Refugee health care case not likely to be decided until after election

The question of whether the federal government is obliged to pay all health care costs for anyone who seeks asylum in Canada is unlikely to be answered before this fall’s federal election.

OTTAWA — The question of whether the federal government is obliged to pay all health care costs for anyone who seeks asylum in Canada is unlikely to be answered before this fall’s federal election.

The Conservative government is currently appealing a Federal Court ruling that found the changes they had made to the health care system for refugee claimants were unconstitutional.

Lawyers for refugee claimants say that case is not scheduled to be heard until after the Oct. 19 vote, though in the meantime the government has been forced to reinstate some of the benefits in order to comply with the court ruling.

But doctors and refugee advocates taking part in a cross-Canada protest Monday say the current system still doesn’t meet the requirements laid out by the Federal Court last year.

The changes weren’t reversed for all refugee claimants, only children and pregnant women, they argue. Even they struggle with a system that’s so confusing, not even providers are certain what is and isn’t covered.

“The zeal in which this government is attacking refugees is not only shameful, but it is illogical,” said Dr. Doug Gruner, a spokesperson for Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care.

“It is a policy and position borne out of ignorance and arrogance.”

Prior to 2012, anyone awaiting a refugee status decision had their health care costs — including dental, eye care and medications — paid for by the federal government until their application was decided and provincial health coverage kicked in.

But in June that year, the Conservative government drastically scaled back the available coverage.

At the time, the government said costs from the program were spiralling out of control because people were coming to Canada to make false refugee claims specifically to get free health care.

A group of doctors and refugee claimants took the government to court, arguing the move violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Federal Court Justice Anne Mctavish agreed, calling the changes “cruel and unusual.”

Both the New Democrats and Liberals say if they form government in October, they would drop the appeal and reinstate the program to its pre-2012 structure.

Just Posted

Man accused of murder is back behind bars

Quentin Lee Strawberry charged with second-degree murder in April now charged with attempted murder

Red Deer man sentenced to 60 days for assaulting girlfriend’s father

Linden Buffalo was convicted of aggravated assault in May

Two people die in Highway 11 crash

RCMP continue to investigate

Aboriginal developer won’t pay for a Lacombe County permit, is contemplating a Supreme Court fight

A judge refuses Joseph Fromhold’s late request to appeal a ‘cease operations’ order

Your community calendar

Tuesday The Central Alberta Council on Aging will hold its Christmas General… Continue reading

Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane says Canadian economy resilient

OTTAWA — The Canadian economy remains resilient despite the global uncertainty caused… Continue reading

Federal regulator approves expanded Kitimat LNG gas export licence

CALGARY — An application from Chevron Canada for a 40-year licence to… Continue reading

CIBC, TD close bleak Q4 earning season with lower profit, higher loss provisions

TORONTO — Canada’s banking sector closed out its fourth-quarter earnings season Thursday… Continue reading

Hagel flourishing in early days of pro hockey

Former Rebel has 11 points in 20 games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs

Vaping backlash: Nova Scotia bans flavoured e-cigarettes, Ontario mulls the same

HALIFAX — A nationwide clamp down on vaping continued Thursday as Nova… Continue reading

More than 200 patients died waiting for organ transplants in 2018: report

Wait times for organ transplants continue to cost patients their lives across… Continue reading

MAP: Red Deer Open Houses for Dec. 7-8

Plan your open house viewings with the attached map of listings in… Continue reading

Most Read