The federal government may have failed to provide medical coverage to a Mexican worker facing cancer, but people in the Red Deer area did not let him down.
A fundraising event held on Nov. 10 at St. Patrick’s Community School featuring traditional food from El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico, raised about $6,000 for Gabriel Yanez-Zuniga, 33, who is supporting three young children and his wife in Red Deer.
“More than the money, I’m really thankful to the people,” said Yanez-Zuniga on Thursday about the words of support he has received from people.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October and was going to have to use savings to pay about $3,500 to have his surgery on Nov. 13.
Yanez-Zuniga came to Canada five years ago as a refugee claimant with an open work permit with his wife and daughter. The couple have since had twins.
Since then, the family’s application for refugee status was denied, making them no longer eligible for health care assistance under the Interim Federal Health Program.
Drastic changes to health coverage for rejected refugees in June meant he could only get diagnosis and treatment for diseases that put the public safety at risk.
Yanez-Zuniga said his doctor expects he will need chemotherapy or radiation, but not much treatment will be required.
His doctor is trying to find out if an Alberta Cancer Centre will be able to assist with the cost of treatment.