Injured TFWs deserve support, say Alberta doctors

The Alberta Medical Association is speaking out on the plight of temporary workers injured in Alberta.

Injured TFW, Maria Victoria Venancio, says AMA letter offers hope

Maria Victoria Venancio was struck by a car in Edmonton nearly three years ago while biking to work.

The Alberta Medical Association is speaking out on the plight of temporary workers injured in Alberta.

In a letter to a doctor advocating for Maria Victoria Venancio, AMA president Dr. Richard Johnston said temporary workers who come to Canada to contribute to the economy deserve support.

"​The need for care and support does not end because a worker is due or required to leave the province," Johnston wrote.

Venancio, 29, a worker from the Philippines, was hit by a car in June 2012 while riding her bike to work. The crash left her a quadriplegic and because she couldn't work her visa was not renewed.

Johnston said there needs to be clear definitions about when the province's responsibility for health care for TFWs begins and ends, adding that once a person starts receiving medical care it's important for the care to be completed.

"The corporations for whom the individual works should also bear some obligation," he added.

Letter offers hope, says Venancio

Venancio, who is suing her former employer, says the AMA's response offers hope to her and others in her situation.

"It's great news not only for me but for people who have the same situation as me," she said.

In an interview with CBC, Venancio questioned why temporary workers pay taxes and into benefits like Canadian-born workers, but when TFWs get sick or into an accident and require benefits the most, they are no longer available. 

The AMA is the latest organization to advocate for Venancio. Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi, former Edmonton MP David Kilgour, prominent Fort McMurray doctor John O'Connor and former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk have all urged the province to reinstate Venancio's health care and for the federal government to allow her to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

In April, former Health Minister Stephen Mandel rejected a call to provide healthcare coverage to Venancio.

Alberta's new Health Minister, Sarah Hoffman, was not available for comment.