Friday 17 December 2021

Media Advisory: Non-Status Mother Targeted Outside Elementary School By Immigration Enforcement

Non-Status Mother Targeted Outside Elementary School By Immigration Enforcement 

Students, Teachers and School Board Trustees speak out demanding Sanctuary Zones around Schools 

New Westminster, BC: Teachers, students, and school board trustees are joining migrants outside Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary School after Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stalked and handcuffed a migrant mother shortly after she dropped off her Canadian daughter at the school. CBSA had previously contacted the school but under New Westminster School District’s Sanctuary Schools policy, information about students is not shared with immigration authorities unless required by law; it appears CBSA chose to surveil the school instead. Migrants across British Columbia are now afraid to go to school. On December 18th, International Migrants Day, students, teachers and community members will be calling on all schools in BC to declare themselves Sanctuary Schools, where all students regardless of immigration status can study without fear, and demanding that immigration enforcement respect these designations and do not enter, wait outside, or call requesting information about migrants from schools. 

WHAT: Students, teachers and school board trustees call for schools to be declared Sanctuary Zones to protect families. 
WHEN: Saturday December 18 10 AM, International Migrants Day
Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary School, 1714 8th Ave, New Westminster, BC V3M 2S7, unceded territory of the Halkomelem speaking peoples including the qiqéyt, qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people. 

Omar Chu, Sanctuary Health
Maya Russell and Mark Gifford, School Trustees, SD40
Sarah Wethered, President, New Westminster Teachers' Union
Kathleen Carlsen, SD40 DPAC Chair
Reverend Emilie Smith, Saint Barnabas Anglican Church
New Westminster Anne Whitmore, BCEdAccess

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.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

BC reverses decision to cut off COVID-related care coverage

Sanctuary Health is relieved that the BC government has walked back a decision to cut off COVID-related care for new residents of the province who are not eligible for coverage under the Medical Services Plan (MSP), hours after Burnaby Beacon published a report on the topic. However, we are shocked that such a cut was even considered. 

Below is a reaction from Sanctuary Health member Omar Chu to the announcement quoted in the Burnaby Beacon: 

"Omar Chu, who’s a member of community health coalition Sanctuary Health and had called for the decision to be reversed, told the Beacon that the situation had further eroded his trust in the provincial government.

“I think this was kind of the last in a series of places where we’ve tried to interact in good faith. Personally, I’m still dealing with the shock of learning about what they were trying to do yesterday, and we’re going to need to see some real solid actions to rebuild trust,” he said.

Chu and Sanctuary Health weren’t aware that the policy was set to expire in a matter of days until alerted to the fact by the Beacon on Tuesday morning. The coalition works directly with new residents who would be impacted by the change.

Chu immediately reached out to his contacts within the Ministry for information and an explanation—but as of Wednesday afternoon, still hadn’t received any sort of response.

“I left voicemails, sent emails, and haven’t heard any response … what I’ve seen over the past four years is that the only thing that gets movement on anything is media attention and public shaming,” he said.

“That seems to be the only thing that gets them to reverse policies—and it seems like this government’s goals are not aligned with ours.”

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Open Letter Regarding Health Care for Migrants who have Maintained Status (Previously Known as “Implied Status”)

UPDATE: On April 29, 2022, the BC Ministry of Health has updated their policy for individuals with "Maintained Status" previously known as "Implied Status.' People with Maintained Status will no longer have live with the uncertainty of depending on temporary "COVID-19" coverage. Unlike the COVID-19 policies which arbitrarily set cut-off dates (for example, excluding people whose initial permit expired prior to December 1 2020), the new policy applies for everyone who has Maintained Status. You can read the Ministry of Health's information bulletin here.

Click here to download the letter

We call on the BC Ministry of Health to fully provide MSP coverage to workers and students with Maintained Status.

People with Maintained Status are workers and students who have 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.[1] This was previously known as “Implied Status.” In a program delivery update, Immigration and Refugee Citizenship Canada replaced “implied” with “maintained” to clarify that “clients who have applied to extend their status benefit from an extension of their period of authorized stay by law.”[2] People with Maintained Status are clearly defined as residents under the Canada Health Act.[3]

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC Ministry of Health created Temporary Policies to provide MSP coverage to some migrant workers and students with Maintained Status, if they requested it. However, as of April 30th 2021, the BC government has decided to cut off many workers and students with Maintained Status by excluding people whose initial permit expired prior to December 1 2020.

Prior to July 1st 2017, the Ministry of Health provided nine months of healthcare coverage to individuals with what was then called “Implied Status.” However, on July 1st 2017, they decided to cut this coverage.[4] In its place, the Ministry of Health invented a new vocabulary that is not present in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations: the policy indicates that individuals may be reimbursed for medical expenses if they provide a new valid work or study permit, if the new permit is issued within 9 months of the expiry of the initial permit, if there is no lapse in the individual’s immigration status and ONLY if they request it. They referred to people in this category—and nobody else—as people who have “maintained status.” Immigration and Refugee Citizenship Canada’s program delivery update has now clarified that this is incorrect language and ALL people who have applied to extend their status should be considered to have “Maintained Status.”

The government has now cut health coverage to migrants twice during the pandemic: in July 2020 and April 2021. This is unacceptable and infuriating. We demand that the government reverse this cut and expand coverage for all so that we can have a truly universal health care system.



BC Health Coalition, BCGEU, BC Employment Standards' Coalition, BC Federation of Labour, Community Action Initiative, DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society, The Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University, Hospital Employees' Union, Living in Community, Migrante BC, Migrant Workers’ Centre, Pivot Legal Society, Sanctuary Health Vancouver, Society for Children and Youth of BC, SWAN Vancouver, UFCW1518, Vancouver and District Labour Council, Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights (CDWCR), West Coast LEAF, Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice 
Worker Solidarity Network            

Worker Solidarity Network    BC Poverty Reduction Coalition

[1] Pursuant to Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, s 183(5), 186(u), and 189

[3] The Canada Health Act defines “resident” as:  in relation to a province, a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes his home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include a tourist, a transient or a visitor to the province;

[4] From a document acquired by FOI request.