Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is criticizing a federal decision to deny chemotherapy to a refugee as “unbelievable” and un-Canadian.

Wall says he doesn’t understand the rationale behind the move.

“It’s unbelievable that some of the decisions that have been taken federally are having this impact on people who are clearly the most vulnerable, refugees who are obviously fleeing something quite terrible—that’s why they’re refugees,” Wall said Thursday.

“On the face of it, you just consider the case of this particular gentleman or others who, for example, as it was pointed out … might need prenatal care, this is just common sense. You just do this.

“This is the kind of country we are. You cover it.”

The man arrived in Saskatoon several months ago after fleeing a Middle Eastern country where he was persecuted for being Christian. Soon after arriving, he started having abdominal pain and was diagnosed with cancer.

The federal government said it would not pay for chemotherapy, Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan revealed Wednesday.

Ottawa announced changes in the spring to the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides temporary health coverage for protected persons, refugee claimants and other groups not eligible for provincial health insurance.

Under those changes, some refugee claimants saw cuts to their drug, dental and vision coverage. Additionally, those whose refugee claims are rejected and those from a yet-to-be defined list of “safe” countries will only receive medical care if their condition is deemed a risk to public health or safety.

The federal government said it hopes the changes will deter bogus refugee claims and ensure failed asylum seekers don’t take advantage of Canada’s free health care.

A call to federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office for comment was not returned Thursday.

However, Kenney outlined the rules in response to a question in the House of Commons.

“A genuine refugee comes to Canada as a permanent resident and therefore qualifies for comprehensive provincial health insurance. Rejected asylum claimants and pending asylum claimants are not refugees until they are determined to be so by our fair and generous legal system, during which time they receive comprehensive health insurance but not extended benefits,” he said.

“Those who are rejected and are pending removal are effectively illegal immigrants.”

Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who raised the issue in the House, said the position is pretty harsh.

“You get to the bottom line and essentially the government of Canada is saying that these people, who previously had some degree of coverage before the budget cuts and the policy change in the spring, are simply on their own,” Goodale said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

“And if that leads to serious health problems or potentially even their passing away, that’s not a federal issue—and that’s a pretty callous position.”

Duncan had said Wednesday that confusion abounds. He said provinces are frustrated because there is a lack of clarity in terms of what Ottawa will continue to cover.

Saskatchewan has picked up the tab for the man’s chemotherapy.

“This country is rich. We are rich beyond measure compared to the countries where these folks are fleeing from and so it’s our view that we should just be there to help.

“That’s kind of a basic Canadian value, I think,” said Wall.

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  • NYB

    A typical response from a ignorant liberal who believes in “helping the little guy”. Other people’s money can be thrown away at any bleeding-heart sob story, regardless of the costly precedent it will set.

    “The man arrived in Saskatoon several months ago after fleeing a Middle Eastern country”

    An illegal’s transcontinental, border-crashing journey from halfway around the world involves deceit and likely criminal behaviour, yet the media lightly terms it an innocent “arrival”, no questions asked.

    The Middle East is literally full of these people trying to get a leg into white countries.

    When the media suspends critical analysis, fools fill the void.

    • Katherine McChesney

      He is a Christian.

      • FourFooted_Messiah

        So? Feed him to the lions, then.

      • FourFooted_Messiah

        Again, who cares? He still doesn’t belong here, and should not be entitled to “free” health care that Canadians pay for. I am VERY glad they cut “refugees” off from free dental and eye care, something Canadians do not get unless they are on welfare/disability, or pay for through Blue Cross!

  • mobilebay

    First world nations are being overwhelmed with refugees or illegal aliens from third world countries. They cannot absorb nor pay for them. Many of them, especially the US, send obscene amounts of money to those countries, then are expected to take in their people too. There has to be a line drawn. Life isn’t always fair. Help can be extended if it can be overseen and it gets to the people rather than corrupt governments, but not at the expense of others. When first world nations go, then all fail.

  • greg0901

    ““This country is rich. We are rich beyond measure compared to the countries where these folks are fleeing from and so it’s our view that we should just be there to help.”

