Video: Dr. Chris Keefer interrupts Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney have decided to eliminate potentially life-saving treatments for refugees and refugee claimants.
Cuts to the interim federal health program take effect on June 30. This means, among other things, that people with Type 1 diabetes will no longer be eligible for subsidized insulin and pregnant women who can't afford prenatal care may have to do without.
The issue came to a head during Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's news conference at Toronto General Hospital on June 22.
Dr. Chris Keefer interrupts a Conservative cabinet minister.
Dr. Chris Keefer interrupted Oliver to declare that the Conservative government is cutting treatments to people fleeing from war-torn countries.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" Keefer demanded.
"The answer to the question is that our government believes, as most Canadians believe, that all Canadians should be given the same health care and we do not believe that people who just arrived, recent refugees, should be given superior health care to that of Canadian residents and Canadian citizens," Oliver said. "We are equalizing the health care so that everyone in this country is treated equally."
Keefer then accused him of cutting off care to pregnant women and diabetics. "I don't believe this minister deserves my courtesy or the courtesy of any doctor in this country," he scoffed.
Oliver then accused Keefer of providing false information. A clearly disgruntled hospital official apologized to the minister.
Physicians plan to continue interrupting Conservative cabinet ministers' news conferences until the decision is reversed.
Under the interim federal health program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada pays for health costs of refugees and refugee claimants, as well as for people detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, victims of trafficking, and in-Canada dependents if they're unable to pay for health care and don't qualify for provincial health plans.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.