States must ensure that people who lack regular immigration status have access to essential health care services

By Rosie Awori

A joint collective of concerned groups have come together to call on the federal government to act on the landmark United Nation Human Rights Committee’s (UNHRC) decision on health care access for migrants.
On August 14, the UNHRC condemned Canada for denying access to essential health care on the basis of immigration status based on the case of Nell Toussaint. The ruling declared that in protecting the right to life, states ought to ensure that people who lack regular immigration status – also known as irregular migrants – have access to essential health care services.

Grenadian-born, Nell Toussaint, entered Canada as a visitor in 1999, but stayed on without documentation to live and work in Canada.
She began the process to regularize her immigration status in 2005, but the process was delayed. And in 2008 she developed serious health problems requiring medical treatment. She had some access to emergency health care, but was denied access to other essential health care available through Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) due to her irregular immigration status.
Some of the organizations in this collective are: BC Health Coalition, Injured workers community legal clinic, Canadian centre on statelessness, Shelter Health Network, Planned Parenthood, and Imagine.
The collective are asking that the government:
1.    Complies with the UNHRC’s order to review existing laws and policies regarding health care coverage for irregular migrants
2.    Ensure appropriate resource allocation, so that all people in Canada are provided universal and equitable access to health care services, regardless of immigration status
3.    Provide Neil Toussaint with adequate compensation for the significant harm she has suffered as a result of not receiving essential health care services.