Social workers applaud court ruling [refugee health coverage]

Posted on July 15, 2014 in Health Policy Context –
Jul 14, 2014.   Joan MacKenzie Davies

The Ontario Association of Social Workers applauds the recent ruling by the Federal Court of Canada to strike down the Harper government’s policy, instituted in 2012, to deny health care coverage to rejected refugee claimants, and those deemed to be from “safe” countries. It comes as no surprise that the Federal Court refuted the rationale for this deeply flawed government policy on all counts. Despite repeated allegations by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, it is not a cost saving to treat “seriously ill” refugees in emergency departments. There is no evidence that bogus refugee claims have dropped since this policy was put in place; and it defies reason to contend that Canadians have inequitable access to health care as compared to refugees.

False refugee claims are a legitimate concern, but this is the wrong approach to address this concern. The Harper government needs to act upon this ruling and restore health care coverage immediately to this category of refugee. It must resist its repeated pattern of appealing to a higher court to deny services to vulnerable populations.

Joan MacKenzie Davies, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Social Workers

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