Thursday 27 October 2016

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


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:


Wednesday 26 October 2016

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

VANCOUVER BC-- As Halloween approaches, advocates and health care professionals will gather to share their grave fears for BC-born babies who cannot access BC health coverage due to discrimination against their parents’ immigration status. Over 500 people have sent emails to the Minister of Health about their concerns.

WHAT: Press Conference and Powerful Visual
WHEN: Thursday, October 27th, 2016 9 AM
WHERE: Strathcona Midwifery Collective at 439 Dunlevy Avenue

Ingrid Mendez, Sanctuary Health
Jennifer Kuhl, BC Health Coalition

About Sanctuary Health
Sanctuary Health is a grassroots community group. We deploy direct action, movement-building, community-engagement, and direct support strategies to advocate for access to services for all regardless of immigration status or documentation. We are committed to building cross-sectoral alliances of mutual support to advance the migrant-justice movement on unceded Coast Salish territories.

About BC Health Coalition
The BC Health Coalition is a network of individuals and organizations with a shared passion for public health care. Our coalition community is comprised of over 600,000 people in B.C. - and growing.

Thursday 18 August 2016

URGENT: Support a Family of 4 (soon 5) to stay in Canada

Please click here to donate to help raise the $9000 required to help a Honduran family of four, soon to be five, apply to stay in Canada after fleeing their homes out of fear for their lives and the safety of their children.

With no other option but to flee, the family, which includes a pregnant mother and two young children, now faces the high cost of staying in Canada legally so they can access basic services, such as education and health care. In order to stay, each member of their family must apply for a Pre-removal Risk Assessment and the right to stay under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds (H&C)  which will cost more than $9000.

The current situation in Honduras is unsafe for many. The country has the world’s highest homicide rate, and environmental activists, human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, members of the LGBTQ community, the Garifuna, Indigenous people, union leaders, farmers and journalists are being systematically threatened or killed. The Canadian government has been a consistent ally to the current government in Honduras since it took power in a 2009 military coup, downplaying the government’s role in the human rights crisis and passing a Free Trade Agreement in 2014.

According to Human Rights Watch :

“Children experience high levels of violence, largely perpetrated by armed gangs. Many are recruited into these gangs or are frequently under pressure to join them, according to press reports. Fear of violence drives hundreds of other children every year to leave their homes and head north, often unaccompanied, to Mexico and the United States. Some migrants who had been deported back to Honduras told Human Rights Watch they were living in hiding and were afraid to go out in public.”

Due to a life of fear and hiding resulting from precarious immigration status, the family wishes to remain anonymous. Please help this family raise some of the money they need to provide a secure life for their young children and enjoy the basic human rights that everyone deserves.

Any amount helps - thank you very much for your support.