Sask. will pick up tab for refugee's chemotherapy treatment
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 5:35PM CST
Last Updated Friday, November 23, 2012 9:28AM CST
Premier Wall called Ottawa’s decision to deny chemotherapy to a refugee in Saskatoon "un-Canadian.” Now, the Province of Saskatchewan is stepping up to the plate.
The province will pick up the tab for chemotherapy for a man seeking asylum in Saskatoon. The man says he fled Pakistan when he was persecuted for his Christian faith.
Shortly after arriving however, he was diagnosed with cancer, and the federal government refused to pay for treatment.
Ottawa quietly introduced changes in the spring to the Federal Health Program, which cut drug, dental and vision care for refugee claimants. These cuts were highlighted in a recent mail out by Saskatoon area MP Kelly Block. The mail outs triggered protests, saying the language was inappropriate and offensive.
The federal government says it brought in the changes to deter bogus refugee claims and ensure failed asylum seekers don't take advantage of Canada’s free health care.
The Saskatoon refugee battling cancer came up Thursday during question period in Ottawa.
Jason Kenney, Immigration Minister, said in question period Thursday that "pending asylum claimants are not refugees until they are determined to be so by our fair and just legal system, during which time they receive comprehensive health insurance but not extended benefits"))
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan says Ottawa's changes to healthcare rules involving refugees lack clarity, and the provinces are growing frustrated.
He says Saskatchewan will continue to pay for the Pakistani man's chemotherapy.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is seen in this undated file photo.