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Building Solidarity City in Toronto

TorontoStar - SanctuaryCity

On February 20, 2013, Toronto City Council passed a motion for an Access Without Fear policy declaring Toronto a ‘sanctuary city’ for all, irrespective of immigration status. The original motion reads that:

  • City Council re-affirm its commitment to ensuring access to services without fear to immigrants without full status or without full status documents.
  • City Council request the Federal government to establish a regularization program for undocumented residents
  • City Council request the Provincial government to review its policies for Provincially-funded services for undocumented residents with a view to ensuring access to health care, emergency services, community housing and supports for such residents within a social determinants of the health framework.

Council went on to request:
– a review of opportunities to improve access without fear;
– opportunities for City-funded agencies to improve access without fear;
– providing training for front line staff and managers to ensure that undocumented residents can access services without fear; and
– a complaints protocol and a public education strategy to inform Torontonians of the City’s policy.

Toronto’s Solidarity City Network has been organizing long and hard to get to this point. Check out this great graphic that tells people with precarious immigration status that city services should be accessible to them, and the number to call if they are denied services.

Solidarity-City-Poster-791x1024

On May 7, 2013, Toronto City Council passed a motion to accept the recommendations in a Board of Health report which calls on the city to advocate for health for all, irrespective of immigration status. Some key highlights of the motion:

City Council request that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in collaboration with the LHINs:
– increase dedicated provincial funding to community health centres for uninsured residents;
– fund primary care at clinics that currently provide healthcare to uninsured residents
fund essential healthcare services for uninsured children and youth;
– establish a centralized hospital compassionate payment fund
– establish transparent and consistent practices for uninsured patient registration, accounting and cost recovery including elimination of hospital registration fees

City Council request that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in collaboration with the LHINs
– establish a centralised  information source to promote programs and services available to uninsured residents
– establish healthcare facilities as safe environments where immigration status will not be reported to federal authorities.

City Council reaffirm its support to rescind the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program.

City Council reaffirm to the Minister of Health its support for the elimination of the three month wait period for OHIP coverage.