Kenney v. Matthews

by Aaron Wherry

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has written to Jason Kenney and Leona Aglukkaq—pdf here—to protest the government’s changes to health care for refugees claimants. The Canadian Press, CBC and Sun cover the back-and-forth. The Montreal Gazette explains the situation.

Under the changes to the Interim Federal Health Program, refugees from countries the minister deems safe, called Designated Countries of Origin, will only be covered for hospital services, services of a doctor or registered nurse, laboratory, diagnostic, and medications and vaccines if these are required to prevent or treat a disease posing a risk to public health or a condition that poses a risk to public safety.

Settled refugees or claimants from countries not deemed safe would be covered for all of the above, except medications and vaccines, which again would only be covered when public health or safety is at risk.

The Star editorializes.

Below, a partial transcript of Mr. Kenney’s comments yesterday.

We made this decision because Canadians expect us to ensure that we’re not providing better quality health care to effectively illegal migrants for example than Canadian citizens get. We’re saying here that, for example, if a bogus asylum claimant has had their claim considered and rejected by a fair legal system, they shouldn’t continue to receive the public health care. They should leave Canada. That’s the message we’re sending and I would just say to the provinces with respect, I don’t understand why they seem to be more concerned about providing supplementary health benefits like dental care and eye care to, for example, rejected asylum claimants than they are to their own citizens, including seniors on fixed incomes who don’t get these supplemental benefits.

So why should they be forced to pay for them through their taxes for, for example, rejected asylum claimants. So I think perhaps some of the provinces who are raising this have put their priority in the wrong place … in many cases, we’re talking here about effectively illegal immigrants, that is to say rejected asylum claimants who are under removal orders from Canada. The real question is why were we providing them tax-funded health insurance in the past? That’s what Canadians have been asking us and that’s why we’ve acted in this way.

I would also point out to the province that our asylum reforms, we estimate, will save provincial governments around $1.6 billion over five years by accelerating the removal of false asylum claimants because, right now, those claimants typically spend several years in Canada, avoiding and delaying deportation while typically they’re claiming social benefits like welfare and we’re basically going to put an end to that with Bill C-31. So in fact, this is not downloading. If all this is taken into account, the provinces will be saving an enormous amount of money as a result of our refugee reforms…

The difficulty of the issue is that there are different categories of people that we’re talking about. Now, the people that the activists seem to be most focused on will be rejected asylum claimants who will be losing health insurance except for catastrophic or emergency care. So I keep hearing about cases where people say that these individuals won’t be able to get regular medical treatment. Well, my response would be we don’t provide health insurance, either federally or provincially, to visitors to Canada. We don’t provide it to illegal immigrants. We don’t provide it to most people here on work permits or study permits. So why is it that we have an obligation to provide it to rejected asylum claimants? 

What we’re looking for is a consistency in the provision of publicly insured health benefits in Canada. We’re simply saying that as part of our overall reforms of the asylum system, if you had your crack at the system and it’s rejected and you’re found not to be a bonafide refugee, you have no entitlement to receive social benefits in Canada. In fact, you have an obligation to leave the country … many of the activists who are making these arguments, what they’re actually saying, what I hear from them, is that there is an absolute unqualified universal right to publicly funded healthcare including supplemental benefits for everyone in Canada. If that’s really their position, then they should not just be protesting this change, but they should be demanding that taxpayers fund comprehensive and supplemental health insurance for illegal migrants, visitors, foreign students and people here on work permits, but that doesn’t seem to be their position. So I think there’s an inconsistency there.

According to Mr. Kenney’s office, asylum claimants from “non-safe” countries will have access to the same level of health care as that which Canadian taxpayers receive from their provincial health care coverage, including early health care interventions, but not supplementary drug costs.

See previously: The Conservatives vs. the doctors and ‘Members of the Conservative government will be disrupted from this point on’




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Kenney v. Matthews

  1. If Canada genuinely needed to save money there are dozens of ways we could save massive amounts of it without ever touching help to refugees.

    This is indeed a mean and vicious attack on the helpless, and it violates everything Canada has ever stood for.

    From our earliest beginnings we have taken in refugees…. united empire loyalists and runaway slaves….gave them land to get a new start! DPs from Europe, boat people from Vietnam….

    Jason Kenney isn’t even a decent human being much less a Canadian.

    • This affects FAILED refugee’s, ie. Fake Refugee’s, ie. Health Tourists. Do you really think our refugee health system should be setup to promote fraud and fake claims?

      “This is indeed a mean and vicious attack on the helpless” might have some meaning if you didn’t say that about every single government policy. These people aren’t helpless, they’re committing fraud to steal from taxpayers. If preventing that is an “attack”, good!

      You’ll also note that this does not change immigration policy. But you can try to spin it as if we’re suddenly not allowing anymore immigrants… it just makes you look like you’re incapable of reading.

      • Go away Rick….we don’t need your trolling on the subject. Save the Cons some money by taking the weekend off

        • EmilyOne – you are the one that needs to go away – you seem to be willing to spend other people’s money on things that you believe to be good and true and refuse to accept that not everyone feels the same way you do – fair enough. But then you need to step up to the plate and finance you own beliefs rather than expecting others to do so. I’m more than willing to provide extended health benefits (drugs, vision and dental care) to Canadian seniors and Canadians in poverty but NOT TO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE IN CANADA

          • What I relief I won’t have to pay for those F35s, Gazebos or War of 1812 celebrations.

          • Well sweetums…..we’ve had treaties in effect for over half a century agreeing to take in refugees….and it’s done Canada enormous good, helping people when they need it. Not to mention it’s what civilized people do.

            Cons sure have a warped version of that ‘christianity’ they’re always promoting.

          • News Flash: We still accept refugee’s, and always will. This changes none of that, genius. @a1311dfcff21b240c3b7ce528da112cd:disqus is exactly right. You always look after your own first. You can complain all you want about evil Christians, Conservatives, Westerners, Americans, Business, or whatever. It doesn’t change the fact that your logic is extremely flawed. Happy Canada day.

          • I said stop trolling….I’m not interested in your nonsense.

            Go outdoors and play

          • Why is it when Rick isn’t walking in goose-step with you, he’s the troll?

          • Because EmilyOne is incapable of any thought not put their by her NDP masters?

          • Emily has never been NDP in this or any other lifetime

          • Rick has always been a troll….and we’ve never agreed.

          • Let me fix that for you.

            “Rick will always be a troll, as long as he’s not walking in goose-step with me.”

          • No, he’s just a troll….but then you’re new here and don’t understand following thread topics, or know the regulars.

            Unaware of Godwin’s law too, I see.

          • I don’t see anything Rick has said that would classify him as a, Troll. Looks like your criteria for a troll is anyone who has the audacity to have a different opinion, and by the look of the yeas and nays, you seem to be decidedly in the nays category. I guess that means this thread is swarming in, Trolls. And since I have a feeling we would seldom agree on much of anything that would place me in your troll category also. But I’m willing to bet if I was sympatico, and in goose-step, I would be safe.

          • Yes, all conservatives are fundamentalist Christians. No exceptions.
            I read that a lot on these comment boards, so it must be true.

          • Stop lying, Orson. You don’t read that a lot on these comment boards unless you’re reading your own lying posts like that one.

            If you do read it a lot, should be a piece of cake to link a few of them.

          • Emily just posted that conservatives are ALWAYS promoting Christianity. If you don’t agree with Emily’s statement, perhaps you should denounce her as a liar.

          • We are talking about ILLEGAL rejected refugees.

          • We are talking about refugees that Kenney waved his magic wand over and declared them to be ‘illegal rejected refugees’.

            His definition….no one elses.

      • I see you’re using Kenney’s term ‘fake’ refugees. I will say it again, if this government wants to stop accepting refugees why don’t they have the gonads to just do it. God knows, they’d score bonus points from their base.

        • FAKE refugees. Don’t project your own interpretation onto what he really said.

          • FAKE is the exact word he used in a tv interview. Take it up with him.

    • We are talking about ILLEGAL rejected claimants.

      • Kenney’s definition,,,,no one elses.

  2. It’s just laughable Kenney pretends to care about senior citizens or any other Canadian. I’m still waiting for Gazebo Tony to repay the $50 million he stole to bribe locals in his riding for votes. This robofraud party that tolerates Bev Oda’s constant abuse of tax revenue needs to be kicked out. Keep the refugees and excommunicate the lying thieving fraudulent cons.

    • Wow, sounds like a real hospitable place you have planned there. Sounds to me you should move to a place like North Korea where they jail people who don’t tow the ideological line. It’d be right up your ally.

      • Why move to North Korea? Harper is creating that here as we speak.

        • Happy Canada Day to you too. I’ll bet you’re the life of that party complaining about how this extreme right win tea party prime minister is turning Canada (the envy of the world) into a failed Communist state. On this day especially, I’m very proud to be Canadian.

          • *shaking in boots* A left wing pollster publishes a poll favouring his leftwing parties in a leftwing digi-rag, the day before Canada Day. Try polling the hundreds of thousands of Canadians out at Canada Day festivities tonight how they feel about the country. Pretty sure the results would be very very different.

          • Oh, Twitter! Where serious people go to discuss serious things! Hey, have you been following #BeardedSocialistFromQuebec hashtag? I Heard all the cool kids have been using it for the last 20 minutes, must be the bomb!

            The only thing useful on Twitter is @badluckbrian But it’s great to see that some people would rather celebrate Canada Day by “denouncing” the PM of the greatest country in the world on a social network that doesn’t allow more than 140 characters of “denouncement”. I’m guessing most of you clowns would have a tough time coming up with that many letters of complaint.

          • He was getting booed at the TO celebrations today. But keep telling yourself everything is just fine.

          • Yes, he’s surely the most unpopular PM in the history of the country. I’m sure he’ll just quit and give the job to Beardo.

          • A bunch of people in downtown Toronto, the most Liberal-friendly spot in the country, actually booed Stephen Harper. Wow. What other earth-shaking novel events happened? Let me guess: the sun rose in the morning, and then set at night.

      • It is hospitable to LEGAL refugees.

  3. These people are refugee claimants not refugees. Just because you say I want refugee status doesn’t mean that you are in need of being a refugee. In fact I am certain that Canada does not border any countries where people are being displaced and nor do we receive any direct flights from countries where real refugees come from, so you would have to assume people who make refugee claims are coming here for our benefits and social programs.

    • Refugee claimants are refugees….Kenney is simply redefining them.

      People walk over our border every day….or they come by boat.

      Our social programs aren’t so wonderful that people around the world are flocking here ya know….this is just silliness.

      • For people who say I want to be a refugee, they as a whole are the most generous in the world.

        • Kenny has convinced you of utter nonsense, and you like to feel superior so you buy the Scrooge routine.

          Unlike Canadians, many refugees have gone through horrific ordeals.
          “I’ve never met a single refugee who comes here to take advantage of
          Canada’s

          health-care system,” Berger said. “They come because they’re
          fleeing torture, rape and violence.”

          And unlike Canadians, refugees often have no relatives or friends to turn to for help. They’re at Canada’s mercy.

          The Interim Federal Health Program,
          which Kenney is poised to chop, cost the government $84 million last
          year. That is 0.04 per cent of the nation’s health bill. It served
          128,000 refugees — hardly a horde.

          http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1216125–chopping-health-coverage-for-refugees-is-a-false-saving

          • “I’ve never met a single refugee who comes here to take advantage of Canada’s health-care system,”
            Emily,
            You have either never met any of these refugees or, you are in a part of the “refugee business” where your job depends on them. I have met bogus refugees and legitimate refugees through my church where we sponsor them.

            My mother is 90 and does not get the same extended healthcare benefits a “refugee” from Eastern Europe gets. AFTER they have been rejected.

            I volunteer my time and contribute my money to legitimate refugees directly. If you are really that concerned, go to a failed refugee claimant and offer to buy them extended health care (Blue Cross etc) out of your own pocket. Just quit tell me and other Canadians that we should fund your agenda.

          • I guess you don’t check urls eh?

            And you should be ashamed of even claiming to be in a church…..when did Jesus say anything like you just spouted?

          • So, I donate my time and money to help refugees, I even welcome them into my home.
            I hold no ill feelings towards bogus refugees and am willing to forgive the fact that they are stealing from me. This is EXACTLY what Jesus taught! Jesus never told us to allow thieves to just continue to steal.

            Emily, you really need to get a grip. You will have a far greater impact by contributing your time and efforts to helping refugees directly than you ever will spouting your bitter vitriol. If you spent half the energy actually contributing to the refugees in your community that you spend complaining that others should do something, you would make a real impact.

            By the way, I am Buddhist and a lifelong member of the NDP.

            And yes, I read the URL’s – you are a global economic development analyst. I suggest you stop analyzing and start doing.

          • Jesus said something about being a good samaritan….that you most definitely are not. You’re also not supposed to lie….and calling a person in need a thief is definitely lying.

            For that matter, Jesus forgave thieves…..what church are you in again?

            Canada is bound by treaty to help refugees…..the thief here is Kenney

            The url is to an article on how little money this costs us….like I said, you didn’t read it.

          • Do you understand that forgiving, and encouraging are two completely different things?

          • If either of you can refuse insulin to a diabetic, and antibiotic to a pneumonia patient because they can’t pay for it….you are neither christian, nor buddhist…..nor human.

          • Well, I am neither Christian or Buddhist. But last time my doctor checked I was still a human. Dehumanizing particular political groups based on religion was a hallmark of the Nazi’s.

            Our current system refuses insulin or antibiotics to Canadians who can’t afford it. Is that inhumane? And if so, shouldn’t we provide that service to Canadians first? Or is it alright in your mind for a country to treat it’s own citizens worse than failed refugees?

          • No, you’re not even at chimp level…..they have the empathy you lack.

            Canadians who need insulin and antibiotics get them

            See…Canadians have backup….refugees don’t.

            And there is no such thing as a ‘failed refugee’

          • “Our current system refuses insulin or antibiotics to Canadians who can’t afford it.”

            Uh, no.

          • People on welfare/disability have their drugs covered because we recognize that they cannot afford them. The same principle applies to refugee claimants.

          • onward Christian soldiers

          • Yes, and this has to be proved. We don’t just take their words on it. You’re ridiculous. READ THIS VERY SLOWLY: “…many of the activists who are making these arguments, what they’re actually saying, what I hear from them, is that there is an absolute unqualified universal right to publicly funded healthcare including supplemental benefits for everyone in Canada. If that’s really their position, then they should not just be protesting this change, but they should be demanding that taxpayers fund comprehensive and supplemental health insurance for illegal migrants, visitors, foreign students and people here on work permits, but that doesn’t seem to be their position. So I think there’s an inconsistency there.”

          • “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for
            selfishness.” JK Galbraith

          • Yes, all conservatives are selfish and evil.
            I hear that all the time on these comment boards, so it must be true.

          • Nice try, but this is about a small and specific group of people that we have agreed to take in.

  4. This policy change is totally reasonable. We have taxpayers who have lived and worked in Canada their entire lives who are dying and suffering on waiting lists. That should be the spending priority, not ensuring fake refugee’s get free dental care.

    • Again, a false dichotomy.

      • Again, no it’s not. There is a finite amount of money to be spent on healthcare. The government has to decide what %X of that to dedicate to refugee’s. That X% then needs to be split into what Y% will go to legitimate refugee’s, and what Z% will go to illegal refugees. It’s not rocket science.

        It should also be noted that healthcare is a provincial responsibility, and if any provincial governments want to continue to provide higher levels of coverage, they can.

        If your argument is that the federal government should raise taxes to fund a provincial responsibility that disproportionately effects a small number of provinces, I don’t think you’ll find a lot of agreement.

        • “There is a finite amount of money to be spent on healthcare.”

          Bullshit. We’re talking $20M a year here (if you even believe Kenney’s numbers). The feds are cutting, what $2B in this budget? This is not a zero-sum game in which every dime spent on refugees is taken away from citizens’ healthcare.

          “We have taxpayers who have lived and worked in Canada their entire lives who are dying and suffering on waiting lists.”

          First commenter on the Star story: “With taxpaying Canadians dying on waiting lists…”

          You people seem to all be on the same Conservative talkingpoint distribution list.

          • You’re assuming it’s more than one person.

          • Could be on the same list… or maybe we’re both just intelligent independent thinkers who’ve come to the same logical conclusion. In fact, when multiple people come to the same conclusion, and a small but very vocal minority have to say things like “false dichotomy” or “But look at the size of the total budget”, it’s probably safe to say the majority is correct, and the minority is wrong.

          • I think it’s funny that you would mock a term like “false dichotomy” and yet lay claim to logic. And THEN discard logic to claim that majority opinion must be correct, without a) explaining how, or b) proving that your opinion is held by the majority.

        • re:”
          This is not a zero-sum game in which every dime spent on refugees is taken away from citizens’ healthcare.”

          When you are running deficit it is definitely a zero-sum game. In fact, it is even worse than that.

          • As long as a government is making thousands of spending decisions, no single decision is subject to zero-sum calculations.

            In other words, it’s all a matter of priorities. The Conservative government has decided to run a fiscal deficit of $X billion this year, and prioritized spending within that envelope. They’ve clearly decided that this $20M (plus another $8M) is better spent celebrating a war than providing health care to some refugees.

    • First, patients dying on waiting lists is an incredibly rare thing, and when it happens, it’s almost never because of the condition they’re awaiting treatment for, but rather some other complication — because our system is actually pretty damned good at triaging at this point.

      Second, do you somehow believe that come November or whenever the hospital budget is used up, they just stop admitting patients? They *budget* for $X.

      They spend what they spend.

      • In Ontario the government on May 7, 2012 just imposed cuts to the health care system that if left it place will cause cardiac patients to die, eye patients to go blind from macular degeneration, cataract surgery to be delayed and much more for taxpayers.

        “Second, do you somehow believe that come November or whenever the hospital budget is used up, they just stop admitting patients? ”
        –They already stop surgeries. Yes. They have been doing this for years when budgets for OR materials are going over budget.

        Canadian taxpayers have been getting shafted in their own health care for years and with the recent changes in Ontario it has just got worse. A lot worse. Ask your own personal physician about it. Check out epso.ca

        Gerry, MD

  5. The present Immigration Laws are to the detriment of the Canadian taxpayer and anyone suggesting otherwise is not being honest. We have a lot of so-called refugees in Canada who have come from safe countries and are here primarily for economic reasons and outright lies about abuses not able to be proven. A good many of them are criminals and should be returned to their country of origin to face justice there.

    We have laws and the only people we want are those who respect those laws and do not come here illegally. Health care in this country should be first and foremost for those paying the bills.

    The folks recently deported back to Trinidad-Tobago spent 8 years in the U.S. When told to leave there they trotted across the border and claimed refugee status here while Canadians are climbing on airplanes to vacation in the land they say is not safe for them. What a farce!

  6. This is stepping over a dime to pick up a penny. What happens when these people who don’t have money to pay for medications become seriously ill & wind up in emergency. Emergency care is always more expensive than preventative care. Of course the emergency care is paid for by the provinces, not the feds, so the feds save the penny and the provinces pay the dime. Net result – taxpayers are out the 9 cent difference!
    As to refugee claimants purchasing private health insurance – how many people will be screened out due to restrictions on pre-existing conditions?
    If the feds really believe that providing this coverage to refugee claimants is unfair, how about setting up a low-cost health-care plan so they can purchase coverage. Maybe they could also make this plan available to the working poor who don’t have private health-care plans.


    • how many people will be screened out due to restrictions on pre-existing conditions? ”

      Sadly, Canada can no longer afford to take care of all the sick people who want to come here.

      In Ontario the government has just imposed regulations that will deny state-of-the-art healthcare to taxpaying Canadians.

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