Memorial University medical students chant in unison during a lunch-hour protest over federal government cuts to refugee health care held today in St. John’s. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
A demonstration held Monday in St. John’s took aim at the federal government’s plan to change health care coverage for refugees.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference that coincided with the protest, family physician Dr. Pauline Duke said the changes will create problems for refugees.
As of now, the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) covers medical needs for refugees during their first 12 months in Canada, allowing them to receive medication for various ailments.
But under changes set to become law on July 1, that coverage will only apply to medical conditions that pose a risk to public health or safety, such as tuberculosis or HIV.
Adriana Castano-Kutty, who came to Canada from Columbia as a refugee along with her two children in 2003, said having the coverage gave her peace of mind at the time of her arrival to the country.
Duke said the coverage is essential for refugees needing eye glasses who may not yet speak English, enhancing their ability to learn the language. She added many refugees suffer from depression as a result of their experiences in countries facing turmoil.
Duke also referred to new refugees as the “poorest of the poor” in Canada, and said they can otherwise not afford most medications.
Approximately a dozen Memorial University medical students took part in the protest.
For more on this story, read Tuesday’s edition of The Telegram.