On June 30, 2012, the federal government made drastic cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which provides provides temporary healthcare to refugees and refugee claimants in Canada. The IFHP cuts are intimately tied to the recent federal legislation Bill C-31 (popularly known as the Refugee Exclusion Act), which will create an immigration system that discriminates against refugee claimants based on their nationality. Those fleeing from countries deemed “safe” by the government will not be considered legitimate refugees and will not receive health coverage, except in health emergencies that pose a risk to public health or public safety.
We are a grassroots organization that formed in response to Bill C-31 and the IFHP cuts. We are an alliance of health care providers and service professionals, refugees and migrants, representatives from organizations supporting refugees and migrants, and concerned members of the public.
We believe access to healthcare is a fundamental right for all people including refugees and migrants. We recognize that Canadian communities have been built from a history of immigration and we cannot privilege certain migrant groups over others. We support and respect diversity, oppose discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, or country of origin.
Migrant rights is an issue of justice. Forced migration is the result of interlocking social, political, and economic factors, such as war and severe unemployment, and we recognize Canada’s role in both upholding and challenging these factors. We therefore support the full inclusion of migrants into Canada and just relationships between Canada and the international community. Our definition of migrants includes refugees, refugee claimants, migrant workers, and undocumented people residing in Canada, and landed immigrants.
We believe that health care must continue to be publicly provided. Our public health care system must be expanded to provide comprehensive care and improve the health of everyone in Canada, both newcomers and native-born. Funding for health care (and other social services) is essential to health and thriving communities and must take precedence. Although the federal Conservative government claims the IFHP changes will lead to cost savings of $20 million per year, these cuts will only increase health care costs as care is diverted from primary care preventive settings to acute emergency care and hospital treatment.
- We advocate for full access to health care for all refugee and migrant communities, actively opposing Bill C-31 and the cuts to IFHP.
- We monitor and raise awareness of the impacts of the IFHP cuts.
- We identify available services within the health system and disseminate these resources to refugee and migrant communities.
- We promote the creation of safe spaces for migrants within the health system and aim to remove all systemic and cultural barriers to health services in our communities.
- We work in solidarity with migrants and migrant groups in challenging systemic oppression, particularly those that create barriers to accessing health services.