National Day of Action rally for refugee health-care in Saskatoon

Today marks the National Day of Action for refugee health-care where health professionals rally for a change.

Refugee health cuts "cruel and unusual," says Federal Court

Today marks the fourth National Day of Action drawing attention to refugee health care.

Health care professionals from Victoria to St. John's are rallying across the country calling on the federal government to reinstate refugee health services as part of the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).

Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care will rally in Saskatoon, which is among the 20 cities taking part.

Last July, a judge ruled that federal cuts to refugee health care were unconstitutional, and were called a form of "cruel and unusual treatment." Ottawa was ordered to restore the coverage by the Federal Court of Canada.

Dr. Med Rashid is the medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. He said this was a partial victory for those who opposed the cuts because it extended health care for children and pregnant women, but the cuts are also very complicated.

Rashid said the public hears that this only applies to refugee claimants but this isn't necessarily true. He said when refugees initially arrive in Canada there is a six-week delay to get their IFHP initiated. So if anything happens within that time period, there is no coverage provided. 

He said the cuts are very complicated and also causes confusion for physicians.

"There are well intentioned health-care workers that want to help this population but now we're responsible for trying to understand what kind of refugee they are and where they are in their migration process," Rashid said." Are they a claimant versus privately sponsored? You know, some health conditions are covered while others aren't."

Now, legal battles are underway as the government is appealing the decision. This could potentially take away benefits from pregnant women and children.