Thursday, 26 March 2020

UPDATE: Current Government Responses to Access to Health During COVID-19

English is below

Comunidad La Vida es Lucha


El Colectivo Santuario ha mantenido conversaciones con el gobierno provincial de BC para buscarle solucion a las demandas de acceso a la salud de las personas con estatus migratorio precario o sin estatus.

Estas son algunas preguntas con respuestas respecto a como se respondera con el acceso a atencion medica durante esta epoca de pandemia de COVID-19.  Estasrespuestas fueron tomadas directamente del sitio web del gobierno, por lo quetodavía estamos aprendiendo cómo se implementarán. Haremos todo lo posible paraactualizar a medida que aprendamos más.

Le informaremos en cuanto tengamos mas avances en la lucha por el acceso a la salud para todxs.

1.-Que pasa si mi permiso temporal ya no es válido y ya no califico para tener seguro médico (Medical Service Plan - MSP)?


Como respuesta a la crisis del COVID-19 las personas que viven en British Columbia y que estaban cubiertas previamente por MSP pero su MSP ya no es válido tendrán cobertura temporal.
Las personas deben contactar al seugro médico de BC (Health Insurance BC) para solicitar la cobertura temporal. [El gobierno ha confirmado que esto solo se aplica a aquellos cuya cobertura expira está relacionada con la crisis actual].


Health Insurance BC
LLama sin costo: 1 800 663-7100 Si vives en el Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151
Dirección de correo: Health Insurance BC PO Box 9035 Stn Prov Gov Victoria, BC V8W 9E3

Esto incluye a las personas que han aplicado por un nuevo permiso de trabajo ó de estudio y que aún lo han recibido.


2.-Que pasa si no soy eligible para la BC MSP y pienso que tengo COVID-19, tengo que pagar por mi tratamiento.?


Si se le ha informado o considera que es necesario buscar atencion medica professional por los sintomas relacionados con COVID-19 y no tiene coverture de Seguro privado, se le puede proporcionar cobertura de atencion medica MSP a usted y a los miembros de su familia.

En respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19 las personas que viven en la provincia de BC quienes no son elegibles para la cobertura de MSP o tarjeta medica, recibiran cobertura de atencion medica asegurada provincialmente para casos con servicios relacionados con casos sospechosos o confirmados de infeccion de COVID-19. Tomar nota que affeciones no relacionadas con COVID-19 permaneceran sin Seguro.

El medico o especialsita que le trate sera el responsible de determiner su elegibilidad para esta cobertura.

3.-Que pasa si soy un trabajador temporal que ha venida a la provincial de BC para trabajar durante la pandemia de COVID-19 y no puedo accesar coverture privada, podria ser asegurado por el MSP?


Los trabajadores temporales en BC con un permiso de menos de 6 meses que de otro modo no serian elegibles para la cobertura del MSP, recibiran cobertura temporal de MSP hasta el 31 de Julio del 2020 o hasta cuando expire su permiso, lo que suceda antes.

Las personas deben contactarse con Health Insurance BC para solicitar la cobertura temporal
Health Insurance BC
LLama sin costo: 1 800 663-7100 Si vives en el Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151
Dirección de correo: Health Insurance BC PO Box 9035 Stn Prov Gov Victoria, BC V8W 9E3

4.-Medical Services Plan - Renuncia al período de espera

El período de espera de tres meses del MSP no se aplicará a las personas elegibles a partir del 1 de marzo de 2020. 
 
Sanctuary Health has been talking to the provincial government of BC to ask for a solution to the demands for access to health of people with precarious immigration status or without status.

Here are some questions with the government's current answers as to how access to medical attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. These answers are taken directly from the government website, so we are still learning how they will be implemented. We will do our best to update as we learn more.

We will inform you as soon as we have more progress in the fight for access to health for all. Click this link for the latest information from the government: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents/msp-covid-19-response

 

What if my temporary permits have expired and I no longer have MSP coverage?


In response to COVID-19, individuals who are currently in B.C., who were previously enrolled in MSP as a deemed resident, and their MSP has expired, may be provided temporary MSP coverage.
Individuals should contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage. [The government has confirmed that this only applies to those who's coverage expiring is connected to the current crisis.]


Health Insurance BC
Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100
Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151
Mailing Address:
Health Insurance BC
PO Box 9035 Stn Prov Gov
Victoria, BC V8W 9E3

This may include individuals who have applied for a new work or study permit but it has yet to arrive.

