Health-care coverage for refugees is about to change in Canada

Our federal government determined that covering them wasn’t worth the cost


Adrian Wyld/CP

“These reforms (to refugee health coverage) allow us to protect public health and safety, ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely and defend the integrity of our immigration system all at the same time.”—Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, June 27, 2012

When refugees or asylum seekers arrive in Canada, they receive basic health-care coverage and access to supplemental services such as pharmaceutical, dentistry, and vision care. But beginning on June 29, under reforms to the Interim Federal Health Program, this coverage will be scaled back. Way back. The biggest change is that refugees who are brought to Canada or who arrive here from countries the government considers “unsafe” will lose their supplemental health care benefits, such as the drug coverage. As well, rejected refugee claimants who are waiting to go home and those who arrive from countries the government has declared “safe” will basically lose all access to health care, unless their condition poses a risk to public health and safety.

Health professionals across the country are incensed about the changes, saying they amount to an inhumane, public-health disaster. Our Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, maintains that this is a cost-cutting measure that will lead to $100 million in savings over the next five years, not to mention that the changes will actually protect public health and safety and deter health tourists from gaming the system.

Leaving impassioned rhetoric aside, Science-ish wanted to consider the evidence for refugees and health tourism, and what happens when you take health-care coverage away from people. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much: these reforms, it seems, are more ideology-based than rooted in good evidence.

Dr. Merrick Zwarenstein, senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, noted that the paucity of experimental studies speaks to a wider problem concerning our evidence for policies: it’s poor. “There’s a complete contradiction between how we decide what drugs work and how we decide on what policies and programs work,” he said. With the drugs, we use science, testing them with randomized controlled trials to try to get unbiased answers about their effectiveness. Not so with policies. We may do follow-up studies or track outcomes, but we usually don’t bother with randomization.

He thinks there are a few reasons for this, the major one being the lack of political will. “Policymakers are elected and promoted not on the basis of whether a policy works, but whether a policy is popular and electable,” says Dr. Zwarenstein. “So they are less interested in outcome, which often occurs years down the tracks after they have moved on.” Plus, he added, “Citizens are partly to blame because we don’t insist on a society in which we make the best use of the resources we have. We make decisions often on ideological grounds, when often these are not ideological questions. These are questions of pure pragmatism.”

The refugee health example is a case in point. Those who study evidence-informed policy making suggested looking to the U.S., since they’ve done some of the most robust experimental studies on the impact of moving people with no health-care insurance to coverage. This could be similar to the situation many refugees find themselves in when they arrive in Canada. One ongoing study in Oregon, which looks at citizens who are randomly assigned to health insurance, found that the insured spent an average of 25 per cent more on health care than the uninsured. So, it seems, leaving people without coverage could save on upfront costs, as Minister Kenney suggested.

Still, the insured in the Oregon study reported feeling healthier and happier than those who did not get coverage. They were less anxious about their well being, and there was a sharp decline in their medical debt and medical bills being sent to collection agencies. In other words, they were both more financially and physically sound. This left Katherine Baicker, an economist on the study, to note: “It’s up to society to determine whether it’s worth the cost.”

Our federal government grappled with the question of coverage for refugees and asylum seekers, and determined that it wasn’t worth the cost. Dr. Zwarenstein suggested that while other countries—including the U.K. and the U.S.—are moving to answer policy questions with the same rigour as pharmaceutical ones, Canada lags behind. At a time when we know more about the effects of drugs on our bodies than policy changes on our collective well being, the decision to chip away at the Interim Federal Health Program was made on the basis of political and ideological grounds. We should do better, especially with questions that determine who gets to live and who dies.

Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, the Medical Post and the McMaster Health Forum. Julia Belluz is the associate editor at the Medical Post. Got a tip? Seen something that’s Science-ish? Message her at or on Twitter @juliaoftoronto



Health-care coverage for refugees is about to change in Canada

  1. I move we deport Jason Kenney.

  2. I agree totally with the value of evidence based policy, but disagree that this isn’t about ideology. It is fundamentally about ideology, even for those who want to bring some scientific rigour to policy. Science is an ideology is every sense of the word. It’s not some neutral or bias-free position. I happen to think that it is, in many ways, a very useful one, but it’s an ideology and has its limits. And the appeal to lay aside rhetoric and look at evidence is rhetoric (rhetoric that I happen to agree with – that we should look at evidence).

    The desire to base decisions on evidence is rooted in particular epistemological assumptions that the CPC (or at least those in charge right now) simply don’t share. There is no way to reconcile the two approaches because there are fundamental differences in how they see the world and how one should make decisions.

    • Quoi?

      What bafflegab is this?

      Science is knowledge….not ideology nor rhetoric

      • Ah, the lack of self-reflection required to not realize how ideological and rhetorical the statement “Science is knowledge….not ideology nor rhetoric” is! Truly wondrous!

        • Ahh the inability to see that gravity exists no matter what political parties think of it..

          • The existence of something is not science. That’s simple fact. There’s a difference.

          • Good thing the weekend is coming up… need one.

          • Where have I ever denied gravity, or anything else like that? But then ad hominem attacks are common from those defending an orthodoxy.

            How is defining one’s own group with knowledge (i.e. truth) any different than a Christian saying “We have the only truth?”, or any other group? It’s what people do to claim authority. It’s a tautological argument – “we’re right because we’re right” – that lacks any intellectual rigour, which is disappointing because that’s what supporters of the scientific ideology claim to be so in to.

            It shouldn’t take much self-reflective capacity to see that the claims you’re making are the same as those that pretty much every other ideological contestant for power has made in the past 3000+ years.

            That isn’t an argument meant to disprove any particular truth claim of any ideology. It’s meant to challenge the authority drawn from the claimed naturalness or inherent validity of one’s position or ideology.

            All that I’m saying is that supporters of science often try to deny that they are adherents of an ideology because that’s part of how they try to claim their special status as natural and objective. It’s a rhetorical argument that is part of their claim to authority.

            Again, this isn’t about a particular truth claim of science, like gravity, it’s situating it as an ideology that emerges out of particular historical circumstances and that is involved in discourses of power.

            Of course, there are plenty of scientists and philosophers who know and write all about this. It’s called philosophy of science.

          • Very cute….but you’re still just trolling. And it’s a stupid trolll as well.

            When you get around to providing insulin for diabetic refugees, lemme know

            Meantime, enjoy your weekend.

          • I see. In your world, providing a reasonable and thought out point (even if others disagree) is trolling, while throwing around insults and dismissing arguments without seriously engaging them is… what then?

            Trolling a science post is coming in and saying “evolution is just a theory”. There’s nothing that I’ve said that’s not widely accepted in most philosophy, history, anthropology, and religious studies departments (to name but a few). It might be debatable, but then I thought you were pro- university and pro-logical debate (at least in your rhetoric, you seldom engage in the later here).

          • The topic here is healthcare for refugees….not your bored….and boring….trolling about nonsense.

          • JoeC: what you’re saying is *not* widely accepted in philosophy departments. (I speak as an insider. Philosophers of science generally laugh at extreme versions of the post-modernist claptrap you’re flirting with here.) Some scientists may indeed be ideological, but science as a method is not ideological in any ordinary sense of the word – and certainly not as the word is used in this Science-ish piece. In science, anything is in principle challengeable. (Cf. quantum logic, where even basic logical laws are placed under scrutiny.) In an ideology, there are sacred cows.

            In other words, in saying that science is an ideology, you claim that it holds certain claims as unchallengeable, but that’s incorrect.

            Of course, science isn’t an anything-goes methodology. If you’re going to challenge something, you’d better have a good reason. If you’re going to challenge basic laws of logic, you’d better have a *really* good reason. (This is where creationists fall down, for example.) In other words, what you don’t get to do is say “I just know it’s true but I can’t say why.”

