TORONTO, April 14 /CNW/ - Students delivered thousands of petitions today to Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, calling for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage to be extended to international students. While the Ontario government places a high priority on the internationalisation of post-secondary education and the economy, international students and postdoctoral fellows - alongside their dependents - have been excluded from OHIP since 1994.
"International students were excluded from OHIP coverage in 1994 and as a result, risk not being treated at Ontario hospitals," said Hamid Osman, National Executive Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "International students are forced to pay for an expensive private health insurance plan that only provides very limited emergency coverage, with no guarantee of health service in the case of an emergency if they cannot pay up front."
The mandatory private health insurance plan has created barriers to accessing health care for international students in the province. "The private health insurance plan that international students are forced to purchase is not accepted universally by physicians, hospitals and clinics in Ontario," said Lise de Montbrun, International Students Commissioner of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "Instead, these students and workers are faced with up front, out-of-pocket expenses and bills in excess of the OHIP rates because they are limited by their private health insurance plans."
International students contribute more than two billion dollars annually to Ontario's economy, yet they are not able to access full emergency health benefits from the province. "Despite the valuable contributions that international students provide to the province's post-secondary institutions and economy, they don't have the same access to the basic health care that the rest of Ontario residents have," said Osman.
The petitions are part of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario campaign "Healthcare without Borders" and were signed by students from all regions of Ontario.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000 college and university students at 37 students' unions across the province, including domestic and international students at the college, undergraduate and graduate levels.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario
For further information: For further information: Hamid Osman, National Executive Representative, (416) 925-3825 or (647) 448-2823 (cell); Joel Duff, Organiser, (416) 925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell)