Hughes Urges Government to Reconsider Healthcare Funding Cuts

Ottawa – If the Conservatives don’t continue to fund basic healthcare for all refugee claimants, the most vulnerable populations will suffer, according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP, Carol Hughes.

Hughes questioned the government during an adjournment debate on funding cuts to healthcare for refugee claimants, which limits access to basic needs like medication.

“What we do know is that some of the most vulnerable people in Canada are likely to suffer significant health risks and different classes of refugee claimants will be created,” said Hughes.  “If the government had conducted consultations, they would know that these cuts will actually lead to increased long term costs as we provide emergency services to people for health issues that likely could have been prevented.”

Hughes was speaking in defence of the Interim Federal Healthcare Program, which was drastically cut last June. The program covered the costs of basic health services for refugee claimants until they were eligible for provincial healthcare or not accepted as refugees. The MP highlighted how the cuts were even being felt in her constituency.

“Mr. Speaker, these cuts have lead to situations like one I have worked on in my constituency where a claimant was actually cut off from dialysis,” said Hughes. “Thankfully, his coverage was reinstated through the good work of my office, but he is on the line for the cost of treatment for the period he was cut-off.”

Hughes cited mounting opposition from stakeholder groups, including healthcare organizations and a recent lawsuit launched by the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers as proof of the limp support for the policy from individuals who work day-to-day with claimants.

 “These cuts put doctors and healthcare professionals in the horrible position where their gut, and their Hippocratic oath tell them to do one thing and government policies designed to attract votes tell them to do something different,” said Hughes.

Hughes concluded that the denying universal healthcare services for refugee claimants represents a major shift in how we treat one of the most vulnerable populations and respect human rights.