            You could respond by saying that this last paragraph asserts a principle that defines scientific ideology. Well, OK, but that does serious violence to the ordinary sense of the word, so folks really won’t know what you’re talking about. (Whether or not you can make it fit with some dictionary definition you found.)

      • Science.. the practice of.. is indeed an ideology.
        Science tells us: “In any given situation, a given action will produce a specific result, and it will be the same result every time. If it does not produce the same result, either the situation or the action was somehow different.”

        That’s a statement of belief. It’s no more provable than “In any given situation the will of God dictates the result”

        Do any experiment a million times over, and if the result is always the same, then both explanations hold: “See? Science!” “No, God’s will!”

        If the result is ever different both explanations still hold: “Science! Something was different, we just don’t know what it is right now. Maybe you breathed on it funny, or a particle of dark matter came through.” “No, God’s will, we just can’t always know what that will be.”

        Now, for us as humans, the beliefs of science have turned out to be tremendously useful as they allow us to predict, and give us motivation to find out more information so as to develop even better predictions. It’s failure, of course, is that it’s a lot harder for regular people to use and understand, especially when we start dealing with things like human motivations, and the behavior of groups.

        Now, where I think JoeC is wrong is that he’s postulating a different belief structure rather than simple pandering for power.. in short he’s suggesting ignorance, not malice, is at the heart of the CPC decision making process on this file. Personally, I disagree.

        • LOL a beautiful piece of bafflegab…you and JoeC are good at this…we should start a contest!

        • Actually, I’ve argued that it’s both. I think that there are people in the CPC who legitimately believe that the world was created 6000 years ago, etc. I also think that they appeal to ethos and pathos (their personal character and base emotions), i.e. pandering. But I think that’s further down.

          I have no doubt that malice has a lot to do with Harper’s decision making. It’s one of my pet theories that he’s a sociopath.

    • Okay, let’s look at what you are saying there. I disagree that science is ideological. The desire to bring science in to deal with a problem, that is idealogical, I suppose. But the desire to bring science in is the desire to base decisions on facts and knowledge. So being ideologically opposed to that, in essence, means you do not want facts and knowledge to inform your decision. With me on this thus far?
      So why on earth would anyone vote for a party that says we don’t need facts and we don’t need knowledge to know what to do. Because, well, people do vote for that party, and I’ve never understood it.

      • Ideology: a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy: the ideology of republicanism.• the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual. (Oxford American Dictionary)
        So seeing as that’s what ideology means, I don’t see how science isn’t an ideology, particularly when it is cited as the basis for political theory and policy as it is in this article. Again, I don’t think that it’s a bad thing – I support evidence-based policy making.
        The appeal to evidence in support of one’s arguments, etc. is a form of rhetoric, at least in the classical sense, which is what I meant. This is important for properly situating science – it’s a particular way of making arguments, among other things.
        The reason I wanted to bring this out is that the CPC appeal to other forms of rhetoric to make their arguments – typically ethos and pathos, or appeals to their own good character (though how anyone still believes that is beyond me) and to the emotions of their audience.
        If you don’t believe in someone’s episteme, you don’t put much weight in it’s results, hence their lack of interest in research, etc. This is the same for those of us (myself included) who don’t believe in Biblical interpretation as a broadly applicable source of knowledge. But many of them do, and that (and other things, I’m sure) are their sources of knowledge. Neither side recognizes the sources of the other as valid, so both view the knowledge of the other as valid, either.
        I think that comes from two things: One is that it’s just easier than making arguments based on logic, evidence, and so forth. Those require sustained attention and engagement, and we know how widespread that is these days. Second is that, at least from what I’ve seen, don’t share the same confidence in the epistemology of science (e.g. empiricism) as some others do.
        I think that, if you don’t think of science as an ideology and an epistemology, you can’t really give a convincing explanation of why some people reject it. This is about competing ideologies, epistemologies, and rhetorical styles.
        The fact that some scientists and their supporters refuse to acknowledge that they are the supporters of an ideology, etc. that arose out of particular historical circumstances, etc., and that it doesn’t have the answers to everything (i.e. it’s episteme is useful for understanding some things but not others) is part of their strategy to present their position as natural in source and universal in its usefulness and application.

