TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - Two organizations representing nurses and primary health care agencies have filed a motion for intervener status with the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) and the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres (CACHC) want to present arguments when the court hears an appeal of a July 2014 ruling regarding health benefits for refugee claimants.
In the decision under appeal, Justice Mactavish struck down controversial changes the Stephen Harper government made to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), describing them as "cruel and unusual" treatment that could potentially put "lives at risk". Justice Mactavish gave the government until this month to revise its policy.
The June 2012 changes to IFHP effectively left refugee claimants and their families without access to primary health care, including prescription drugs.
RNAO is seeking intervener status so that the Federal Court of Appeal can hear the views of registered nurses and nurse practitioners who provide care for those affected by the federal government's changes to IFHP. "The health cuts imposed by Prime Minister Harper and his government have had a devastating effect on refugees and their families. Refugees who arrive in Canada have already lived tragic lives and come in need of help. They face huge challenges and the last thing they need is to be denied access to care," says Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive Officer of RNAO. "Such vindictive and counter-productive action against refugee claimants is an offense to Canadian values," Grinspun adds.
CACHC says obtaining intervener status would provide the Federal Court of Appeal with insight from community health centres, which for the past 80 years have been providing care and support to refugees through inter-professional teams of nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, social workers, settlement workers, health promoters and other providers. "Denying refugee claimants access to primary health care is poor public policy," says Scott Wolfe, Executive Director of CACHC. "It causes immediate harm to vulnerable individuals and families, as well as mass confusion and delays within the health system. It also downloads added costs to the provincial health systems on which all Canadians rely."
The two health groups say no government should be allowed to implement policies that pose a risk to people's lives and contravene the foundational principles of our health system.
RNAO and CACHC are being represented by Rahool Agarwal, Rachel Bendayan, John M. Picone, and Amelie Aubut from the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright Canada.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca. You can also check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.
The Canadian Association of Community Health Centres (CACHC) is the federal voice for Community Health Centres and community-oriented, people-centred primary health care across Canada. CACHC advocates re-orientation of health services to increase emphasis on preventing illness and to improve access to Community Health Centres as a high-quality, cost-effective method for ensuring comprehensive primary health care. More information about CACHC may be found at CACHC.ca. You may also connect with CACHC on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE: Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: To arrange an interview, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO, Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605, [email protected]; Scott Wolfe, Executive Director, CACHC, Cell: 416-839-0531 / Phone: 416-922-5694, [email protected]