*Printed in the Chronicle Herald on June 17, 2012*
In December 2011, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government announced it would cut funding for public health care by $21 billion to $31 billion, from 2017 to 2024. There was no consultation. And recently, again with no consultation, it announced another drastic and extremely mean-spirited cut to the Interim Federal Health Program — the health-care program for people seeking refugee status in Canada.
This will leave refugee claimants with no medical coverage whatsoever under the IFHP, and no access to provincial health plans either.
Often refugees who arrive in Canada come from the most gruelling situations. Say a woman comes to Canada from Syria or Eritrea, or any country with a similarly appalling human rights record, whose story of persecution is solid and who is extremely likely to be recognized as a refugee once her hearing occurs — she will, as of June 30, be denied medication or treatment for any illness she might have.
This cut is stomping people when they are at their most vulnerable.
Lee Seymour, Chairperson, N.S. Citizens’ Health Care Network