NEWS: Harper's cuts to refugee health care challenged in Federal Court

The Canadian Press reports, "A group of doctors and lawyers is taking the federal government to court over cuts to health care for refugee claimants. They're asking the Federal Court for a judicial review of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's decision and say the court should declare the cuts unconstitutional. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers say the cuts deny basic, emergency and life-saving medical care to thousands of refugee claimants lawfully seeking protection here."

"Three people affected by the cuts are also part of the court challenge, including Hanif Ayubi - a man from Afghanistan whose refugee claim was rejected. Ayubi, who cannot be sent home because there is a moratorium on removals to that country, now can't get insulin for his Type 1 diabetes."

The article explains, "Up until June 30, 2012, the federal government covered the costs of drugs and medical care for refugee claimants until they had been in Canada long enough for provincial coverage to kick in. But the government put an end to almost all supplemental health-care benefits, slashing coverage in most cases to care only when it was a public health emergency."

The Postmedia News article adds, "Dr. Philip Berger, a founding member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and chief of family medicine at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, said the cuts have had ‘punishing consequences’ on refugee claimants and their families. Berger said his group has documented an escalating number of patients that have been denied care, including pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. 'We predicted there would be consequences, and now it’s no longer theoretical.' He also alleged mismanagement of the program has caused ‘dozens’ of refugee claimants who are still eligible for IFHP coverage to nonetheless go without care."

And Global News notes, "Lawyers forwarding the case say they expect the case to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada."

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. Health care campaigner Adrienne Silnicki has commented, "These cuts include access to vision care, dental care, prescription drugs and mobility devices for all refugees. For many refugees it also includes restrictions on primary and basic health care. This includes medical assistance during emergencies like heart attacks and even during child birth." Chairperson Maude Barlow adds, "The cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program have deprived claimants of basic and emergency health care, a move that front-line health care workers call cruel and inhumane."

For more, please read:
NEWS: Manitoba to counter Harper cuts to health care for refugees
4 Days Before the Shameful Cuts to Health Care for Refugees
NEWS: Kamloops chapter joins national protest against cutting of refugee health-care coverage
VIDEO: Physicians occupy Joe Oliver’s office to protest cuts to health-care coverage for refugees