Canadian Health Workers Fighting to Restore Refugee Health Care Cuts

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On June 30, 2012, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration introduced changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), denying basic health care for many refugee claimants and prompting outrage among the Canadian health care community.

The major cuts made include:

  • Refugee claimants no longer have federal coverage for vision care, dental care or prescription medications
  • Refugee claimants from “Designated Country of Origin” (countries Minister has designated as safe) or whose claims have been rejected receive no medical care at all, unless their condition poses a public health risk or security concern for Canadians.

Since this reform has been implemented, the initial concerns over humanitarianism and public health have become a reality and much of this burden has fallen on the individual provinces.  Stories of vulnerable women and children suffering with serious health outcomes have been reported. Patients with medical issues with no source of care have turned to emergency departments, increasing long term costs and exhaustion of resources.

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In response, numerous health care professionals and other advocacy groups have joined forces over the last year. The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have filed a litigation against the cuts in February Release while Canadian authors and other prominent figures have written a declaration calling to “reverse these health cuts and restore our country’s humanitarian tradition of providing care to refugees.” Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the agency spearheading the campaign organized its second annual “National Day of Action” protests across 19 cities on June 17. Minister Kenney called such effort an “irresponsible and shameful attempt to further their unreasonable demands” and has yet responded to any letters or pleads for reconsideration of this unconstitutional, unhealthy reform…

Do you believe these refugee health care cuts should be reversed? Here is what you can do to help!

  • Contact your local Member of Parliament to get your voice heard about the refugee health care cuts.
  • Write a letter to the Minister Kenney at jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca to express your opposition and why these cuts should be reversed.
  • Encourage your professional organization or institution to participate in this campaign to stop the cuts to health care services for refugees
  • Use social media to spread the word and actively follow this issue!
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2 Responses to “Canadian Health Workers Fighting to Restore Refugee Health Care Cuts”

  1. evapurkey Says:

    As a Canadian physician involved in immigrant and refugee care, I agree that this is a super important issue. Not only does it go against Canada’s history of humanitarian values, but it is shortsighted. Refugee claimants will, eventually (at least a proportion) become Canadian citizens, eligible for full public healthcare like all other Canadians. If medical issues not deemed “of risk” to the general public have been left to linger (diabetes, heart disease, mental health problems) these will only become more expensive to treat in the long term. As a Canadian citizen, I am ashamed that our government should cut corners on those who are, arguably, some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Surely providing healthcare to the small number of refugee claimants who arrive at canadian borders seeking asylum each year is not as expensive as many other proposed government policies, such as the introduction of mandatory minimum sentencing which the conservative government proposes and which has been so disastrous south of the border.

    Of note, Minister Kenney has now left the immigration portfolio and is now responsible for Employment and Social Development. My understanding is that Prime Minister Harper considers him a particularly skilled politician able to handle controversial issues (like the above). So watch out all those concerned with employment benefits and such!

  2. Cover Photo Says:

    Cover Photo

    Canadian Health Workers Fighting to Restore Refugee Health Care Cuts | SBFPHC Policy Advocacy

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