‘There is a social equity issue there’


Jason Kenney talks to the Edmonton Journal about cuts to health care coverage for refugees.

The government said the scaling back of services offered through the Interim Federal Health Program is aimed at levelling the playing field by limiting refugee claimants to the same health-care benefits package that the average Canadian is able to access for free from each province or territory. “I think there is a social equity issue there,” Kenney told the Journal’s editorial board on Monday, adding that cutting off access to extended prescription, dental and vision benefits for the targeted refugees will save $19 million per year. The program cost Canadians $84 million last year and Kenney said it was due to become a $100-million expense soon.

Critics argue that each Canadian would only have to shell out 59 additional cents per year to maintain the benefits, but they miss the point. Kenney said the cuts are aimed at people whose asylum claims have been denied on appeal but have yet to leave the country. “If you’ve lost your asylum claim, don’t expect to stay four or five years getting extended benefits.” However, the cuts will also affect refugees who have been sponsored by religious groups and are in Canada legally. Kenney said it is reasonable to expect the religious groups that are already paying for refugees’ housing and food would also cover the $170 annual cost of extended benefits for the people they bring to Canada.


‘There is a social equity issue there’

  1. Little by little he’s walking it back…..but he’s not there yet, and the protests will continue.

    • Ya, sending teenagers to ambush back yard BBQs is a helluva protest. Really winning hearts and minds with that “strategy”.

      • Doctors speaking out at press conferences is the protest…..have you been drinking?

        • Ya, some people are trying to turn 3 grumpy doctors into a “protest”. Good luck with that.

          • Either read up on it……right on this site…..or finish your drink and go back to sleep.

  2. Gawd – give it a rest. FAILED asylum claims are the target.

    • “However, the cuts will also affect…”

    • There is also the recent attempt to clear the backlog by just tossing everything out….200,000 delays.

    • Yes Leo and even though religion sucks these churches will probably pay for the people who aren’t failed asylum claims to get their extended benefits.

      • My parent’s church in Ottawa supported a group of Columbian refugees about 20 years ago. Furniture, clothing, food, etc. donated, then part of the cash collected every service was used for misc. costs until they got on their feet. They were well looked after and went on to be good Canucks. Held spanish service right after the regular Sunday service for years.

  3. It seems the best idea would be to work to have a faster appeals process (you can’t eliminate appeals, as procedural fairness is a constitutional right of anyone dealing with the Canadian government, even a refugee claimant). What is the average time for an appeal anyway, given that givenb kenney’s history there is absolutely no reason to believe any figure he would state?

  4. So it is expected that the churches who sponsor refugees who are in Canada legally, will provide them with vision, dental and prescription benefits coverage? So in all likelihood, these vulnerable people will not go without vision, dental or prescription healthcare benefits… that is until they are approved to stay in the country, get low paying jobs and receive provincial government healthcare. Then those benefits will disappear until they can pay for them by themselves like other poor working Canadians. Fabulous.

    • Poor working Canadians will always face challenges, that’s what it is to be poor. Are you hoping to outlaw poverty? How exactly?

      Are you arguing, instead, that refugees should never receive anything more than what is provided to the working poor?

  5. If this government is actually interested in social equity, when does it plan to provide First Nations with the equivalent health and education services received by other residents of the same provinces?
    First Nations people typically live in places where it is much more expensive to supply health and education services but the government that is constitutionally responsible not only spends much less per person than is spent by the provinces, it has no local authorities to organize and coordinate services, no standards for delivery, and no way of measuring whether delivery is effective or equitable or not. As far as I know, the government hasn’t even answered the criticisms in the last year’s auditor general report on the topic. There was room in the bill to reduce services for refugee claimants, why no action to address the inequity for First Nations health delivery?

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