In these circumstances temporary coverage will be granted until July 31, 2020.

What if I am not eligible for the B.C. MSP and I think I have COVID-19, will I have to pay for my treatment?


If you have questions about your or a family members’ health related to COVID-19 symptoms or other medical issues, please contact Healthlink BC at 8-1-1.

If you have been advised or feel it is necessary to seek additional care from a medical professional for symptoms related to COVID-19, and you do not have private insurance coverage, provincially insured MSP health care coverage may be provided to you or your family members.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals present in B.C. who would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under MSP will be provided provincially insured health care coverage for services related to suspected or confirmed cases of infection with COVID-19. Services for unrelated conditions that are performed on non-eligible MSP patients will remain uninsured.

Your attending medical professional will be responsible for determining your eligibility for this coverage.

 I am a temporary foreign worker who has come to B.C. to work during the COVID-19 pandemic; I am unable to access private insurance, can I be insured under the MSP?


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary foreign workers in BC with a permit of less than 6 months, who would otherwise not be eligible for coverage under the MSP, will be provided temporary MSP coverage to July 31, 2020 or the end of your permit, whichever is sooner.
Individuals should contact Health Insurance BC to request this temporary coverage.
Health Insurance BC
Toll-free: 1 800 663-7100
Lower Mainland: 604 683-7151

Medical Services Plan – Waiver of Wait Period

The three-month MSP coverage wait period will be waived for eligible individuals effective March 1, 2020.

Friday, 20 March 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Sanctuary Health and community partners call in British Columbia to waive the three-month wait and provide health coverage for uninsured people

Vancouver ---  This afternoon, the Ontario government announced that they are waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage and will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. In wake of the ever progressing pandemic, Sanctuary Health and community partners in British Columbia are calling on their government to do the same.

Before today’s announcement, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were the only provinces that enforced a three month wait period for people arriving or returning from outside of Canada. This practice has been a longstanding concern of Sanctuary Health as it disproportionately affects vulnerable communities. Yesterday, BC’s Medical Services Commission announced that they will waive the Coverage Wait Period for those who are returning from impacted areas and intend to stay in BC and for those that were outside of the province for longer than the allowable period to maintain MSP Coverage. This leaves important members of our community wondering if they’ve been forgotten, including:
  • Canadian babies born to parents without MSP coverage
  • Migrant workers who arrived just before the borders closed or potentially who may start arriving in groups soon
  • Newly arrived permanent residents in British Columbia
  • People who have lived in British Columbia for many years and have finally obtained permanent residence.
“We are hoping that BC will make a clear statement as Ontario has today. It would be unconscionable that in a public health crisis, if valuable members of our community would be left without health coverage,” says Omar Chu of Sanctuary Health. “The three month wait never made sense, and we are seeing the consequences of it now.”

The wait period places individuals in a limbo period, forcing them to delay seeking care until coverage is received, placing them and the broader community at risk. Sanctuary Health recently presented the Medical Services Commission a package advocating for the removal of the wait period for all new and returning BC residents coming from outside of Canada, and for ensuring access to care upon arrival. The package had support letters from over 25 organizations including health care providers, unions representing health care workers, human rights organizations, and migrant groups.

Sanctuary Health’s call to remove the wait period is a part of our broader push for access without fear – regardless of immigration status – to free, universal, and expanded healthcare. This call includes people who are undocumented, navigating the bureaucratic immigration system, international students, and people with implied status. In July 2017, the government began denying MSP coverage to people with implied status: people who applied for new work or study permits before the expiry of their previous work or study permits and are legally entitled to live and work or study in Canada.

“The current pandemic has broadly revealed what we have been arguing since we started,” Chu says. “Health care is a human right and a just society ensures that we all have it.”

Sanctuary Health is a grassroots community group that deploys a wide range of strategies to advocate for access to services for all regardless of immigration status or documentation. Read the full Three Month Wait package at http://www.sanctuarycityvan.com/three-month-wait/

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

VPD refusing Access without Fear for migrant communities

Where? 2120 Cambie Street
When? Thursday July 19th, Protest at 12:30 PM, Public Meeting at 1 PM
What? Join the protest, and/or sign up to speak by emailing office@vancouverpoliceboard.ca (bcc: sanctuaryhealthvancouver@gmail.com so that we know you are coming)

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/483363188790350/

At a public meeting at 1pm Thursday, the Vancouver Police Department will ask its Police Board to pass fake “Access to Police Services without Fear” guidelines, which will only create a false sense of security.

