Hundreds of Canadian doctors are speaking out against a recent change in Ottawa’s policy that limits health services for refugees.
As people on the front lines of refugee health care, these doctors know that this is a literal matter of life and death for thousands of people.
Many refugees are vulnerable, traumatized, and struggling to survive. The government is unfairly casting them in a negative light by implying that they receive better medical coverage than other Canadians, which is blatantly untrue.
The new plan only allows some refugees access to urgent or public safety medical care; all of them will lose “nonessential,” and prescription drug coverage, including insulin for diabetes.
This plan both denies and intensifies the trauma faced by refugees.
Canada is better than this. We must not prioritize the lives of one group of people over another.
Stand with these doctors protesting the cuts to Refugee Health Care.
We, the undersigned, are opposed to the government’s plan to cut health services to refugees.
Health and immigration ministers, Aglukkaq and Kenney, claim Ottawa is just trying to make benefits equal for all Canadians and that refugees’ current extended benefits are better than those most citizens receive.
However, doctors who work with these refugees, including Dr. Williams and Dr. Mark Tyndall (head of infectious diseases at the Ottawa hospital) say these ministers are misinforming the public and “playing politics.”
Disputing their claims, Williams told HuffPost that “many low-income Canadians receive provincial benefits that allow them to obtain medically necessary services such as eyeglasses or drugs that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford” However, she adds, “Refugees who have no income can't qualify for provincial insurance” and, with the new cuts, they’ll be denied federal help as well.
She and other doctors who oppose the new plan believe it could also jeopardize public health, and Dr. Tyndall, who calls the plan a launch into “an uncontrolled, disastrous, human health experience” believes “Canada is way better than this.”
Dr. Philip Berger (chief of family and community medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto) says he hopes that once “the government sees…the devastating and lethal impact of these cuts, it will do the right thing.”
We believe doctors know more about health needs than politicians do, and their warnings and protests should be taken seriously by Ottawa’s lawmakers. We stand with these doctors on the issue of health care to refugees and ask Ottawa to reject its plan to cut services to this group of vulnerable people.
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