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Stop the cuts to healthcare for refugees in Canada

This petition had 14,268 supporters

On Monday June 18th doctors, nurses and other health care workers all over Canada stood up against the cuts to refugee health care and demanded justice for their patients. In fourteen cities across the nation health care workers rallied against the Conservative governent's plans to cut health care services to refugees. Join them in stating that you do not believe in a Canada that denies health care to its most vulnerable

The Canadian government is planning on making significant cuts to the Interim Federal Health program, which will result in many refugees in Canada losing access to primary health care services and medications to treat their illnesses. Once these cuts take effect on July 1, 2012, refugees will only be covered for health care if it is urgent or essential or is a threat to public health or safety.

The cuts will mean that some refugees will not have coverage for prenatal care or even treatment for a heart attack! Others will be able to receive a diagnosis of diabetes, but no insulin to treat it.

Refugees arrive in Canada having escaped war, persecution or threats on their lives. They often arrive with little or no resources. Some arrive at the invitation of the Canadian government, having had their refugee status approved overseas. Others arrive at Canada’s borders and claim refugee status as is allowed under Canadian law.  

Denying such traumatized and desperate people health care is both cruel and unethical. 

The government says that these cuts are necessary to save Canadian taxpayers money. Yet no health economist would ever argue that denying people primary health care, or medications to treat their illnesses is a cost saver. By denying people access to primary health care and medications, we are ensuring that they will present to hospitals once their conditions deteriorate. Do we really want to wait until a child presents to the emergency department gasping for air rather than give him medication to treat his asthma? 

Another argument that the government is presenting is that these cuts are only “fair” as Canadians do not get medications covered by the federal government. However this argument is misleading as it ignores the fact that many Canadians have extended health care benefits through work or social assistance programs. In fact, the current Interim Federal Health program offers coverage similar to that provided to those on provincial social assistance programs. So refugees are currently receiving no more resources than those at the lowest end of our economic spectrum. After the cuts take effect, they will receive significantly less than even that. 

To deny health care to people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society goes against Canada’s history of a compassionate nation. It diminishes our reputation as a global humanitarian leader.  

Sign the petition to ask Jason Kenny, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to stop the pending changes to the Interim Federal Health program that will deny thousands of refugees in Canada access to primary health care and medications.

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For more information see the following links:


Also see this link to a video about the 59 cent campaign.

Ahmed's Story

Ahmed describes his old life in Baghdad with pride. A small business owner for twenty-two years, he employed four people and was able to provide a comfortable life for his family.


But that life disappeared when a bomb destroyed is home and adjacent business. Everything that he had worked for was gone and his wife of thirty years killed.  With threats to his life continuing, Ahmed fled to Syria where he claimed refugee status. He was eventually offered permanent resettlement in Canada.


In Baghdad doctors told Ahmed that his blood pressure was high and that he had diabetes. He was given medication for these conditions and was told he must take them everyday. He was also given medication in Syria to help him sleep as he still has nightmares about seeing his wife’s body lying in the rubble of their home.


Upon arrival in Canada, refugees like Ahmed have had access to their medications through the Interim Federal Health program. However cuts to this program will now remove this source of funding for medications. Depending on which province Ahmed settles in, he may eventually qualify for provincial supplementary health programs. But what will he do until that happens? How will he afford the medications he needs to avoid the many serious complications like heart or kidney disease that could occur if his conditions are not treated?


Is it fair that the government of Canada invites refugees like Ahmed to resettle in Canada, but then denies them access to medications?





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