Refugee health care: This is deadline day for Ottawa’s new policy

posted on November 4, 2014

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

By Susana Mas, CBC News | Link to Article

The federal government has until the end of day today to introduce more inclusive health-care coverage for refugees, after a Federal Court gave the Conservatives four months to draft new policy after overturning changes they made in 2012.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander told the Commons on Monday that he would have some “details” to announce in short order but that providing health care to “failed” refugee claimants was not part of the Conservative government’s repertoire of “basic Canadian values.”

A decision by the Federal Court last July found that changes made by the federal government to refugee health-care funding in 2012 were unconstitutional. The effect of the cuts were deemed “cruel and unusual” and the court gave the government until Nov. 4 to review its policy.

The government asked for a stay until an appeal is heard. But that request was rejected on Friday.

The debate over how much health care should be provided, which has often been acrimonious, came up during question period on Monday as Opposition New Democrats and Liberals pressed Alexander for details about today’s deadline.

NDP MP Andrew Cash said “the minister ignored the protests of doctors, refugee advocates, provinces and parliamentarians, and took health care away from children and pregnant women.”

“Will the minister finally give up his lengthy assault on basic Canadian values?,” Cash said.

Alexander replied “On our side of the House it is not among basic Canadian values to offer health care – often health care that went beyond that provided to Canadians – to those whose immigration and refugee claims have failed, or to those who were deliberately fraudulent in their representations to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

“And we will continue to stand up for the interests of taxpayers in that respect,” Alexander said.

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