07 Oct Media Release: Doctors Declare Pier 21 “Closed Until Further Notice”
Photo: Tori Ball
For immediate release ‘
October 7, 2015
Doctors Declare Pier 21 “Closed Until Further Notice”
Health Advocates Protest Cuts to Refugee Care
Halifax, NS – A group of local doctors and the Nova Scotia Health Coalition constructed a 20 foot sign blocking the entrance to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 today. The display by health professionals and advocates is part of a national protest against the federal Conservative cuts to refugee health care. The display read “Closed until further notice: Send complaints to the ballot box”
“I have seen firsthand the impacts of the Conservatives’ cuts” said Tim Holland, a doctor at Halifax’s Refugee Health Clinic. “They have left the most vulnerable people in the country without health care – pregnant mothers, children, people who have fled war and terror have been denied even primary health care.”
The display is part of the National Week of Reckoning (Oct.5th-10th) organized by Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care. During the week, doctors across the country are protesting at Conservative candidates’ campaign offices and calling on Conservative candidates to endorse dropping the federal government’s costly court appeal and rescinding the “cruel and usual” cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFH) before voters go to the polls October 19th.
“We’re here to put the Conservative’s policies on display for what they really are” said James Hutt, Director of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition. “The Conservatives have made it more difficult for refugees to come to Canada and once here, they’re treated like second class-citizens.”
The juxtaposition between Pier 21, the historical point of entry for so many Canadians, and the Conservatives’ treatment of refugees is striking and unsettling, Hutt added. Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 was the gateway to Canada for over 1 million immigrants.
The Federal Conservatives originally changed the Interim Federal Health Program in 2012, which took away health care to many refugees. In 2014, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the changes were “cruel and unusual” and unconstitutional and ordered the Conservatives to restore the program. However, the Conservatives are spending $1.4 million to appeal the ruling.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care has documented many examples of refugees being denied important public health care services. The cuts have also resulted in increased costs to local hospitals and provincial governments while sowing confusion within the health care system. Even after the government was forced to implement a temporary health program for refugees in response to the Federal Court decision, privately sponsored refugees over 18, including individuals from Syria, are still being denied coverage, including for prescription drugs, counselling, dental care and prosthetic limbs.
The Federal Conservatives are the only major party that has not committed to restoring health care for refugees.
For further information:
Nova Scotia Health Coalition
Empower Consulting, for Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care
About the Nova Scotia Health Coalition
Formed in 1996, the Nova Scotia Health Coalition’s goal is to stop the privatization of the public health care system, ensure high levels of care, and create a forum for people and communities to discuss issues in health care.
We are a coalition of local health committees, community groups, organized labour, faith groups, women’s organizations, students, and individuals dedicated to protecting and extending public health care to include services like pharmacare, dental care, long-term care, mental health care and home care.
The Coalition is political but non-partisan and receives no government funding.
Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care
For more information please visit www.doctorsforrefugeecare.ca.