A Nova Scotia man says his family may be forced to shell out thousands of dollars to cover his wife's chemotherapy costs because of a backlog in processing visa applications due to escalating job action measures by Canada's foreign service officers.
Jeanault Lasnier, of Musquodoboit Harbour, married Isabel Vivas last December in Toronto, where the couple lives. Vivas had been diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer a couple of months earlier and the couple said their wedding celebration was a welcome break from appointments and tests.
"It was very sweet. It was very romantic and cheesy," Vivas told CBC News on Tuesday from the couple's home in Toronto.
Vivas, who is Venezuelan, is in Canada on a student visa. Her medical costs are covered by the visa, which gives her insurance. That ends in August.
Lasnier said his wife can get health-care coverage if she's sponsored as a permanent resident, but those applications are delayed by a work-to-rule campaign abroad and in Canada.
The federal government and the union representing diplomats and immigration officers abroad have been locked in a contract negotiation battle for months. As part of escalating job action measures, diplomats at key visa application centres — including Beijing, Delhi, Sao Paolo and Mexico City — have withdrawn their services.
"Her insurance may lapse before the health coverage will come through, which means we're going to be left trying to pay out-of-pocket," said Lasnier.
The couple has been told Vivas's treatment will cost $6,000 a month.
Lasnier's mother, who lives in East Chezzetcook, said she's heartbroken.
"I feel unable to help them, very powerless," said Carole Chandler.
Another issue is the couple's honeymoon. In addition to her residency permit, Vivas has applied for a travel visa to let her come and go from the country.
"One of the reasons why we're sensitive on time is because they told us, 'If you have stuff to do, like a honeymoon or if you have family you want to visit, now is the time because we can't guarantee you'll have that time later,'" Lasnier said.
But travel visas are also backlogged by the work-to-rule campaign. The couple said they have no choice but to hope their application makes it through.
In the meantime, Vivas said she is dreaming of her honeymoon and a break from it all.
"Maybe go to Greece. I just want to go somewhere that is nice and sunny with a beautiful view where I can relax all the time," she said.