Ford government encouraged to permanently fund health care for migrants
Doctors, health care professionals and advocates are asking Ontario Premier Doug Ford to make temporary health care access for the uninsured in the province permanent.
In March 2020, at the onset of COVID-19 in Canada, the Ontario government issued a directive that gave temporary access to public health care to people previously shut out of the system or forced to wait several months for coverage (OHIP Bulletin 4749).
“As a front-line provider, I have seen many patients access urgent health-care services, life-saving treatments at times, that they would otherwise either have been denied or felt afraid seeking.”DR. RITIKA GOEL, A TORONTO FAMILY PHYSICIAN, IN THE TORONTO STAR, JULY 28, 2022
One thousand doctors and health care professionals and more than 200 organizations, including the Canadian Health Coalition, have signed an open letter by Access to Healthcare for All that argues:
Research on emergency room visits by uninsured children and adults living in Ontario has shown that those without insurance were less likely to be admitted, more likely to leave without treatment, and more likely to have died on arrival or in the emergency department. When compared to insured individuals, the presenting health conditions of uninsured patients were 43% more likely to be classified as severe, indicating that uninsured individuals likely delay accessing care due to the deterrent effect of prohibitive hospital fees (2). Such impacts are borne out in our experiences: We have seen children present with complications of delayed care, clients be denied care, and people die due to lack of access to healthcare.
Removal of the three-month waiting period and access to hospital and physician care for uninsured people has significantly benefited the people of Ontario, as well as its health care providers, hospitals, and the healthcare system at large. Individual hospitals and the Ontario Hospital Association strongly support the program, witnessing its benefits firsthand. Turning patients away or denying standard of care increases moral distress in healthcare providers already on the brink of burnout (3). The downstream system-level costs of delayed or deterred access to care for uninsured people are also likely significant. Removing systemic barriers in provincial health insurance coverage for medically uninsured persons is in line with the principles of access, equity, and universality that frame the Canada Health Act and the Ontario Health Insurance Act.
Dr. Ritika Goel, a Toronto family physician, told the Toronto Star on July 28, 2022: “As a front-line provider, I have seen many patients access urgent health-care services, life-saving treatments at times, that they would otherwise either have been denied or felt afraid seeking.”
Today, Wednesday, August 3 at 12 noon, the Access to Healthcare for All Coalition and supporters are rallying at Queen’s Park in Toronto. There, the Coalition will deliver the open letter to the Ford government. Migrants with lived experience of being able to access health care in the past year and health care providers will address rally participants. Organizers are asking people to bring umbrellas. Umbrellas are a symbol of accessible health care. Just like an umbrella on a rainy day, our public health care is supposed to be there to take care of all of us when we need it.
Access to Healthcare for All are asking the public to:
- Follow @Health4AllNow on Twitter and Instagram
- Tweet & pin the 3-tweet series to your profile, using the Twitter poster to spread the word about tomorrow’s action.
- Circulate the stories posted on @HealthForAllNow Instagram and Twitter, and tell your stories as well!
- Change your Twitter and Facebook banners, and post the Instagram graphics
- Tweet the action with #healthcare4all #statusforall throughout the day
Health care in Canada is supposed to be a fundamental right without discrimination, including immigration status.
Tracy Glynn is the National Director of Projects and Operations for the Canadian Health Coalition