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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