Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is to be credited for his efforts to improve the efficiency of the refugee adjudication process by shortening wait times, hastening removals and other reforms. But taking away health-care benefits from people who are waiting for a hearing or an appeal, as he has also done, is not smart public policy. As long as these claimants remain in Canada, the government should pay for their health care – both for humanitarian reasons, and in the interest of Canadians.
The decision to restrict the Interim Federal Health Program means that refugee claimants from designated countries are no longer able to receive medical care, except in emergencies. Prescriptions for insulin or heart medication are not covered, pregnant women have no access to prenatal care, and the children of asylum seekers cannot receive immunizations.