Today, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government announce a controversial list of countries that will determine who does and does not get access to healthcare in this country. This is what the government has facetiously called "public health and safety coverage" illuminating their limited understanding of the field of public health.
As a family doctor working with refugees and refugee claimants, the potential impacts of this policy are horrifying. We will no doubt see individuals left with no choice but to allow their health to worsen before seeking services. It seems to me that this is a lose-lose situation.
Recently, Jason Kenney has proposed drastic changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) -- the program that has allowed many refugees to receive health care. These changes aim to deny access to essential medicines for all refugees and claimants, deny basic healthcare to those deemed to come from a "safe country," and are a poor policy decision.
If Bill C-31, "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act," passes in parliament, Canada will lose its reputation for fairness and human rights and, more importantly, hundreds if not thousands of people's lives will be adversely affected. Refugees would be ineligible to sponsor any immediate family members and these refugees would be second-class people in Canada.