        • I disagree on this last statement as well. I believe science does give us the means to understand absolutely everything.. that we don’t yet isn’t a failure of the model, but rather of us in our application thereof.

          • How to live a meaningful life? Ethics? How to interpret art?

            In short, science is not an epistemology for generating or interpreting meaning. Meaning is of comparable importance to us as a species as survival. It can even surpass it at times.

          • Science can certainly provide us ethics. When you think about it, ethics is simply a short-cut measure for calculating cost-benefit ratio on a societal scale. Science doesn’t need the short-cuts and can take us to correct answers on these questions, regardless as to whether they appeal to our emotions.

            Science not only provides us with interpretations of art, but also provides us with insight on how people interpret art, and will interpret art. Computer modelling is already creating art, especially music, designed to evoke specific moods — that is, designed to drive interpretation.

            And how to live a meaningful life is an epistemology all on its own. What on earth says our lives have to be meaningful? Trying to understand that is like trying to understand magic and saying science can’t do it is assuming there’s any “it” there to begin with.

          • “ethics is simply a short-cut measure for calculating cost-benefit ratio on a societal scale”

            That’s a utilitarian ethic. It’s one kind of ethics that can use scientific method as a means of judging utility, but it’s not science (though it does come about at around the same time as science). But there are lots of other kinds of ethics, and utilitarianism can lead to some very problematic decisions.

            The foundation of our ethical systems, and everything else that we do, including science, is always informed by the visceral. Say what you will about Freud, but he was absolutely right about that. This has been proven pretty conclusively by scientists, who have shown that our emotions are always deeply involved in our reasoning processes.

            So there is no ethical system, or anything else human for that matter, that is not strongly driven by emotions. And I’m not sure why we’d want to ascribe to an ethical system that isn’t grounded in our emotions anyway, particularly our empathy and compassion (combined with wisdom, of course).

            I would be fascinated to see where you’re getting your info on science and art. I’m friends with a bunch of artists and art historians, and while the latter use scientific techniques to a provide data for their interpretations (i.e. carbon dating), the science does not provide an interpretation. We still need people for that.

            And the ways in which people will react to art are simply unpredictable. More importantly, people create incredibly diverse interpretations of the same piece of art. They can even be totally contradictory.

            So how would science provide an interpretation of a painting, for instance? They might be able to date it, analyze its components, etc. But while that might contribute to how someone interprets it, it’s not much of an interpretation on its own, is it?

            With regards to meaningful lives: Of course we don’t have to live meaningfully in the sense of living a rich life. But our lives always have narratives to them, even if it’s a nihilistic one. The question of how we should live is a perennial human dilemma, one that is highlighted by this article:

            What are our obligations to other human beings? Does nationality matter? Do financial status, class, or caste? While you may want to invoke data (i.e. relationships between poverty and crime, etc.), it ultimately is a visceral decision we make.

            I think we both agree that we have a greater obligation to refugees than our government does, but is that a decision we’ve made based on a careful cost-benefit analysis of carefully done studies, or is it based on the simple fact that we care about other people a bit more, regardless of their nationality or financial status? I personally hope that it starts based on compassion, which is then bolstered by analysis, scientific and otherwise, that can help guide us as we consider how to best act on the drive to help our fellow humans.

            But the idea that things that fall outside of the scope of science’s epistemology aren’t of value or are inherently non-existent, if that is what you are suggesting, is bizarre to me.

      • To clarify:
        1) I believe that evidence should be a key foundation of public policy.

