Building Solidarity City in Toronto

On February 20, 2013, Toronto City Council passed a motion for an Access Without Fear policy declaring Toronto a ‘sanctuary city’ for all, irrespective of immigration status.

The original motion reads that:

  • City Council re-affirm its commitment to ensuring access to services without fear to immigrants without full status or without full status documents.
  • City Council request the Federal government to establish a regularization program for undocumented residents
  • City Council request the Provincial government to review its policies for Provincially-funded services for undocumented residents with a view to ensuring access to health care, emergency services, community housing and supports for such residents within a social determinants of the health framework.
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    Health Care for Undocumented Migrants: European Approaches

    ABSTRACT: European countries have smaller shares of undocumented migrants than does the United States, but these individuals have substantial needs for medical care and present difficult policy challenges even in countries with universal health insurance systems. Recent European studies show that policies in most countries provide for no more than emergency services for undocumented migrants. Smaller numbers of countries provide more services or allow undocumented migrants who meet certain requirements access to the same range of services as nationals. These experiences show it is possible to improve access to care for undocumented migrants.

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    Refugee health reversal an important step toward coverage for all

    Today we mark an important victory for health and social justice in Canada.

    After years of public pressure and the unprecedented mobilization of health care providers, as of April 1, 2016, the federal government is restoring the refugee health program which was drastically cut in 2012.

    The Conservative government’s cuts left refugees and refugee claimants without access to necessary medical care. On the ground, this meant many pregnant women were denied coverage for prenatal care and delivery, and children were denied coverage for crucial medicines and care.

    As health-care providers, we witnessed the suffering caused by these cuts, which were rightly found to be “cruel and unusual” by the Federal Court. In the wake of these cuts, several provinces rushed to fill the gap by providing provincial coverage for those left behind. The reversal of these cuts shows us that Canada believes in the notion of health care for all people with a truly universal health-care system for everyone.

    While we applaud the government in reversing the cuts made to this program and await the implementation of this reversal, there are still many that are left behind.

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    Statement from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

    “Today, the Government of Canada announced that it will not pursue its appeal in the case of The Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration v. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care et al. The case involves changes made in 2012 to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) for refugees, refugee claimants and claimants who were denied refugee status…”

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    Reverse cuts to refugee health care

    To the relief of millions of Canadians, the mandatory census is back. It took the new Liberal government just one day to reinstitute the detailed profile of the nation the Conservatives chopped five years ago.

    There is a second ill-judged cutback that could be reversed almost as fast: the withdrawal of refugee health benefits. Since 2012, the federal government has denied life-saving medicine, access to emergency care, prosthetic limbs and pre-natal care to asylum-seekers awaiting their hearings.

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    CMA President urges federal government to address refugee health as an “urgent matter”

    Dr. Cindy Forbes, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has written to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to express continued concern with the state of refugee health care in Canada.

    “Canadians have shown their commitment to step up and work with government to help address the current refugee crisis,” said Dr. Forbes in an open letter sent today. “We urge the government to meet this compassionate spirit by ensuring that all refugees regardless of sponsorship category receive appropriate and comprehensive health care coverage.”

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    Health professionals across Canada protest healthcare cuts for refugee claimants


    Healthcare professionals protested Monday in 20 cities across Canada at the Conservative government’s decision to appeal a Federal Court of Canada ruling that found changes to the healthcare system for refugee claimants were unconstitutional. In July 2014, the court found government funding cuts in 2012 to the Interim Federal Health program, which left many refugees with minimal healthcare coverage, were “cruel and unusual”.

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    Clinic launched ‘where care matters more than a (health) card’

    A new health clinic, made possible by volunteers and donors, will care for some of the GTA’s most vulnerable resident — the uninsured and undocumented.The new 2,800-square-foot facility will house a medical clinic, a dental clinic, pediatric services, midwifery and diagnostic imaging programs, chiropractic and massage services, and a foot care clinic all under one roof. It will be run by medical professionals volunteering their time and will serve some of the GTA’s most vulnerable residents — the undocumented and uninsured.

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    Spain to reinstate primary healthcare for illegal immigrants

     Illegal immigrants in Spain will once again be able to get free primary healthcare at doctors’ surgeries, the government said on Tuesday, doing a U-turn on an unpopular policy in a busy election year.

    The government withdrew the right to general healthcare for tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in 2012 as part of a program of spending cuts.

    But the policy was highly criticized by doctors, refugee activists and opposition parties, and, since the ban excluded emergency treatment, has led to pressure on emergency wards.

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    Ottawa spent $1.4M in court to fight for refugee health cuts

    The Conservative government has spent more than $1.4 million so far to fight a court challenge against its refugee health-care cuts, money that critics say would be better spent on saving lives.

    Through a special inquiry by the NDP, Ottawa revealed that the case, which is currently under appeal, has already cost taxpayers at least $1.43 million in legal fees, not including other associated costs.

    “Instead of paying lawyers to keep health care away from refugees, the Conservatives should end this offensive charade, abide by the federal court’s ruling and fully restore the program,” said MP Andrew Cash (Davenport), the New Democrats’ multiculturalism critic.
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