I grew up in South Portland. I’ve lived in Canada for the last 11 years, and now that I’m about to turn 30, I’m thinking about where I want to be – the city I currently live in, Toronto, is notoriously expensive, and the pace of life here feels punishing.

So I’ve been thinking more and more of coming home. My family is still there, and Portland and South Portland have everything I want – community, synagogues, growing cultural diversity, a quieter pace of life. I’d go back in a heartbeat but for one thing: health care.

One thing Canada has that Maine does not is universal health care. In Ontario, we never have to worry about premiums or co-pays; we don’t think twice about going to the clinic.

The summer before I left for Canada, I worked on the Maine People’s Alliance campaign for universal health care. I am still extremely proud of that work, and believe that health care is a right for everyone, not a commodity to be purchased by only the wealthy and struggled for by the rest. I’m saddened that Maine has not yet managed to achieve this goal.

My partner and I are young and hardworking, and we want to contribute to whatever community we end up in. I would really like that to be Maine. But health care remains our obstacle. Given the number of op-eds I’ve read over the years about Maine’s brain drain and aging population, and the exaltation that occurs when young people arrive or return to make their lives in Maine, I am hoping that this letter presents evidence of opportunity to Maine’s lobbyists and lawmakers.

I want to come home. To our elected representatives: Please make it possible for me to do so.

Ilana Newman


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