Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Calling foul on Harper's refugee health policy

  • Print

The Harper government was wrong in 2012 when it cut health care for refugees. It will be wrong again if it appeals last week's Federal Court decision that correctly ruled the cuts are "cruel and unusual treatment" and a violation of the human rights of refugee claimants.

Justice Anne Mactavish wrote: "With the 2012 changes to the Interim Federal Health Program, the executive branch of the Canadian government has intentionally set out to make the lives of these disadvantaged individuals even more difficult than they already are in an effort to force those who have sought the protection of this country to leave Canada more quickly, and to deter others from coming here."

Further, Mactavish ruled, the current policy carves refugees into two categories, those from countries the government agrees are dangerous and those from countries the government deems safe. So, one mother needing prenatal care would get it, while another from a "safe" country would not.

Lawyers for refugee claimants documented 40 cases in which they showed claimants' health had been put at risk. A Colombian man was denied an operation after his retina detached. A claimant from Afghanistan, who could not be deported due to a moratorium on deportations, was denied insulin for his diabetes.

Dr. Phillip Berger, a member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, called the cuts "devastating." He said: "For more than two years now, doctors across Canada have seen these cuts place the pregnancies of refugee women at serious risk, cause denial of treatment for sick children, and deprive refugees with cancer of coverage for chemotherapy." Is this the kind of Canada most of us want?

As a justification for the cuts, the Harper government said it would save $100 million over five years. Even that doesn't stand up under scrutiny. At Toronto's Sick Kids, which gets more than its share of refugee patients, the cost of treating them over 12 months has been pegged at $130,000.

Fortunately, Ontario and five other provinces stepped in where Ottawa would not and are providing essential and urgent coverage for claimants through a temporary program. Had they not done so, it is almost certain someone alive today would not be. The Harper government's cuts amount to downloading costs and responsibilities from one level of government to the one below it. Good on the provinces for stepping in. Shame on Ottawa.

The cuts are not just inhumane. They are penny-wise and pound-foolish. The man denied insulin will get more seriously ill, and could require hospitalization and acute care, which will end up costing more than if he had received the drug to start with.

The Harper government should not appeal this court decision. It should scrap the cuts.

 

-- The Hamilton Spectator

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2014 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for this week - December 8-12

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on the Jets so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google