Ottawa ignores rule of law in refugee health cuts case

The Harper government’s recent decision to continue denying health care benefits to certain groups of refugees is deeply problematic not only because it means vulnerable people in this country will continue to suffer, and possibly die.

All Canadians — regardless of their views on refugee health care — should also be deeply alarmed by the fact that this week our government chose to blatantly ignore an explicit court order. This type of action cuts directly against the rule of law, one of the most fundamental principles in any democracy. Canadians need to know that this has happened. And they need to care.

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Reinstating Access to Health Care for Refugee Claimants

Ontario is joining other provinces by reinstating access to essential and urgent health care for refugee claimants through the new Ontario Temporary Health Program, and will send the federal government the bill to pay for the program.

Last year, the federal government abdicated its responsibility to provide basic care for many refugee claimants by changing the refugee application process in Canada and cutting the Interim Federal Health Program.

Through the temporary provincial program, refugee claimants who are not eligible for health care under the new federal rules or through other government programs will be able to access most primary care and urgent hospital services, as well as medication coverage. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the program will help reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and stress on health providers by providing vulnerable refugee claimants with basic health care services as soon as a health issue surfaces.

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Medically Uninsured Residents in Toronto

This report describes groups that do not have access to OHIP funded healthcare and identifies their priority health \ needs, including obstetrical, newborn care and mental health. Children have unique and essential health needs that impact on their health in the short and long-term. Healthcare practitioners and agencies have developed a limited system to serve the uninsured population. At present, the demand for this care exceeds the capacity of the services available and few healthcare agencies receive dedicated funding to treat uninsured residents. The current healthcare system does not provide adequate access to essential healthcare services for uninsured residents.

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Seeking Solutions Symposium: Access to Health Care for the Uninsured in Canada

On February 21, 2012, the Women’s College Hospital Network on Uninsured Clients, in collaboration with Sick Kids Hospital, organized its second conference on healthcare for undocumented and uninsured residents of Canada: Seeking Solutions Symposium: Access to Health Care for the Uninsured in Canada. This report describes the first day of a two-day program; the second day of the Symposium focused on maternal and child health and is described elsewhere.

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The Global City: Newcomer Health in Toronto

Newcomers to Toronto bring many strengths and assets that make our city vibrant and prosperous. These include good health, education, professional experience and skills, cultural diversity and new and innovative perspectives. However, many newcomers face challenges to their health as they establish themselves in Toronto and embark on their journey towards successful integration into Canadian society. The Global City: Newcomer Health in Toronto describes the ―health advantage‖ that most newcomers bring to Toronto, the decline in their health over time and the need to reexamine and strengthen our efforts to support newcomers, especially those whose health risks are compounded by their income level, gender, immigration status, ethno-racial background, sexual orientation or other factors.

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Qualitative Research Project on Health-Care Access for the Uninsured

The Research Committee of the Women’s College Hospital Network on Uninsured Clients set out to capture the richness of experience and knowledge held by the network’s members. This research project documented these experiences in order to help members share and learn from each other’s unique experiences and knowledge. Twenty‐four interviews were conducted with members of the network. These interviews were then transcribed, coded and analyzed, and central themes were identified and are outlined in this report.

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