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Peruvian woman on verge of giving birth still hasn't seen doctor

06/26/2015 10:47 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
A pregnant Peruvian woman on the verge of giving birth in Gatineau says she still hasn't seen a doctor because she can't get Quebec health insurance.

Rosa Callalli, 35, came to Canada from Peru in 2008 to work as a live-in nanny in Ottawa on a temporary work permit. She also had to fight for Ontario health care coverage when she was pregnant with her first child in 2013.

That same year, Callalli and her husband moved to Quebec. She had her visa extended to 2017 and changed to an "open work visa" rather than a temporary one.

'So stressful'

Four months into her most recent pregnancy, Callalli told CBC News that she was still without health coverage, despite paying health premiums in Quebec. Now, with only a few weeks left before she gives birth to her second child, Callalli says she's flummoxed by the fact she hasn't been able to see a physician.

"It's been so stressful. I'm exhausted," said Callalli. "What if something happens to me?"

Gaps in Quebec law

Callalli is a victim of a gap in Quebec law because her work permit is now open-ended, said immigration lawyer Jason Benovoy.

"The assumption is someone with an open work permit that is not tied to a specific employer might not be working and might not be contributing through their taxes to healthcare," Benovoy said.

Callalli, however, says she's been working steady and paying income taxes. She says she's spent the last six months providing pay stubs and letters from her employer to various Quebec health officials in an attempt to prove she has a steady job.

A spokesperson for the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec said privacy reasons prevent the agency from commenting on Callalli's case. 

After Callalli spoke to CBC News during her first pregnancy in Ontario, the office of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne stepped in and helped Callali get a new health card.

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