Ottawa won’t say if it will honour deadline for...
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Nov 03, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Ottawa won’t say if it will honour deadline for revising refugee health coverage

The federal government has refused to say if and when those refugees stripped of health coverage under the 2012 cutbacks can access health care again

OurWindsor.Ca

Ottawa has refused to say if it will honour a court-ordered deadline and revise its health-care coverage for refugees in light of Friday’s appeal court dismissal of its request to delay the reinstatement.

Immigration officials said they would not comment if and when those refugees who had been stripped of health care under the 2012 cuts can access health care again.

The federal government has until 12:01 a.m. Wednesday to respond to the order originally by Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish, who called the Conservatives’ cuts amounted to “cruel and unusual treatment.” The judge had given Ottawa four months.

On Monday, the government would only issue a statement by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

“Refugees continue to enjoy the same standard of care as Canadians. We’re disappointed with the court’s decision. We’re going to appeal it. We will announce the details of our reaction to that decision shortly,” Alexander said Monday during question period in the Commons.

Provincial health officials said they have yet to receive instructions or any communication from the immigration department about the treatment of refugee patients in light of the court decision.

“Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program left refugee claimants unprotected and put our doctors in an untenable position, forcing them to choose who should be treated,” said Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.

“The federal court’s ruling confirms what we have said all along — our health-care system must reflect the principles of fairness and compassion, providing the right care for those who need it.”

And with the court order, provincial health officials also expect “less confusion” about the administrative process and a faster reimbursement from the federal government because it would return to a single-tier health system and all claims will be reimbursed.

Lawyer Lorne Waldman, who represents the advocacy groups that challenged the government cutbacks, said Ottawa will be at fault if the health coverage is not restored on time.

“They have to have something in place by Wednesday,” said Waldman. “If they do not comply with the court order, we will go to court to enforce the order.”

Ottawa has removed health coverage for failed refugees still awaiting removals from Canada and those who seek asylum from the so-called safe countries designated by the government. These individuals were only allowed to access care if they pose a public health risk.

Toronto Star

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