Healthcare workers demand Ontario government fill gap left by federal refugee health cuts
TORONTO, January 23 2013
On the eve of the Liberal Leadership Convention, healthcare workers and community members are demanding the Ontario government step up to fill the gap left by federal cuts to refugee healthcare. At 12:00 PM, in front of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (900 Bay Street), healthcare workers will deliver a petition of over 1000 signatures via stretcher to symbolize increasing numbers of ill and untreated refugees in Ontario, on the provincial government’s watch.
“Since the cuts took effect on July 1st of this year, volunteer clinics have been overwhelmed with refugee claimants who have been refused care elsewhere,” said Ritika Goel, a family physician and Health for All organizer. “These clinics are not a sustainable solution, but rather a band-aid measure by a few dedicated healthcare providers. It is only a matter of time before someone dies if the province doesn’t step up and fill the gap.”
In the wake of the cuts, the province of Quebec indicated they would provide health care coverage for refugees. The province of Manitoba has said they would do the same and send the bill to the federal government. Saskatchewan has called for a review of the cuts and provided chemotherapy for a dying man. In Ontario, Minister of Health Deb Matthews issued a statement condemning the cuts saying, “In effect, this policy change will create a class system for health care in Canada.” To date however, there has been no movement on the part of the Ontario government to concretely address these cuts.
“Over 1000 frontline healthcare workers and community members have signed petitions calling on Ontario to fill the gap,” said Goel. “There is widespread support for this issue in Ontario and yet the provincial government has been silent. If Manitoba and Quebec can make a commitment to provide healthcare for refugees, why can’t Ontario?”