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Because of the cuts in previous years, many walk-in clinics, pharmacies and specialists continue to deny services to refugees and refugee claimants based on the false assumption that they are not covered.
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A year ago the first words that came to mind in connection with Canadian refugee policy were restrictions, limitations and exclusion. Today it might instead be generosity, rights and compassion. But it doesn't and absolutely cannot end with 25,000 Syrian refugees arriving by spring and doctors being once again allowed to provide necessary treatment to refugees and refugee claimants. We cannot forget the pressing needs of refugees from other parts of the world. The global refugee population has skyrocketed in recent years, in large part because four million Syrians have fled the country.
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Liberals have promised to bring in 10,000 Syrians by January.
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Some important details are missing.
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While it takes time for a new prime minister to translate campaign rhetoric into effective policies, there are at least five quick-wins that Justin Trudeau can achieve on his very first day in office. All five can be implemented in a few minutes through simple orders-in-council at the cabinet table or by instructing new ministers in their mandate letters. Implementing the full range of changes promised in this last election campaign will take a long time, probably many years. Quick-wins will be important for Trudeau to show Canadians that his Liberal government can bring about the breadth and depth of change for which he was given a majority.
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Lack of healthcare has dire consequences for the well-being of refugees and can also stand in the way of their integration into new environments. For the four-million Syrian refugees living in the neighbouring countries, their access to healthcare has been severely hampered by the funding shortage facing aid agencies.
A year ago we had written to Minister Chris Alexander to apologize for treating a refugee patient. We spoke about how cuts to refugee health care had made seeing a doctor virtually impossible for many new refugees. Were you, Mr. Prime Minister, desperately trying to get the Minister to review the file as well?
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