The lives of thousands of refugee claimants in Canada are being jeopardized by a federal government policy that is unconstitutional, says a group of doctors and lawyers taking Ottawa to court.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers launched a court challenge Monday, accusing the federal government of violating the charter and international obligations with its decision last year to change health-care coverage for refugee claimants.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney dismissed the claims as “totally ridiculous” and the work of “militant leftists.”
“It’s just part of an ongoing ideological campaign,” Kenney said Monday after Question Period.
“Some of these are hard-core pressure groups and they have an ideological commitment to this and they’ll have their day in court of course. This is a dog-bites-man story.”
Kenney said the changes mostly affect “folks who are basically overstaying in Canada” who have been deemed not to be refugees. True refugees are still covered, he said.
The policy, which still gives most asylum seekers and all “legitimate refugees” health coverage is generous, Kenney said.
“But we have no legal, moral, political obligation to give taxpayer services to bogus asylum seekers, rejected claimants – people who are effectively illegal migrants.”
Up until June 30, 2012, the federal government covered the costs of drugs and medical care – including dentistry and vision care – for refugee claimants until they had been in Canada long enough for provincial coverage to kick in or after their claims had been rejected.
But the government put an end to almost all supplemental health-care benefits, slashing coverage in some cases to care only when it was a public health emergency.
The changes depend on whether the claimant comes from a list of countries that Ottawa has deemed safe and where it is less likely someone will be persecuted.
Refugee claimants from those countries, including Mexico and Hungary, have no coverage for medical services or medications except when there is a public health or public safety concern.So if you're a Roma from Hungary, or you've annoyed some Mexican drug cartel, our Conservative government thinks you're bogus. The only thing I can say in my country's defence is that the Conservatives have a majority government based on 39 percent of the popular vote. Most of us are not the jerks we seem to be.