        2) I don’t really understand why people vote for the CPC. But I don’t think that they say “we don’t need facts” etc. I think, as I said in my other post (apologies for the lack of proper paragraphs there; I’m not sure why that happened), that they are employing other modes of rhetoric, ones that have proven much more effective in the past 6 years or so than those of anyone promoting evidence-based policy.

        But then politicians almost always thrive or fail based on ethos and/or pathos rather than logos. That’s democracy.

    • Without a doubt, scientific inquiry can be motivated by ideology, i.e. “Unicorns are real and I shall prove they are!” or “The Flemish are inferior”. And then you do some science. Likely, you can’t find an objective proof for unicorns or Flemish inferiority. If you do find these to be the case, your peers will try to replicate the methods by which you reached these findings. If they replicate these findings, vindication is yours. If they cannot replicate those findings…back to the drawing board

      Now, let’s assume the latter.

      If you now take as observable fact that there are no unicorns or that the Flemish are fine, you’ve approximated science. If you continue to believe in unicorns or inferior Flems, voila, ideology.

      You either accept the validity of the scientific method, or yer agin’it. If you’re saying the current crop of government prefers the latter tack – they don’t want their zany ideas held up to any sort of critical scrutiny on the off chance they’re wrong – agreed. But if you’re saying science is, by it’s characteristics, ideological, bzzzzt. Wrong. Science, done right, cannot be ideological.

      • I’m not talking about the pejorative use of ideology (or rhetoric for that matter, though adherents of scientism take both to such an extreme that they sure fit the pejorative uses, too, but that’s beside the point). I’m talking about it as it is defined in the Oxford Dictionary.

        To cite it again: “a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy: the ideology of republicanism.• the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual.”
        Science: A system of ideas and ideals? Check
        One that forms the basis of political theory and ideology? According to the author of the article and some in the comments here it can be (and I agree!), Check.
        The ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, etc.? I think they call themselves “scientists.” Check.
        Given those definitions of ideology, I don’t see how science isn’t one. I don’t think that’s good or bad, it just is.
        Regardless of that, scientific inquiry is ALWAYS motivated by the visceral, like everything we do. Ideology can be a part of that, as you’ve said.

  3. Way to go! lets start saving our resources for those of us who work, live, pay and play in this country. Not those who are “health care seeking tourists” as Minister Kenney states.

    • It is shocking that our ‘minister of immigration’ doesn’t even know what a refugee is.

    • You realize this logic applies equally well to police services, courts, and basically everything that makes us a civilized society? That you are essentially saying that we should act as savages toward these people?

      I mean, if you’re cool with that, fine. It’s a logical, if unpalatable, position to hold, and you’re welcome to define yourself that way. Personally, I want Canada to be more than that.

    • Indeed. Aren’t we already planning to spend billions on F-35s for (bombing) these people?

    • Indeed. They should ‘live, pay and play’ in their own rape-inflicting, torture-practicing, opposition-oppressing, free-speech-suppressing and opportunity-denying sumptuous paradises!

  4. I consider these cuts to be inhumane frankly. As a Canadian-born citizen I already have a basis by which to be able to afford for example medications, because I’ve long lived in our affluent society and have had the opportunity to benefit from it.
    Some poor sap who comes here with nothing from a war torn hell hole does not generally have that capacity.
    Assuming the worst about people before they have an opportunity to prove themselves is just mean spirited. You can’t really dance around that fact.
    If we’re accepting these people as refugees, then we have an initial responsibility to care for them given their wretched state.
    I wouldn’t be against means testing, that just makes good sense, but for those in need I think we have an obvious moral responsibility here.
    Perhaps if we were better at integrating new comers and ensuring their employment and thus ability to contribute to society, this wouldn’t be such a hot button issue?
    I don’t know, but either way I think leaving people in need hanging like this for the sake of $20 000 a year is just small minded.
    How is it these people supposedly represent the religious? There’s nothing Christ-like about this decision at all.

