A collective of healthcare workers, students and community members known as Hamiltonians for Refugee and Migrant Health are affirming their intention to not comply with cuts to refugee health care that were imposed by the federal government on June 30, 2012. Under the theme, “We refuse to cooperate,” Hamiltonians for Refugee and Migrant Health has invited doctors, nurses, students and allies to join them in a national campaign of non-cooperation on September 29, 2012 at 1pm in Bayfront Park.
We are determined to reject these inhumane and draconian cuts that threaten the health and dignity of migrant communities in our city,” said Dr. Tim O’Shea, an infectious disease specialist in Hamilton.
The cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) are intimately linked to the recent Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, more aptly known as the Refugee Exclusion Act. Under the Act, refugee applicants will effectively be discriminated against based on their country of origin through the creation of a “safe country” list – a list of countries the government believes is unlikely to produce refugees. The Act will disproportionately affect the claims of women fleeing domestic violence, individuals from LGBTQ communities, as well as ethnic minorities who come from countries deemed otherwise “safe” and democratic, but where their specific rights are not upheld. Claimants from these “safe” countries will have reduced access to preventative care and no access to medications. Many groups have denounced the concept that certain countries are universally safe and are urging the government to cease publication of a Designated Countries of Origin list.
“The refugee health cuts will create a system that further discriminates against refugee claimants on the basis of their nationality and will dramatically increase the number of people forced to live underground, without access to essential services,” said Jodi Pipes, a registered nurse, and a volunteer at Refuge clinic.
To date there have been numerous examples of courageous physicians who have gone ahead and provided care, despite the cuts. Recently, the provincial government of Manitoba also announced that it will continue to serve all refugees and will bill the federal government.
“Saturday’s event is about supporting individual acts of non-cooperation, and also to urge the Ontario government to follow the lead of Quebec and Manitoba and step up to the plate in providing care” said Nikki Bozinoff, an event organizer and medical student. “Government cuts to the IFHP threaten the health of our neighbours, friends, and colleagues. We’re coming together Saturday to send the message that denying healthcare to members of our society is not okay.”
For interviews, contact Nikki Bozinoff, 289-7004191, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Katie Dorman, 905-906-6064
More about the event, and Hamiltonians for Migrant and Refugee Health:
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