    OK. When can we expect you to pay for Mohammed’s chemotherapy?

    PS: I am not rich or anything like it, unless by “rich” you mean “drowning in student loan debt”.

    • George

      In that this fellow is a Christian fleeing Moslem persecution, it’s rather unlikely his parents named him after the paedophile prophet.

      • FourFooted_Messiah

        Who cares who he is named after? He still doesn’t belong here, and doesn’t deserve treatment on the tax and rate-payers dollar. Saskatchewanians do have to pay a premium for their health care, you know. Alberta doesn’t, coz we are oil barons. Ontario doesn’t have a premium, because provincial sales tax is earmarked for medical care (it pays for OHIP. – and I am a child of the time before cradle-to-grave OHIP numbers, they even tried to charge me for seeing a doctor I had never heard of once. I told them so, and never heard more about it.)

  • kjh64

    Under international rules on asylum, an asylum seeker is supposed to seek asylum in the first “safe” country. (Thus, the only asylum seekers coming to Canada should be from the USA.) This man obviously passed many safe countries and crossed the ocean to come to Canada. He should have been made to stay in the first safe country. It’s likely he wasn’t seeking asylum so much as looking for a Western nation that was the easiest to get into and Canada fit the bill.

    • kjh64

      I’ll add by the first “safe” country, it means the safe country closest to the asylum seeker’s nation, one that he would reach first since it’s the closest. That’s not Canada.

      • GM (Australia)

        Strange that we only see these rules mentioned on web-sites such as this. As I have mentioned previously, African refugees should be given refuge in Africa, Islamic refugees given asylum in the Arab world and so on.

    • NYB

      They should do a forensic audit of all his emails and communications traffic prior to his boarding the plane for Canada.

      Without a doubt, the financial and document trail would reveal that he is not a refugee, but a shady, criminally-minded economic opportunist who specifically targetted a white country.

  • GM (Australia)

    I looked carefully at the original article but could see no mention of the asylum seeker’s name or nationality. Let us assume then that he is a Coptic Christian fleeing from persecution in Egypt and perhaps he is now living with that extensive community which is now in Canada. Two things should be done; 1, President Obama & Hillary should be slamming the persecution of Christians in Egypt. 2, The local Coptic community and refugee advocates in general, should be supporting this refugee, put their money where their mouth is and pay for his treatment.

    Then, while the decision not to give this man free treatment may be considered harsh by some it is must be noted that it will take resources away from a legitimate Canadian citizen who may be waiting for medical treatment. Of course if the treatment is given free by the Canadian Government it will be seen as rolling out the red carpet for more and more medical refugees.

  • JackKrak

    How about a study on the “alarming rise” of incidents that CAUSE Islamophobia?

  • curri

    They don’t identify the claimant’s home country, but there’s a very good chance that Israel was the closest non-Islamic country of refuge for this Arab (?) Christian. Does Israel comply with this all (any?) of those international agreements on refugees.

  • Michael_C_Scott

    The real outrage here is that someone would travel halfway around the world and then imagine they were entitled to demand the taxpayers in their host nation pay for health care for a pre-existing medical condition.

    • FourFooted_Messiah

      Exactly. I see no reason why we should pay for everyone with a problem. The world is starting to see Canada as a dumping ground for its unwanted, undesirable populations. This needs to stop, and NOW.

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    The rationale is, “we cannot afford to be the world’s nanny!” Good lords. there are Canadians who can’t afford certain drugs and procedures that are not covered by provincial health care – why should immigrants get more than we do?!

    Let that person go back home and see if he can get care. That person is HIS or HER government’s responsibility, NOT OURS!

    And, to Mr Kenney – refugees are NOT persomanet residesnts. They should be expected to GO HOME eventually, when whatever is going on in their country of origin has died down. Has any “refugee” EVER gone home:?

  • IstvanIN
  • FourFooted_Messiah

    And oh, the money spent on this a-hole’s chemno would be better spent by the province of Saskatchewan on improving its crappy roads!