Wednesday 9 March 2016

Fraser Health - Access without Fear!

Fraser Health is the Health Authority that serves the region from Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon all the way down the Fraser River Valley to the Vancouver suburbs of Burnaby and Delta.

Fraser Health has taken the following positive steps to respond to address some of the problems with their policies:

1. Fraser Health’s CEO has personally looked into the matter.
2. Fraser Health states it has made changes to internal processes, preventing the finance department from sharing information with immigration officials, and committing to update their policies to remove any reference to the Canada Border Services Agency
3. Fraser Health publicly states it has made these changes on social media and through email.

Community members are working with Fraser Health to hold it accountable to its commitments and to ensure that it effectively addresses patient’s needs. A strong coalition of affected communities and advocates agree that there are five important changes that need to be made to Fraser Health's policies and guidelines:

1. Changing all policies so that Fraser Health staff protects patient confidentiality and does not share information with the Canada Border Services Agency.
2. Ensuring that health care, including booked services, are accessible for all, regardless of immigration status.
3. Training all relevant Fraser Health staff on these changes in policy, and accountability and complaint mechanisms.
4. Ensuring that patients are not listed as victims of trafficking without their consent.
5. Establishing urgent and concrete timelines for the implementation of these policies.

A health care worker's priority should be the patient's health. Hospitals are not border checkpoints! We will report back on updates as they become available.

In a 22 month period between January 1, 2014 to October 7, 2015, Fraser Health staff made 558 referrals to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). As revealed in Freedom of Information requests, Fraser Health policy dictates that physicians, nurses and social workers should work with the financial department to arrange for deportations. A health care worker's priority should be the patient's health. Hospitals are not border checkpoints! Health care is a basic human right. Everyone should have dignified access to health care. Patients should be able to receive the care that they need without emotional stress and fear of deportation, debt and death. Patient confidentiality and "do no harm" are fundamental principles that should guide all aspects of our health care system. These principles are violated when Fraser Health shares patient information with the CBSA. Patients should not have to deal with daily questions from their social worker about their immigration status. They should not be waking up from a coma to see CBSA officers at the foot of their bed. Patients should not have to choose to give birth in their bedrooms for fear of accessing the health care system. These are the results of Fraser Health's negligent policies. Fear of accessing services can and has resulted in individuals suffering from preventable disease, injury, and death. In other cases, catchment areas like Vancouver Coastal Health, who do not share information with CBSA, bear the burden of providing care for vulnerable and diverse populations that cannot find comparable services within Fraser Health. Fraser Health also appears to have made arrangements for air ambulances and airline medical escorts to assist with deportations, a process that costs thousands of dollars. On International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, please join us for a vigil, in front of Fraser Health Authority Offices, in honour of patients who have been detained or deported due to Fraser Health's collaboration with CBSA. The vigil will be on March 21st at 5 pm. Details about the event can be found here: You can also write tell Fraser Health's] Board of Directors and important Senior Leaders at Fraser Health that these policies are unacceptable, are putting lives at risk, and need to be changed here: