About Refugees, Aboriginal Folks and Health Care


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Been following the debate on refugees coming into Canada and receiving health care?  Allow me to share a couple of knowledgeable and fact based points of view.

This debate had to do with tightening up the access to Canada’s free health care system as it relates to asylum seekers.

I spent over six years determining “refugee” cases at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).  During my time there, I became known as a very productive member wherein I determined (average) over 200 cases per year.  I probably could have determined twice that number of claims where it not for the fact that in politically- correct- Canada, the Members of the IRB were not only required determine (decide) such applications for asylum but were forced to produce bullet-proof written reasoning as could stand up the scrutiny of appeals at Canada’s Federal Court.

Not one of my colleagues at the Board was a racist or bigot.   I can also proudly state that when challenged at the Federal Courts, less than 1% of my rejected claims were tossed back for redetermination. By the way, I also had a VERY high rate of rejections.  I bounced over 85% of the cases that I heard.  In likelihood, there were another 5% who managed to have their cases approved by me simply because they squeaked by and were permitted to remain in Canada only because there was insufficient evidence or case law to bounce them. They got the benefit of the doubt.

While at the IRB, I also happened to hear and determine cases from a very wide spectrum of countries that produced asylum seekers.  I therefore do not speak in generalities.  I heard the evidence on those cases and very often took an active part in questioning asylum seekers in order to determine credibility of their individual claims. They came before me from the four corners of this planet and the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers were bogus.

The Convention on Refugees defines a refugee as a person who seeks asylum (protection) in another country because of genuine (in the case of the Act at the time: possible) fear of persecution for any number of reasons such as religion etc.  To succeed, the claimant only had to persuade the IRB that the possibility of such risk existing in his/her native country in addition to establishing that said country was either unable or unwilling to protect them.

Once these individuals arrived here in Canada, they were afforded many things that the average Canadian would roll his/her eyes over upon learning: subsidized housing, free groceries, free education (for kids as well as adults), the best of free legal advice and (of course) free health care.  While these aspiring claimants languished in a queue that often exceeded two years this group containing 90% bogus claimants fully exploited the milk of Canadian kindness. 

Many of these same claimants had stopped into various equally safe countries on their way to Canada and by-passed available asylum in such places as even the USA that did not offer free health care.  It was often comical to hear explanations as to why they did not make such claims in the USA (for example).

After leaving the IRB, many know that I spent extensive time travelling the “moccasin highway” and reconnecting to my Anishanabe roots that had been severed by way of previous generations encounters with Residential Schools.  My travels educated me about numerous aspects of my own lost culture but also exposed me to abject poverty, deprivation of food and drinking waters in numerous communities, as well as huge gaps between the way my “native” brothers and sisters received health care and education as compared to (a) main stream Canadians and (b) the queues of individuals waiting refugee determination at the IRB.

As one who has a very high level of firsthand knowledge about bogus refugees, I was delighted to hear that in recent times, the existing government has tightened up the Refugee Protection Act and choked off the lengthy stream of bogus claimants entering Canada.  Most recent among those changes was an act of parliament that creates restrictions on the provision of health care for asylum seekers.

The concept of universal (publicly funded) health care in Canada took legal roots shortly after the Second World War and originated in Saskatchewan.  By 1957, the (then) Federal Liberal government headed by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent enacted the Canada Health Act.  When a subsequent Liberal led government (Trudeau) tacked on a made in Canada Constitution, each person in Canada became “entitled” equal access to publicly funded health care service.

“Each” person included asylum seekers but DID NOT include Aboriginal families living in Canada.   The gap occurred, not by design but (instead) by lobby efforts of special interest groups. Sadly, the Aboriginal living in Canada never did have the benefit of active and noisy lobby groups such as those who champion the “refugee”.

Comment: It is most odd and troubling that when the current Federal Government made moves to reign in access to Canada’s health care system, two groups began complaining.  The newly elected Liberal government of Ontario began noisy and highly emotional complaints. These complaints, coming from Ontario where 60% of the Aboriginal people in Canada reside is quite myopic given the neglect by Ontario of health care for Aboriginal people.  Additionally, we have a few medical doctors who showed up in Ottawa and held scrums decrying this perceived unfairness to asylum seekers.  It is odd that this humanist group of doctors appears oblivious to the health care neglect inflicted of Aboriginal families; particularly those families living in remote Ontario.  Just wondering: if these doctors would show equal concern for Aboriginal health care IF these same doctors was practicing medicine in remote regions.  I suspect that the root cause behind the complaints from this urban group of Ontario doctors had much more to do with their chargeable billings to the health care system resulting from high numbers of asylum seekers living in Ontario’s major urban communities.

Just the musings of an expert on bogus asylum claims and on neglect of Aboriginal folks.

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