Protest targets refugee health care cuts

Andrew Robinson
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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.

Organizations: The Telegram.Memorial University

Geographic location: Canada, Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Ed
    June 19, 2012 - 19:56

    I believe reducing support costs for immigrants is a reasonable thing given that we are also reducing support for Canadians. I also believe we need to define who is a refugee as opposed to an immigrant. I also find it interesting that many of the protesters who want to influence how we spend our tax dollars seem not to be taxpayers. Seems that university students who are the recipient of many of our tax dollars for their education also want to tell us how to spend the rest. Very interesting indeed.

  • CitIzen
    June 19, 2012 - 18:05

    Wow@ Jeffer after getting home after doing my 12 hour work day and read your comment,no where in my opinion do you read any racist remark,no one ever brought home my drunken ass nor will they. I have my education,do look around and see your own people on the street,how many children out there that were raised with alcoholic parents,most of us were.It stills goes on the kids thatare put on the street by parents,not even our social services will protect them(Springdale St. fire) How many families out there not making near enough to pay their bills,let alone have medical.Sure theirs the Low Drug program.Do you that only covers medication,so if you are on insulin it does not cover needles or testing strips.So before you call me a racist pig or tell me I,m ignorant,take a look around your own Prov. first.

  • Dm
    June 18, 2012 - 18:22

    I am an immigrant and had to go through hell to be in Canada with my Canadian husband! Based on the fact that most refugees are not refugees and we end up supporting people for no reason whatsoever, I absolutely support hese cuts. I also think that unless you come from a country that is having the daylights bombed out of it, you are not a refugee! A battered woman is NOT a refugee! That is ridiculous! A gay person is NOT a refugee! This has to stop! I saw my CANADIAN husband die without care that could have happened in the US but OHIP wouldn't pay for it!

    June 18, 2012 - 18:17

    dr pauline duke refers to these refugees as the poor of the poorest. then maybe she should treat them for free. this doctor as no idea what poor means, go into some of the aboriginal reserves in canada and see for yourself third world conditions. why should refugees who come to canada get free health care while seniors who help built this nation have to pay. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO PROTEST !

    • Katie
      June 23, 2012 - 16:14

      If you believe that doctors decide how much patients pay, then you really need to learn about our healthcare system. Dr. Duke is paid an annual salary by the government and has no way of choosing the amount paid by her patients. As someone who knows her personally, I can assure you that she cares deeply about the conditions aboriginals in this country have had to put up with, but you can only deal with one big issue at a time. Also, seniors have insurance and pensions. Refugees have no way of paying for healthcare because they were forced to flee their country. They didn't really have an opportunity to tie up loose ends and make sure their insurance would cover it. The aid given to refugees now pays for healthcare for their first year so that they can find jobs, so then they can pay for healthcare. Every refugee I have ever met has been a hard-working person, who is thrilled to be in Canada because the conditions are so much better than they've been through before. There is a difference between refugee and immigrant, and the people posting these comments should remember that.

  • jeffer
    June 18, 2012 - 17:36

    You are not cold hearted, Citizen. You are just plain stupid. Refugees come here because they have no choice. They don't come here to cohabitate with a moron like you. They did work in their country. 90% of them worked harder than you and achieved a higher education than you can ever dream of achieving. Unfortunately, there are still way too many racist pigs like you who won't give them an opportunity. so they have to drive your drunken ass around town in a tax, deliver pizza to your house while you watch extreme fishing shows and wash dishes after you polish off 48 wings at your fav redneck restaurant.. You wouldn't last 24 hrs without them. Hope your son's 4 yrs of "colligate" (whatever the hell that is) broadens his mind a bit.

  • another citizen
    June 18, 2012 - 16:54

    Do you even know what a refugee is? Your cold heartedness is nothing compared to your abject ignorance.

  • fgthkjklm
    June 18, 2012 - 14:50

    Nice grammar there, buddy.

  • Zachery Hynes
    June 18, 2012 - 14:32

    There were many more than a dozen Memorial University medical students in attendance! Take a look (and there were more outside the shot!):

  • A citizen
    June 18, 2012 - 14:26

    first of all let me as a Canadian Citizen enter another country and try and get medical coverage.My opinion is if someone from another country enters Canada and claim citizenship or refugee status,they should be able to support theirselves and their families for at least five years without living of our government what so ever.May sound cold ya I am,I worked all my life since the age of. 16,paying my taxes still am after 31 years in the same job,and someone can walk into my country get the same or more then we have worked all our life for,and maybe never worked a day in their life,time for a government to grow a son goes to Colligate in 4 years who pays my sons way not the government I do.Who gets special treatment these New Canadians.not our kids.Ya I am cold hearted.