The Harper Conservatives are moving to cut temporary health care provided to refugee claimants while they wait for a decision on their claim. This decision is pushing doctors from across the country into action.
The changes would mean that some refugees would only have access to urgent care, and some would have no health care at all, unless they have a disease that could endanger the public at large.
The Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, has said the changes mean that no refugee claimant will get better health care than the average Canadian. Doctors are taking action because some claimants, if cut off from health care, would be cut off from life saving medication, like insulin or heart medication, the kind of medications that refugees are unlikely to be able to afford. Claimants will also lose out on preventive health care, leaving them open to illness while they wait for their claim to be processed. Doctors are concerned that people will die, and a group of nine health care associations is also warning that this plan will cost Canadians more in the end. Either way, the cuts are not worth the cost.
More in tune with what the Conservatives really want from Canada’s immigrants, Dr. Wendell Block told the CBC that people who don’t receive the treatment they need upon their arrival here won’t be able to work once their claim is accepted.
The Canadian Pediatric Society sent out a press release arguing these changes will hurt children and youth as chronic illnesses and developmental problems will not be found until later in life. As Dr. Lindy Samson puts it, “Delays in treatment and services will lead to poorer outcomes and long-term consequences, forcing them to later rely on expensive and publicly-funded health care anyway.”
The CPS wants pregnant women and children to be exempted from the changes.
Canadians have historically been proud of our social democratic tradition of helping those who have less than we have. This action denies that tradition and punishes all refugees coming to Canada. It is meant to target false claimants who might come to the country to get free health care, and continues the Tory policy of assuming the worst of people.
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