Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Canadian government punishes refugees to deter “bogus refugees”

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 24, 2012

**UPDATE** – July 3, 2012 — Canadian refugee health cuts “clarified”

This must be Canada’s version of the US’s compassionate conservatism. A new Canadian law under the conservative government that takes effect on June 30 will cut health services to resettled refugees and asylum seekers. The government will still provide basic provincial health coverage, but will take away refugees’ eligibility for drugs, medical devices such as wheelchairs, dental care and vision care. Reason given? That the government must deter bogus refugees, and is under no obligation to provide supplementary benefits that are not available to non-destitute taxpaying Canadians. Never mind that refugees, most of whom are destitute upon arrival to Canada, are coming from places racked by war, ethnic cleansing and tribal violence. Bill C-31 will also allow the government to “detain asylum seekers without judicial oversight and denies applicants from so-called ‘safe’ countries the right to appeal a rejected application. The criteria for determining a ‘safe country’ is entirely up to ministerial discretion, as is the definition of ‘mass arrivals’ of refugees. The new law also allows the government to retroactively designate mass arrivals.” An article at The Toronto Star explains some of this:

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has never made any secret of the purpose of his sweeping reforms to Canada’s Refugee Protection Act. He is determined to deter “bogus refugees.”

This is a legitimate objective. In recent years, wave after wave of migrants who face little danger have tried to get into Canada by claiming a “well-founded fear of persecution.” The most recent surge was Roma migrants from Hungary and the Czech Republic. Before that it was asylum seekers from Mexico.

But one of the provisions of Bill C-31, which takes effect on June 30, is needlessly punitive. Kenney is poised to cut health services to resettled refugees and asylum seekers.

Under his new rules, refugee claimants from countries Ottawa considers safe — Kenney has yet to release the list — will receive health treatment only if their condition poses a public threat. Those from countries racked by war, ethnic cleansing and tribal violence will receive basic provincial health coverage, but lose their eligibility for drugs, medical devices such as wheelchairs, dental care and vision care. Resettled refugees — people who assisted Canadian troops in Afghanistan and were airlifted from refugee camps in strife-torn regions — will also lose supplemental health benefits… Read more here

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