made during the organization’s formative years. These individuals will play a crucial role in shaping the lawsuit and advocating for the restoration of GHC’s founding principles.

“We will ensure that the voices of the original ‘brickers’ are heard loud and clear in the courtroom,” affirms Da Prat. “Together, we will strive to uphold the legacy of GHC and secure the healthcare rights of its founding members.”

As efforts to locate and engage with original supporters intensify, the legal team remains committed to championing the interests of retirees and safeguarding the principles upon which GHC was built. Through collaborative action and unwavering advocacy, they aim to restore governance structures that honor the promises made to GHC’s founding members.

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