There was no press release pointing to an eleventh-hour turnaround. In fact, in an an email to Postmedia News, the minister’s press secretary firmly denied there had been any change and said government-assisted refugees were never expected to lose supplemental benefits. “Minister Kenney has said multiple times that GARs would be treated the same as they are now,” including pharmaceutical coverage, said spokeswoman Alexis Pavlich, Kenney’s press secretary.
“We follow this very closely and we’ve never heard that from Minister Kenney,” says Dr. Med Rashid, a Toronto family physician and member of Doctors for Refugee Health, an ad hoc group formed to fight the changes. “We’ve called them out on this many times, pointing out that GARs are affected, and we’ve never had a statement from them on it.”