Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Time Is Up on Changes to Refugee Health Care, Court Tells Government

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Time Is Up on Changes to Refugee Health Care, Court Tells Government

Article excerpt

Feds lose bid to delay refugee health case


TORONTO - The Federal Court of Appeal has rejected the Conservative government's efforts to buy more time before implementing a new policy of health care for refugee claimants.

Ottawa had been seeking a stay of a Federal Court decision from July that gave it until next Tuesday to put in place a coverage system for refugee health care claims that is in keeping with the Constitution.

A Federal Court of Appeal judge has now turned down that request.

"The appellants' motion for an order staying the judgment ... is dismissed," Judge Wyman Webb wrote in the decision released late Friday.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was critical of the decision.

"Our government disagrees with the court's flawed decision and will continue to do what's necessary to protect the interests of Canadian taxpayers and genuine refugees," Kevin Menard said in an email.

Lawyers for the refugee claimants who brought the case had argued the stay was unnecessary as the government could just revert to the pre-2012 system (referred to in Friday's decision as the 1957 program), which granted coverage to everyone.

The Conservatives had implemented a new refugee health care program in 2012 which drastically cut coverage and meted it out depending on the nature of the refugee claim itself.

They argued that since the old program is no longer operational, the four months given by the Federal Court to create a new one wasn't enough time.

In his decision, Webb said allowing the stay would have meant saddling affected refugees with reduced health-care coverage for an undetermined period while the case continued to churn through the courts.

"It seems to me that the effect of denying the stay (which would mean that the changes to the 1957 program ... would not be made) would be to defer these changes until the final resolution of the appeal, if the appellants are successful," he wrote.

"The harm that would be caused by reverting to the 1957 program . …

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