Opposition to New Government Policy on Refugee Health Care


A new government policy on refugee health care states that only failed refugee claimants and asylum seekers can access free health care if they have a communicable disease that could bring harm to the rest of Canada.

Judge Anne Mactavish moved to strike down this policy, stating it is “cruel and unusual” treatment, as several life-threatening medical issues are going unacknowledged. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander filed a motion to stay this judgment. 

There are 13 grounds for this appeal, according to the government, including the argument that the judge made several errors of fact. Judge Anne Mactavish’s ruling meant that refugee applicants would gain access to free Canadian health care while awaiting the decision on their case in Canada.

While awaiting the government’s appeal, health care was unobtainable to immigrants of these natures, and the months-long wait on top of the motion to stay means there will be a national scramble to prevent serious health problems among refugees from going untreated.

Lorne Waldman represents the group of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care told CBC News that, “Justice Mactavish in her decision made it clear denial of health coverage is putting people’s lives at risk.” In an official statement, three parties denounced the government’s decision to appeal: Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and Justice for Children and Youth. 

These groups have vowed to oppose the stay proposed by the government, and they hope to soon entitle refugees to the incredible health care coverage Canada is famous for.

When asked about the motion to stay the decision, a spokeswoman for Chris Alexander explained to CBC News that the motion was implemented to protect the needs of “genuine refugees and Canadian taxpayers.” 

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration, follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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