Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish ruled that Ottawa must restore the cuts it made to funding health care for people with rejected refugee claims. Mactavish called the funding cuts, which were made two years ago, “cruel and unusual treatment,” besides ruling them to be unconstitutional. She said the cuts were shocking were an outrage on “our standards of decency.”
The cuts were expected to save $80 million in four years and involved refusing medical care to the rejected claimants unless they had contagious diseases.
The government shrugged off the lack of compassion and said the claimants could go to the ER, buy private insurance or depend on charity.
However, ER offers no solution. The patient, without a health-care card, needs to pay the bill somehow and most claimants aren’t in any financial position to obtain private insurance.
They can barely find work in the immigration limbo where they live and even if they did it would be in some very low-paying jobs, like the dishwasher from Afghanistan who earned $10,000 per year and had been refused insulin for his diabetes.
One could understand the government’s concern about rejected refugee claimants abusing the system. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said that rejected claimants from “safe countries like the US or Europe should not be entitled to better health care than Canadians.”
However, the claimants were not getting better health care. They were getting the same care Canadians receive; no one was pushing them to the head of a queue while Canadian citizens waited in anguish.
While it’s true that refugee claims from safe countries should not drain our health-care system, however the solution lies in getting their cases resolved quickly instead of denying them potentially life-saving health care while they are here.
There is a need to overhaul the system for assessing claims to ensure these are expedited, but if someone requires medical attention while waiting for their claim to be settled, the most basic tenets of humanitarianism require that they should receive medical care.
Source: Calgary Herald