Keeping Canada Alive (CBC)

Keeping Canada Alive – healthcare with a heart

In Blog, Health, Lifestyle by jennisheppardLeave a Comment


This week I went to an exclusive preview screening of Keeping Canada Alive, an impressive new CBC series documenting 24 hours in the Canadian healthcare system, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland.

Refreshingly, this is not your common fly-on-the-wall hospital doc. Astoundingly, it was all shot in one day by more than 60 camera crews dispatched to different healthcare locations across the country. And with that huge vision, comes huge heart, and a huge point.

Keeping Canada Alive isn’t just about sharing the emotional stories of child heart surgery, or lifechanging rehabilitation. Those narratives are in there and are shot with a candour and access I haven’t seen in a while, but this show has much more to offer.

It’s about the whole spectrum of healthcare in Canada, from coast to coast to coast, its successes…and its challenges.

So we also meet clinic nurses in the remote community of Nain, Labrador. There hasn’t been a doctor stationed there since the 1980s and patients are now examined over video call by a physician hundreds of kilometres away.

In Calgary, we meet an elderly married couple, together for 45 years. He has Alzheimer’s and she is caring for him at home.

“The doctors refer to me as his caregiver,” she says. “I’m his wife. I’m doing what any wife would do.”

At that point, fairly early on, I felt my heart break a little. The medical professional I’d brought with me to the screening was also deeply affected by that storyline. It was great to see this increasingly common, but mostly unacknowledged situation given such prominence.

From an inside perspective, my friend told me she liked seeing not just the patients, but also the medical workers featured in the show. I agree with her. Often, medical staff are forgotten in the triumph of a recovering patient or the tragedy of a lost loved one, when in fact they’re dealing with these kinds of emotional moments every single day.

Keeping Canada Alive reminds us that we’re all part of the healthcare system, as patients, as workers, as carers, as family and by offering us this unique, uplifting window into each other’s worlds, empowers us. This is Canada, we are one country, with one healthcare system, and we’re a team.

We can achieve glorious medical successes and overcome tough medical challenges and ultimately, we should be proud of the fact that we consider healthcare a right, wherever you are, in the True North strong and free.

Keeping Canada Alive premieres Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 9pm on CBC Television.
For extended features and a 24-hour raw video stream, check the website:


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