We are asking community to tell the police that their guidelines are unacceptable by protesting outside their meeting and/or by signing up to speak directly to the board.

The Vancouver Police Department should not claim to provide ‘Access without Fear,’ if it continues to be complicit in the detention of children, the separation of families and the deportation of people to countries where they will face violence and persecution. If you collaborate with Canada Border Services Agency, you’re not providing ‘Access without Fear.'

The VPD’s proposed guidelines are exactly the opposite of Access without Fear principles. They list extremely general reasons why they may choose to call CBSA. Even when they cannot justify their call under these very general reasons, they refuse to limit their officers’ ability to contact CBSA.

We have shared multiple concerns rooted in the experiences of community members, and the VPD cannot explain how their guidelines would offer any safety to these same people. For example, we received a report from a Latinx refugee who was walking down the street while wearing construction gear and was stopped by a VPD officer and asked for his immigration papers. In another case, when the VPD was called to a job site to investigate a case of missing tools, they proceeded to ask everybody on the worksite for their immigration status.

Read the Sanctuary City audit of Access without Fear policies in the City of Vancouver here: http://www.sanctuarycityvan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Audit-Final.pdf 
To read the guidelines, see page 20-21 here: https://vancouver.ca/police/policeboard/agenda/2018/0719/1807P03-Board-Report-Access-to-Police-Services-Without-Fear.pdf

Friday, 29 June 2018

Sanctuary Health Statement 2018-06-29

As we see heartbreaking violence happening at all borders and as the municipal elections approach, several candidates and parties have been speaking out about Sanctuary City - and the city’s Access Without Fear Policy.

The current City of Vancouver Access Without Fear policy, passed in April 2016, has not been implemented under Vision Vancouver and has not led to meaningful change in the lives of migrants and their ability to feel safe accessing services. We often hear politicians say they support migrant communities but actions speak louder than words.

Sanctuary Health is a non-partisan group; we have not and will not endorse any political candidates. All candidates and community-oriented organizations must be held accountable to individuals who live in fear due to their precarious immigration status and the reality on the ground has not changed for them. The City of Vancouver has failed to allocate any resources to train staff and raise awareness about their policy, and they failed to get the Vancouver Police Department on board with the sanctuary principles. We are willing to work with anyone who will advance the Sanctuary City movement.

http://www.sanctuarycityvan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Audit-Final.pdf

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Still Waiting, Still Afraid: Auditing Access without Fear Policies in the City of Vancouver

Below is the Executive Summary of an Audit of Access without Fear policies in the City of Vancouver, two years since the policy was initially passed. Click here to read the full report.
 
It has been two years since the City of Vancouver passed its Access without Fear policy. While we’ve witnessed Vancouver’s mayor and City Council celebrate the policy as an example of the City of Vancouver’s inclusive and welcoming nature, the policy has not been implemented. Sanctuary Health Vancouver, with the support of a group of UBC students, conducted an audit on the implementation of Access without Fear policies in the City of Vancouver. This report presents the results from this audit.

The City of Vancouver committed through their policy to implement a communication and education strategy to raise awareness about the principles and policy; to develop guidelines in collaboration with affected communities to offer training to city staff; to monitor and evaluate; to implement a complaint mechanisms; to provide annual community reportbacks to share progress; and to advocate for provision of services regardless of immigration status to other orders of government and jurisdictions. Little to nothing has been done on any of these items. Furthermore, the City policy explicitly recognizes shelters as an important site for Access without Fear. However, none of the frontline workers were aware of the Access without Fear policy. Several staff stated they would have to give personal information to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers. This lack of training about the need to protect client confidentiality could prove to be most devastating to the safety and security of undocumented individuals. Furthermore, a new agreement between CBSA, the John Howard Society and the Belkin Shelter will put shelter workers in direct contact with the CBSA as the shelter will be used as a de-facto detention centre.

Council encouraged the boards of Parks and Recreation, the Vancouver Police, and the Vancouver Public Library to adopt policies which support the spirit and objectives of the City’s policy. The Vancouver Library Board passed their Access to Vancouver Public Library Services without Fear Policy in April 2016. In November 2016, The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation approved the Access to Park Board Services without Fear policy. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Department refuse to consider implementing Access without Fear principles.

