Refugee health cuts: Not cruel but unusual – Colby Cosh

Colby Cosh takes a self-critical look at journalists and commentators on how they influenced the refugee claimant healthcare decision:

This is pleasing to the ego, yet I am not as confident as Justice Mactavish that the Conservative cuts to the old refugee health arrangements are shocking to Canadians. One obvious problem with using pundits as an index of conscience is that people who are angry about something will write about it, and people who aren’t, won’t.

The old IFHP provided not only the health care ordinarily given free to citizens by the provinces, but also extra entitlements working Canadians typically devote part of their paycheques to, including drug coverage, vision care, dentistry and contraception. Refugee claimants typically became eligible for IFHP immediately upon setting foot in the country—and remained eligible until they were removed from Canada, even if their refugee claims failed. ….

These [diabetic Afghan, Colombian eye surgery] are hard cases that could have been rectified by means of modest tweaks. Justice Mactavish instead threw out the whole 2012 IFHP revision, citing a further panoply of ill-documented or downright hypothetical cases in which the effects of the revised IFHP might also be “cruel and unusual.”

This procedure has met with near-universal approval from journalists. We, after all, sort of helped write the ruling. But what if the Conservatives run against it in 2015, challenging the media’s reading of the nation’s “general conscience”. . . and they win? Should we really be so sure we speak for you?

Valid points, but part of the role of journalists is to draw issues to our attention, and the decision likely relied more on the testimony of doctors and healthcare experts than journalists. And the Government, as in so many cases, by aiming for simple and simplistic solutions, along with its apparent lack of evidence (not to mention rhetoric), did not help itself. Refugee health cuts: Not cruel but unusual.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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