Even right-wing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall thinks it’s wrong.
Recent cuts to the Interim Federal Health program for refugees have led to a storm of criticism by the medical community and provincial politicians across Canada.
While Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defends the cuts, stating excluded refugees will still receive essential care, a man was denied chemotherapy in Saskatchewan under the new rules and doctors are alleging more individuals in need are being turned away.
The Saskatchewan government stepped in and paid for the chemotherapy the Federal government denied. Wall told the National Post “it’s unbelievable that some of the decisions that have been taken federally are having this impact on people who are clearly the most vulnerable, refugees who are obviously fleeing something quite terrible – that’s why they are refugees.”
Saskatchewan is not alone. Quebec has stepped in to fill the gap, and Manitoba has said they will do the same and send the bill to the Federal government.
While Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has been critical of the cuts, she has made no announcement about helping disenfranchised refugees here in Ontario.
It’s not like the saving are enormous. Kenney said it would save the Federal government $100 million over five years – or about $20 million per year. By comparison, the government is willing to spend $9.5 billion on new prisons with an annual increase in operating and maintaining those prisons of $618 million a year.
Even if Ontario were to pick up half the cost of that $20 million tab, it would represent $10 million on a health care budget of $47 billion per year. It’s hardly enough to keep one awake at night.
The health care activist group Health4All is organizing a campaign to urge the Ontario government to step in to fill the void.
That includes a demonstration outside the downtown Toronto Ministry of Health offices (900 Bay St.) on Wednesday, January 23 at 11:30 am.
They are also asking activists to contact the leadership candidates in the race to succeed Dalton McGuinty as Premier of Ontario during what they call “action Wednesdays.”
The group has also posted a petition here.
For more information, go to http://health4all.ca/