By
Andy Semotiuk

Health Care For Refugees Important, Just Don’t Forget Others

February 19, 2016

government has announced how they will handle health care for refugees going forward:

All refugees and asylum claimants will soon benefit from full health-care coverage through a restored Interim Federal Health Program, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, announced today.

Starting April 1, 2016, the Interim Federal Health Program will provide health-care coverage for all eligible beneficiaries – including basic, supplemental, and prescription drug coverage. Similar to provincial/territorial health-care insurance, the coverage will include hospital and physician services. Coverage for supplemental health-care services, such as vision and urgent dental care, and for prescription drugs, will be similar to what the provinces and territories provide to Canadians who receive social assistance.

Health Care For Refugees And All Canadians

I am in favour of providing everyone in Canada with the best standard of health care possible within the budgetary limits of what the country can afford and in accordance with the principles enshrined in federal health care legislation. In this context, I welcome the news about the extended health care coverage new Syrian refugees will receive. My big concern, however, is that Canadians be treated as well as the newly arriving Syrians.

I have in mind the deplorable conditions of the First Nations, (particularly on reserves), as well as other Canadians including the elderly, the homeless and those who for various reasons live in marginal status in our society. If only we could be as generous to our fellow citizens as we strive to be in welcoming newcomers to this country, we would all be blessed with a health care system everyone can be proud of. But that is not what is happening. What is happening is that – as usual – the underprivileged are being forgotten. Meanwhile, the new arrivals are receiving extra care and attention. This may lead to social discord and resentment.

The captains of this enterprise need to carefully evaluate how they are handling the issue and make sure it is fair to all.

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