A lack of training for frontline staff is significantly impacting Vancouver Parks and Recreation and the Vancouver Public Library’s respective policies. Only one out of twenty-seven frontline parks board staff interviewed were aware of the Access without Fear policy and most said they did not know what to do if the CBSA or police ask for information about clients. Similarly out of the twenty library locations called, only two staff confirmed knowledge of the library’s Access without Fear policy and only six were confident that they would not share information with law enforcement agencies without a warrant or legal order.

Through our journey of building relationships with individual frontline staff and service providers, Sanctuary Health has encountered great champions within the Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Parks Board. Because of the great trust, understanding and solidarity of these staff, more families have been able to use the libraries with their children and access leisure cards to be able to bring their children to community centers. We want to acknowledge these efforts as these relationships and their work is an example of what meaningful access without fear could look like. With training and support at the institutional level, all staff could replicate this work and make our city inclusive and equitable for all.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Department is asking people with precarious immigration status to talk to them, while refusing to assure their safety from deportation if they do. Over the past two years, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has sought community endorsement of their ongoing working relationship with CBSA’s Inland Immigration Enforcement under the banner of “Access without Fear”. This relationship subverts the whole intention and purpose of an Access without Fear policy, and is unsafe for people with precarious immigration status. Until the VPD commits to truly providing Access without Fear, the VPD should not pass guidelines called “Access without Fear” which would create a false sense of safety.

Click here to read the full report.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

What’s really scary? Not having health coverage when your baby needs it

Update:

Then, the BC MSP office reached out to Sanctuary Health and asked to meet as soon as possible. 
On Tuesday, we met with leadership of BC MSP and Pharmaceutical Services. They agreed that all BC-born babies deserve and are eligible for health coverage under MSP.  The MSP office said they would work with Sanctuary Health to make sure babies who had previously had their applications rejected would get coverage. They also committed to eliminating the whatever registration barriers had been preventing these babies from getting MSP coverage so that no family faces rejection in the future. We need to confirm that the registration barriers have been lifted for future applicants - then we'll know for sure whether this issue has been resolved. However, we are cautiously hopeful that for some BC families, life is about to get a whole lot easier. 


October 27th, 2016

(Vancouver) - Advocates and health care professionals gathered at the Strathcona Midwifery Collective, this morning to share that they are terrified for babies who cannot access BC health coverage due to discrimination against their parents’ immigration status. Among pumpkins bearing messages such as “Health for All” and “MSP for Babies,” they shared messages from the worried parents of these babies.

“For us as parents, it’s indeed extremely frustrating that our baby does not have medical coverage,” said Oscar and Marcela, whose names have been changed to protect their privacy. “We have applied twice and in neither application the Ministry has taken the time to respond whether or not my baby qualifies.”

"If a baby is born in Canada, they are a Canadian citizen and immediately eligible for MSP," Minister of Health Terry Lake told Parliament on May 5th 2016. However, in correspondences with Sanctuary Health, Barbara Walman, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health confirmed that in practice this is not the case. “Although any child born in BC is a Canadian citizen and may be entitled to MSP coverage,” she wrote. “The timing of and requirements for their coverage will depend on the circumstances of their birth.” Over 500 people have sent emails to the Ministry of Health asking them to develop a registration process that aligns with Minister Lake’s words.

“This is a life and death situation; these babies could die if they don’t get health care,” said Ingrid Mendez of Sanctuary Health. “Meanwhile, deportation to face violence in their home country is not a legitimate option. Although mothers have told us, in desperation, that they are willing to put their own lives at risk if their babies could stay safe in Canada.”

“I get really worried and powerless when he is sick, I don’t know how much help I can get without his MSP coverage,” said Camila, who will need to find thousands of dollars to pay for her babies’ urgent surgery. “The immigration part of it [is] also worrying because they might start questioning why I am asking for help when I am not Canadian, only my baby is.”

“We’ve spoken to health care providers in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, and we understand that all these provinces provide healthcare to babies in these situations. It’s time for BC to step up to the plate.” said Tasha Nijjar of Sanctuary Health.

Sanctuary Health is a grassroots community group that deploys a wide range of strategies to advocate for access to services for all regardless of immigration status or documentation. To learn more about the issue visit: http://www.bchealthcoalition.ca/what-you-can-do/make-sure-bc-babies-can-access-health-care

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