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Canadian Health Professionals Hold Demonstrations

Posted on June 18, 2012

Health Professionals Hold Demonstrations Across the Country to Protest Federal Cuts to Health Care for Refugees

 

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - June 18, 2012) - Health professionals opposed to cuts to health care for asylum seekers and refugees are holding a National Day of Action in 14 Canadian cities in hopes of convincing the Harper government to revoke these cuts, scheduled to take effect on June 30, 2012.

Physicians, nurses and other health care workers will take part in a demonstration in front of the offices of Citizenship and Immigration. They fear that these changes, by limiting access to health services and by discriminating based on country of origin, will seriously endanger the health of thousands of vulnerable migrants.

"The people who will be impacted by these cuts are our patients", explains Dr. Marie Munoz. "We see them every day and know how seriously their health is affected by the violence experienced in their country of origin and the often difficult living conditions after arrival. Denying them access to the health care they need to rebuild their lives here in Québec is inhumane", she added.

The federal government has announced its intention to limit its coverage of basic health care for asylum seekers and refugees. For example, the cost of insulin will no longer be covered for diabetic children, even for very low-income families. The situation will be even worse for asylum seekers from certain countries designated by the government, who will have no coverage for medical care, even if urgent or essential, unless they suffer from contagious diseases or other conditions that could impact public health or safety.

For Dr. Camille Gérin, "depriving vulnerable individuals of basic health care is contrary to principles of public health and fundamental human rights. These cuts will place a population that is already vulnerable because of its migratory status at even greater risk. Restricted access to health care will delay treatment and lead to aggravation of health problems, resulting in an increase in both human and financial costs."

The changes to the Interim Federal Health Program by the Conservative government are unfair, discriminatory, backward-looking, and also inefficient and dangerous to the health and safety of all. Subordinating health policies to immigration concerns cannot be rationalized on financial grounds. These cuts jeopardize the life, health and integration of thousands of highly vulnerable migrants who are, and will continue to be, members of our communities.

Health professionals ask the government to revoke these restrictions and to maintain an access to health care that respects human dignity and the right to health.

The professional health associations supporting the national day of action on June 18 include:

Canadian Medical Association / Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada / College of Family Physicians of Canada / Canadian Pharmacists Association / Canadian Nurses Association / Canadian Association of Social Workers / Canadian Association of Optometrists / Canadian Dental Association / Canadian Association of Community Health Centres / Canadian Association of Midwives / Canadian Psychiatric Association / Canadian Paediatric Society / Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Canada / Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care / Canadian Federation of Medical Students / Médecins du Monde / Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec / Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes familiaux / Québec Medical Association / Médecins québécois pour le régime public