Statement on the Denial of Health Services on the Basis of Immigration Status
February 12, 2019
Greetings to all!
Let me start by citing two cases:
Case #1: A female temporary foreign worker loses her employer after a year, is unable to find another job, and ends up losing her status. She suddenly develops profuse vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy and is rushed to Emergency. She is diagnosed as Threatened Abortion, and is referred to Obstetrics. However, Obstetrics would not see her as she had no health coverage, and instead discharges her. She comes back to next day with an advocate who convinces Obstetrics to treat her.
They did, but too late. She loses the baby.
Case #2: A refugee comes to British Columbia directly from his country with 3 minor children. He and the 3 children are granted political asylum but are only covered for emergency health care. For the period of nearly 12 months needed for this refugee to get settled, find a job, and finally get reasonable health coverage, his 3 minor children are virtually prohibited from getting sick.
Health is a basic human right. It is related to the essential right to life. Why does Canada have to be selective about whom to give health services to? Are immigrant workers and refugees less human than the Canadian citizen? Canada only provides health support for as long as the migrant is able to work. It does not give a hoot about them when they are not able to, for one reason or another. Countless migrant workers in Canada’s present guest worker programs, as well as refugees, have undergone much suffering due to these health policies – policies that are discriminatory and racist. This is unacceptable.
This belies the claim of the Canadian State that Canada is a strong defender of human rights.
There is a need for all of us to stand up for the basic rights of these affected migrant workers. For our part, the Filipino community here in Vancouver have decided to put up a support institution to assist these migrant workers. The Damayan Foundation for Migrant Education and Resources, otherwise known as “Damayan BC”, aims to support migrant workers and refugees of all nationalities in their struggle to stay health and well. This newly registered institution will be setting up shop soon. It is our small contribution to the concerted effort to reform Canada’s health policies.
It is the work force that builds Canada, and migrant workers, temporary workers, and refugees make up a very large part of that work force. It is only just that Canada gives them the same health services it provides its citizens.
And on this, we stand with you.