NEWS: Kamloops chapter joins national protest against cutting of refugee health-care coverage

The Kamloops Daily News reports, "Protestors are taking to the streets of Kamloops on Tuesday to bring awareness to cuts in refugee health care, which they say flies in the face of Canadian values. 'I don't think a lot of people in Kamloops know what's being done in our name,' said Anita Strong, chair of the Council of Canadians Kamloops chapter. The Interim Federal Health Program used to cover basic health care, dental and vision care, medications and medical devices to refugee claimants until they become eligible for coverage under provincial health care. But under the new government plan, which is due to take effect June 30, some refugee claimants would only be entitled to urgent care and others would be denied all care unless they have a disease that would be a risk to the public, such as tuberculosis. Tests for such diseases would only be covered if results were positive. 'We just think it's atrocious that we can do this to the most vulnerable people who live in our country,' said Strong."

"Strong said several speakers will join the march to bring their expertise to the cause including Rick Turner from the B.C. Health Coalition, Paul Lagace, executive director of Kamloops Immigrant Services, and Dr. Julie Drolet, TRU assistant professor of international social work. The march begins at 2 p.m. at the Smorgasbord Deli on Seventh Avenue and winds its way to Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod's office on Victoria Street. ...McLeod said cutting health coverage to refugees is a question of fairness since it brings them on par with all other Canadians."

"Medical associations across the country are also holding a national day of action today to shine the spotlight on the Conservative government's cutting of refugee health-care coverage. And the heads of eight Canadian medical associations have signed a letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney outlining their concerns." The Toronto Star adds, "On Monday, demonstrations are planned in 10 Canadian cities from St. John’s to Vancouver — and including Toronto — to demand the federal government reverse the cuts, which take effect June 30. In Toronto, a rally will be held at 1 p.m. outside the immigration office on St. Clair Ave. E. ...Monday’s national day of action is endorsed by 15 health-related professional bodies from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to the Canadian Paediatric Society, Canadian Nurses Association and Canadian Association of Social Workers." Council of Canadians health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki will be participating in today's protest in Halifax.

In mid-May, the Toronto Star reported, "A group of physicians briefly occupied a Conservative MP’s office Friday, demanding Ottawa rescind its planned cuts to refugees’ health-care coverage. Outside the office of Joe Oliver, the Tories’ highest ranking member in the GTA, doctors from all disciplines echoed concerns that the denial of health-care access would increase health costs and jeopardize public health. The protest by the 90 Toronto-area physicians was one of many organized by doctors across the country from British Columbia to Newfoundland against the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program that will come into effect June 30."

To read the blog and see the video of that occupation, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15214.