doctors vs jason kenney: the fight continues

The Harper Government continues to scapegoat the most vulnerable among us, demonizing refugee claimants, denying them due process, forcing them out of Canada.

Yesterday we heard that four people arrested at the border were part of a human smuggling ring. Peter Showler, director of the Refugee Forum at the University of Ottawa and the former head of the IRB, says:
What we are looking at here is people who may very well be valid refugee claimants who will be in jail for more than six months; people who may very well be victims of discrimination, if not persecution, and they will have to prove those refugee claims while they are in prison.
If these four people are victims of human smuggling, and they have managed to make their way to Canada, Canada should be protecting them, not persecuting them.

Those refugee claimants already living in Canada are having an increasingly difficult time. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care continues to document an increasing number of refugee claimants entitled to Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage who are being denied health care. They say that ministerial mismanagement has caused dozens of IFHP-eligible claimants to go without care, as doctors are unable to decipher the impenetrable web of rules and grids established by the Ministry.

Every single one of these cases has been verified. The government's response? They've accused the doctors of "purposefully altering" the facts of the cases.

Between the Harper Government and a group of doctors fighting for health care for refugee claimants, who do you think is lying?

Here's a sample of the cases the doctors have documented, in which IFHP-entitled refugee claimants have been refused coverage and care:

• A young child from Africa with a high fever but has no health insurance because his IFHP has not been activated

• A woman in her third trimester of pregnancy develops pre-eclampsia, a potentially lethal disease, but has no coverage to treat her condition

• A man with a rectal mass is turned away from care a multitude of times although he should have health insurance according to the government's own policy

• A young child from Africa could not get a chest X-ray after her IFHP was issued but there was a delay in its implementation. She eventually was found to have pneumonia

• A man is scheduled for surgery for a kidney stone causing an enlarged kidney but may have to cancel the surgery as he waits over two months for renewal of his coverage

• Two young children with multiple hospitalizations for asthma cannot get access to their inhalers leaving them at risk for seeking out care through emergency departments

• A woman missed her opportunity to get prenatal screening because she awaits the initiation of IFHP coverage. The baby will be a Canadian citizen.

This list is expected to grow exponentially after December 15, when the government will announce its list of so-called designated safe countries. Refugee claimants from any country on that list will be fast-tracked and shipped out, without the due process that Canada has a legal obligation to give. Dr. Philip Berger, Chief of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, says:
Refugee claimants are not tourists or illegal immigrants. They are people seeking refuge and safety in Canada; they are here legally, within our borders, doing what they are supposed to be doing. Many will become Canadian citizens. The federal government should rescind the cuts and continue Canada's historical and ethical tradition of caring for refugees.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has joined the growing number of voices denouncing these cuts as an affront to Canadian values. The recently publicized case of a man denied access to chemotherapy is not an isolated incident.

Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women's College Hospital says:
The number of cases we have seen of patients needing access to, but denied care will be multiples higher after December 15th. After that date Canada will be telling some of the most vulnerable people in the world that they are not worthy of basic health care, including for refugees who have heart attacks and pregnant women refugees and their children.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care is calling on the Harper Government to suspend these health-care cuts and "find a better and more Canadian way to achieve the government's goal of equity and at the same time protect the health of refugees". They have submitted detailed proposals on how this might be achieved.

To date, Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care has received no direct response to its proposal.

Earlier wmtc coverage:

manitoba to defy jason kenney, cover refugee health care

teen arrested for asking kenney about refugee health care cuts

canadian health care professionals continue to speak out for refugee health care

canadian health care professionals stand up for refugee health care

59 cents campaign: stand up for health care for refugees

harper and kenney's refugee healthcare changes are based on lies - and people will die

canadian doctors protest cuts to refugee health care

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