Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, has thrown her support behind Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care (CDRC), the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL), and three refugee patients who have asked the Federal Court to declare the Harper Conservative health cuts to refugee claimants – even children – unconstitutional and illegal.
“This legal challenge argues that the Conservatives’ June, 2012, severe cuts to refugee health care, made without notice or consultation, are inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsand Canada’s international obligations under the UN Refugee Convention,” said May. “We agree that, because of the documented hardships the cuts have already caused, they are also a breach of Canadian tradition and values.”
The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), established in 1957 and run by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, covered basic health care for refugee claimants and refused claimants until they became eligible for provincial health care or were removed from the country. With an Order-in-Council, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has replaced it with a complex and confusing program denying basic and sometimes-life-saving medical care to thousands of vulnerable people.
“There are now refugee claimants who can’t be treated unless their condition poses a public health or security concern,” said Donald Galloway, Citizenship and Immigration Critic for the Green Party. “Yet some of these claimants cannot be removed from Canada, due to a government-issued moratorium on removals to particularly dangerous countries like Afghanistan or Iraq.”
The Green Party believes this policy is not only cruel, but will cost Canada’s Medicare system more money when our already-stressed emergency rooms have to take care of people whose illnesses have been left undiagnosed and untreated for too long.
“The government is withholding diabetes medication and care for pregnant women yet claims that it is only trying to ensure that foreign nationals are not provided with medical care that Canadians have to pay for,” added Galloway. “It is quite appropriate that Minister Kenney’s Order-in-Council be challenged before the Courts.”
The CDRC and CARL distributed a list – compiled by Canadian doctors – of refugee claimants or refused claimants who were denied medical care or medication. Most patients are not identified to protect their privacy.