Winnipeggers rally for better health care for refugees

Dozens of Winnipeggers gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights today to protest cuts to refuge health-care services by the federal government.

'Many times refugees are just not getting care,' says Winnipeg Dr. Cynthia Sawatzky

Dozens of Winnipeggers rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights today calling for better health-care services for refugees. 1:25

Dozens of Winnipeggers rallied at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights today calling for better health-care services for refugees.

Demonstrators were drawing attention to 2012 cuts to refugee health-care services by the Conservative government.

Dr. Cynthia Sawatzky, a family physician in Winnipeg, said the federal assistance for refugees is better in Manitoba than it is in other provinces like Ontario, but it still needs work.
Dozens of people gathered outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Monday to protest cuts to refugee health-care services by the Conservative government. (CBC)
Dr. Cynthia Sawatzky said often times refugees in Canada are not getting the health-care services they need. (CBC)

"Here in Manitoba, I'm fortunate as a health-care provider that the refugees that I treat do get a health card and a PHIN number, and largely ... I don't have to deny them access to clinical care or investigations."

Even so, Sawatzky said in other provinces, like Ontario, refugees can be turned away from accessing basic services, including walk-in clinic care.

"Doctors find the whole process extremely cumbersome, full of red tape," said Sawatzky. "It's very unclear who's covered for what and what's not, and so many times refugees are just not getting care in the clinics."

The Conservative government is appealing a federal court decision that recently ruled the cuts were unconstitutional.

The protesters agreed with the ruling and want the appeal quashed.