OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says the government will comply with a court ruling that set today as a deadline to create a new refugee health care program.
But as the government also intends to keep fighting the original Federal Court decision on the program, the measures set to be announced later today may end up being temporary.
The Federal Court ruled in July that the interim federal health program for refugee claimants put in place after 2012 was unconstitutional.
The program drastically scaled back the coverage available to people waiting for a decision on their refugee status, which the court found put lives at risk.
The government was given four months to implement a new program and on Friday, lost their appeal for more time.
Refugee advocates say it would be simple to go back to the pre-2012 system but the government has argued since that program no longer exists, it’s not that easy.
In a statement on Twitter, Alexander said clarity will be provided for those seeking access to the interim federal health program.
“Our focus will continue to be providing access to resettled refugees and successful asylum claimants,” he wrote.
Liberal Immigration critic John McCallum told a news conference Tuesday that the government has no choice but to comply or risk being found in contempt of court.
“We believe that this was a mean-spirited, un-Canadian move to deprive refugee applicants of basic health care and now the courts have come to that same conclusion,” he said.