Ottawa’s treatment of refugees is shocking – André Picard

Hard to disagree with Picard’s assessment:

The IFHP cuts outraged physicians who provide care to immigrants and refugees and non-governmental organizations who sponsor them because they were mean-spirited, bureaucratic and ethically challenging.

They also “saved” very little money; IFHP costs fell to about $65-million. But those savings were illusory because refugees did to not stop having babies, getting sick and suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, regardless of their country of origin. They just ended up emergency rooms, where no one is turned away and, having no insurance, they were billed, bills they could not pay. Essentially, the costs were shifted from Ottawa to cash-strapped hospitals; in response, a number of provinces offered health coverage to refugee claimants but grudgingly, because it’s Ottawa’s jurisdiction and responsibility, constitutionally.

There was also a lawsuit and, in a landmark ruling this past July, Madam Justice Anne Mactavish ruled, to no one’s surprise, that the cuts were unconstitutional. What was surprising was the court deeming the cuts to be “cruel and unusual punishment” because they were aimed at the most poor and oppressed among us, targeted at “innocent and vulnerable children in a manner that shocks the conscience and outrages our standards of decency.” Judge Mactavish gave the government four months to fully restore the program.

The government’s response to being chastised in this manner was to dig in its heels. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, once a respected diplomat, hinted the order would be defied. The government went to court and asked for the Nov. 4 deadline to be extended, which a judge rejected out-of-hand.

Then, at the last minute, on the court-imposed deadline, Mr. Alexander announced that the ruling would be appealed and, in the meantime, the program would be restored, but only partially and temporarily.

This is as shocking – if not more so – than the original cuts.

The IFHP should have been fully restored to its pre-2012 form. Period. No ifs, ands or buts.

Since when is a government allowed to partially respect a court order? How is this not contempt of court? The government has every right to appeal a court ruling but it should treat the institution with respect, not crass cynicism.

Ottawa’s treatment of refugees is shocking – The Globe and Mail.

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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