TORONTO – Health professionals across Canada are protesting planned cuts in refugee health care coverage.
On Monday, physicians, nurses, community health workers and others will demonstrate in 14 cities from Vancouver to St. John’s.
The demonstrations are being held in the hopes of persuading the federal government to reverse course on the changes scheduled to take effect June 30. The participating health care workers believe the changes will lead to poorer health outcomes, increase health care costs and threaten public safety.
“Many health care workers, especially in urban areas throughout Canada, treat refugees on a daily basis,” said Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Toronto’s Women’s College hospital, in a statement. “We listen to their stories of enduring war and violence and being separated from their families. We believe it is inhumane to deny them access to the health care they need to begin their new lives in Canada.”
Proposed changes include no longer covering necessary medications like insulin for many refugees living in Canada, and denying some refugees access to physicians unless their condition is considered a threat to public safety, like tuberculosis. Prenatal care for pregnant women, child care and access to mental health would also be stripped for some refugees.
“We encourage the federal government to listen to reason and act with compassion,” said St. Michael’s Hospital family physician Dr. Gary Bloch in a statement. “Maintaining a healthy community means ensuring all members of the community – including refugees – receive basic, medically necessary care. This is the Canadian way.”
Below is a full list of planned demonstrations across Canada with local times:
• Toronto – 1 p.m. – demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office at 25 St. Clair Avenue East
• Hamilton – 1 p.m. – demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office at 55 Bay Street North
• Kitchener – 5 p.m. – Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. West
• Windsor – 12 p.m. – demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration office, 1250 Walker Road
• Ottawa – 12 p.m. – demonstration on Parliament Hill
• Montreal – 12:30 p.m. – demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office at 1010 St. Antoine Ouest
• Halifax – 12 p.m. – demonstration at Grand Parade
• St. John’s – There will be a press conference held, please check here for updates
• Winnipeg – 12 p.m. – demonstration at the Forks Plaza
• Saskatoon – 12 p.m. – demonstration and parade at Kiwanis Memorial Park
• Calgary -12 p.m. – demonstration at Harry Hays Building at 220 4th Ave SE
• Edmonton – 12 p.m. – demonstration at Canada Place, 9700 Jasper Avenue
• Vancouver – 12 p.m. – demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office at 1148 Hornby Street
• Inuvik – 12:15 p.m. – meet at the Post Office at 187 McKenzie Road
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