    • The big thing Phil is that those refugees who are not healthy (have TB or HIV or the like) and cannot work, will be given free pharmaceuticals, and all benefits of any Canadian on sick disability. The other refugees who are healthy will be treated like Canada’s working poor…no value-added benefits (v. people on welfare you have these benefits). I am not sure about other provinces but Alberta does have a cheap Blue Cross program for people that costs little to join and pays a substantial part of your prescription medication costs. It is open to everyone. Also, there is an eyeglasses “bus” that provides free eyeglasses for people who are poor but not on welfare. The program collects donated glasses from citizens and then puts new lens in them. As for dental care, I am not aware of any programs for working poor. It may seem inhumane but then the crux of the matter is that our healthcare system not providing pharmaceutical, dental & eyecare for poor Canadians (with the exception of those on disability and welfare) is inhumane. Perhaps we need to be outraged on behalf of all poor people in this country that aren’t receiving the basics of life. This has been going on for a long time. Ask your physician how many of his patients can’t afford antibiotics when their kids get sick and rely on samples he gets from pharmaceutical companies.

      • Wakeup where do you live not in Quebec thats for sure,its people like you that perpetuate the problems!Try waiting a year for a operation and nave one of your family die before you get the operation,Some people make me sick!

    • BooHoo!
      What about the people in our own country who weren’t born with a silver spoon in thier mouths, who work at low paying jobs becasue they didn’t have the means to earn a higher education- or the support of family/community? who do not have free eye exams, dental or prescription drugs?
      You know – the working poor. or those too proud to beg the people with a degree but no real life experience in the streets, for welfare benefits.
      I think that this is an astute move.
      If doctors, dentists, and other well-paid healthcare professionals are so concerned about the refugees, let them donate their time, and money to providing the extras for them. But they want to ensure that they continue to be able to make big bucks off of taxpayers for these people. .
      But there is way too much medical tourism as it is. My sister works in a clinic in
      Vancouver, and it isn’t just the refugees who take advantage of all the freebies.
      And the doctors and nurses will not turn anyone away – even wealthy Japanese students, who use their medical expense money from home ot party and shop….

      • I agree 100%!

  5. Julie, I am perplexed. You are quoting an Oregon study about “insured” healthcare. What the federal government is talking about is taking away pharmaceutical, dental & vision coverage, not de-insuring the refugee’s “healthcare”. The refugees will still be able to visit a physician for free just like any other Canadian and should they find themselves with a life-threatening illness or one that is contagious or harmful to the public, their medication will be covered. This change in “extended healthcare coverage” will put them inline with what other Canadians who aren’t on welfare or don’t have additional private insurance have. It is hardly the same thing as them arriving in the US and having no healthcare coverage. If they get cancer, no one is going to cut off their benefits. They will receive full treatment as any Canadian would.

  6. Not providing health care is a human rights violation. As an American, I don’t have any health coverage. I have not had any health insurance in nearly 10 years, and I had a hefty amount of medical debt that I took into bankruptcy 7 years ago. I cannot believe Canada would look to the United States for any guidance on anything, let alone public health. You do realize that we spend more on health care than any other industrialized nation, we have worse outcomes, and we don’t even provide the most basic health care for nearly 50 million people? That’s right, 50,000,000 people do not have even the most basic health care in the USA. How we treat people who cannot do anything for us is the true mark of our character, and the United States even treats their own citizens like disposable cogs in a giant machine. Do you really want to be like that?

