Daniel Garcia Rodriguez has experienced some of the best, and worst, that Canada can offer. The best includes St. Michael’s Hospital eye surgeon Dr. David Wong, who saved this Columbian refugee claimant’s vision in an operation largely funded through his own practice and by the hospital. Among the worst is the heartless federal policy that robbed Garcia Rodriguez of medical coverage in the first place.A real black eye on the government with this latest news of the refugee who almost lost vision in one eye due to Mr. Kenney's cuts.
This case puts a human face to the hardship blindly imposed on many asylum seekers by Bill C-31, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s ill-judged effort to get tough with “bogus refugees.”
From a Globe editorial on refugee health care cuts today:
...taking away health-care benefits from people who are waiting for a hearing or an appeal, as he has also done, is not smart public policy. As long as these claimants remain in Canada, the government should pay for their health care – both for humanitarian reasons, and in the interest of Canadians.The two largest dailies in the country smacking the minister on this asinine policy. It's clearly an issue that's not going away, if that's what the Conservatives are banking on.
The decision to restrict the Interim Federal Health Program means that refugee claimants from designated countries are no longer able to receive medical care, except in emergencies. Prescriptions for insulin or heart medication are not covered, pregnant women have no access to prenatal care, and the children of asylum seekers cannot receive immunizations.
Those with heart disease or diabetes will be forced to withstand unnecessary suffering, and many could end up in emergency wards. And those with infectious diseases who cannot afford treatment could put the health of others at risk. While some refugees will receive emergency care if their condition is deemed to be a threat to public health, there is confusion over how this is defined.
“Regular, preventive health care is cheaper and more effective than emergency treatment,” notes Audrey Macklin, a University of Toronto law professor who specializes in immigration. “The federal government may save money, but only by shifting and increasing the health-care cost to the provinces, the hospitals and ultimately the Canadian public.”
Not such a good week for the minister.