To suggest that the Harper regime is working relentlessly to diminish the Canadian soul is hardly a remarkable insight. Examples abound of its flinty resolve to undermine traditional Canadian values and virtues, compassion and fairness apparently at the top of its 'hit list'.
But while the Conservatives seek to remake Canada in its own morally impoverished image, it is important for all of us to see the human victims of such a governance model.
A number of such faces come into stark relief if one explores the consequences of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's changes to health care coverage for failed refugee claimants and those from a yet-to-be defined list of "safe" countries [who] will only receive medical care if their condition is deemed a risk to public health or safety.
Here is one example of a woman who, ultimately, did qualify for care but, thanks to the widespread confusion created by the bill, suffered needless stress during a very vulnerable time in her life:
The call came 35 weeks into her pregnancy, right around the time her abdominal cramps began. It was the receptionist from her gynecologist's office saying the government's changes to the Interim Federal Health Program meant her prenatal care was no longer covered.
That's when Tiffany started to panic.
"I asked, `What am I supposed to do?'... I got scared," recalled the 27-year-old originally from the Caribbean.
"She told me that if I come and see the doctor I would have to pay the doctor a fee."
Unfortunately, even sympathetic and compassionate medical personnel are reaching the limits of help they can provide. As reported in today's Star,
Both the Scarborough Community Volunteer Clinic and Muslim Welfare Centre Clinic — the city’s two mainstays for uninsured patients — have reported an influx of refugee patients as a result of the cuts. “Our clinic is at a sustainability crisis point. Everybody is under the gun here and we are swamped. Some nights, it’s being crowd control,” said Dr. Paul Caulford, who operates the Scarborough clinic with seven other family doctors.
The article goes on to detail that many of the patients have chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, and the clinics are their last hope to receive medications that are covered by donations.
Anna Elumah is another of the human faces of this story. when her two-year-old daughter received stitches after a fall at the shelter where she, her brother and her mother are staying, Elumah was told to go to a community clinic to have them removed.
“We went to a clinic on Morningside. They looked at my paper and said, ‘It’s no good anymore. Go somewhere else,’” recalled Elumah, who also was suffering a nagging headache after she ran out of her medication for high blood pressure.
Her caseworker referred her to the Scarborough clinic, where she receives free drugs for her hypertension and asthma inhalers for her 8-year-old son, Davids.
In answer to all of this, there is the noble lie:
“The changes ensure bona fide refugees continue to receive comprehensive health coverage, while illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers from safe, democratic countries no longer receive health insurance that is superior to what is generally available to taxpaying Canadians,” said Alexis Pavlich, a spokesperson for Jason Kenney.
So, our choice as citizens is clear. We can, as the government wants, turn our backs on the most vulnerable, failed refugee claimants who will eventually be sent back to their own countries, or we can treat them with compassion and care while they are here, something every human being deserves, and something well within even our weakened economic means to provide.