Canadian doctors protest cuts to refugees health care

Canadian doctors are rallying against cuts to refugee health care and calling on the federal government to drop its “costly” appeal of a Federal Court ruling that deemed the cutbacks “cruel and unusual.”

Canadian doctors protest cuts to refugees health care

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Canadian doctors and activists held demonstrations in at least 20 cities Monday to protest refugee health care cuts.

Labeled as the “largest Day of Action yet”, the protests included physicians and activists from coast to coast, in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, as well as Vancouver, St. John’s, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax.

Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care also wants the federal government to drop its appeal of a 2014 Federal Court ruling that said cuts to the program, under which refugee claimants receive free vision and dental care and drug coverage, are unconstitutional.

The Conservative government made the cuts to refugee health care under the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program in 2012, changing the policy to allow those from “safe countries” only to get care if they posed a public health risk, CTV News reported.

Claimants and doctors took the government to court and won the 2014 ruling, but since then the Conservatives have spent $1 million appealing the decision.

The government did relent somewhat and set up a program to cover pregnant refugees and children but critics said the cuts are still unfair because coverage depends on from what country a refugee came. As well, the drug coverage is still restricted.

“The government’s ongoing intransigence means the fight for full reversal of the IFH cuts continues,” Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care said in a news release.

Dr. Meb Rashid, co-chair of the organization, said it was wrong to deprive refugees of health care and to waste more than $1 million on an appeal.

“Many Canadians will find it appalling to know the Conservative government is spending $1.4 million dollars in legal fees to deny health coverage to a vulnerable population rather than using that money in the most efficient and compassionate manner, which would be to simply provide important health services to refugees,” he said in a statement on the group’s website.

Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care called the cuts “cruel and unusual” and said it has documented “many examples of refugees being denied important public health care services.”

The doctors said they have a lot of support, including more than 20 national health care organizations, all provincial premiers, legal experts, artists, faith-based groups, student organizations and average Canadians.

The organization also wrote a letter to U2 member Bono, who is meeting Monday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and government opposition leaders to discuss health care projects.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Haziran 2015, 09:58