    • Refugees WILL have healthcare coverage. They just won’t have the extra coverage that NO Canadian has unless they are on welfare or permanent disability or they are First Nations people. That is drug coverage while out of hospital, eye-glass coverage and dental coverage. The majority of Canadians receive benefits for medications, eye-glasses and dental coverage by paying for it through a private health insurance plan through their work or on their own. In NO way is this comparable to what is happening in your country. All Canadians and refugees can walk into a doctor’s office or a hospital at anytime and receive full care for FREE. That will not change. All Canadians and refugees receive treatment for illness with no limit on the amount to be spent for FREE and that will not change. The only thing that changes is that refugees and their doctors will have to come up with ways to pay for their own prescription medications like high blood pressure medication, diabetes drugs and antibiotics. Refugees and their eye doctors will have to come up with ways to pay for their eye glasses. Refugees and their dentists will have to come up with ways to pay for their dental care. As someone who has worked in healthcare for a long time with many people who have no coverage, I can tell you that their are affordable medication programs availalbe and pharmaceutical companies will provide months of compassionate suppy for people who have limited income. The fact is that physicians and healthcare workers are going to have to be alot more creative.

  7. It does make sense to look solely at the upfront costs, given that only 38% of refugee claims were accepted last year (and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to be that low or lower until sometime after 2015) and most asylum seekers will never enter the broader health system anyway. I agree with the observation that there is research to be done on the costs down the line, but it seems that upfront costs are going to represent the bulk of spending in this area.

    Regardless of that, though, the amount spent on refugee health is half of a drop in the bucket of overall health spending and it should be a moral imperative to treat the most vulnerable people in a society.

    • What makes you believe that “most asylum seekers will never enter the broader health care system?” Do you understand that many of our refugees come from third world, war-ravaged countries where diseases such as TB and HIV are very common. The Canadian healthcare system has in the past and will continue now and in the future to fully treat all of these patients and provide them with living expenses while they cannot work. Given the nature of these illnesses, many of these people are unable to work for at least a year.
      Some of the diseases such as TB require that the patient visit the nurse daily and take their medication “under supervision”. This illness, which is almost entirely diagnosed in new immigrants to Canada and those people who have travelled to countries where it is endemic, is very costly to treat, especially given the rise in treatment-resitant forms of the illness. The healthcare system is not a bottomless pit of money. If we are going to supply outpatient medications, outpatient dentistry and outpatient eye glasses, we have to do some major re-working of the system. It isn’t right that we provide one group with it because they came from outside Canada and then ignore vulnerable Canadians who are poor and can’t afford to go to the dentist. In the meantime, it behooves those of us who work in healthcare to start coming up with better strategies for saving healthcare dollars and providing the needy with the necessities of life including medications, dental care and eye-glasses…no matter how long they have been in Canada.

      • I’m (perhaps incorrectly) defining an asylum seeker as someone who is in this country but whose refugee claim has not been processed yet. In the last 2 years, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 62% of refugee claims were rejected. This means that many of these people won’t be in Canada long term to, as Minister Kenney heartlessly put it, “abuse Canada’s generosity.” My point was that the upfront costs don’t necessarily translate to long term costs because the number of people accessing services is dramatically different at each time, and I think that this is the logic behind the decision, even if I don’t agree with it.

        Also, I’d suggest doing some reading on health benefits that are available to working poor in provinces besides your own before generalizing.

    • the amount spent on refugee health is half of a drop in the bucket of overall health spending ”
      And these drops add up.
      A drop here a drop there, a fedw more drops. . . . when does it stop….The dripping of this that and the other thngs, is draining taxpayers- many who can’t afford medical care for glasses dentistry, or prescriptions, for themselves.
      We can’t save the world. Charity begins at home. Take care of our own first, then if there is extr, fine. Or have the folks so intent on these people getting care use their own money to supply their needs.
      Let them put their money where their mouths are…..They don’t have to have the 5000 square foot homes, the three luxury cars, trailer, boat, designer clothing, eat out every night ( and not at McD’s), and take luxury spa vacations. . .

  8. What happened Canada? You used to be cool…

    • COOL isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
      You are welcome to supply strangers with drugs, dental, and eye care.
      Those of us who aren’t “cool” would rather help those in our own neighbourhoods who are suffering – and are often to proud to look for handouts.