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National day of action against cuts to refugee health care

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On June 18, Canadians across the country will be participating in a rally for health care for refugees.

The Harper Government will implement severe cuts to health care for refugees come July 1. The irony of these changes being implemented on Canada Day is not lost on many. It's a pretty disgusting policy that will hurt people when they are perhaps at their most vulnerable.

Refugees come to Canada to find a safe haven often from unspeakable tragedy. Until July 1, refugees to Canada have been eligible for primary health-care services, pharmaceuticals, dentistry and mental health care. For many refugees these medical services are a lifeline. Now those services will be cut back in the name of "fairness."

Refugees to Canada will be denied vaccinations (children and adults) -- unless they're a risk for public health concerns, primary health care -- except in the case of emergencies for some refugees, pharmaceuticals like medication for diabetes, pre-natal care for some refugees, and in some cases they could be denied help even if their life is in immediate danger (i.e., in the case of a heart attack). To see a government summary of these changes go here.

Health-care workers and civil society have been speaking out against these cuts. Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health Care has created a simple yet effective video here. Canadian Doctors for Medicare and others occupied MP Joe Oliver's office in Toronto until the office was instructed to call the police and not the MP and the doctors were told to leave the office not being able to meet Oliver. You can see the video of this incident here.

The Council of Canadians has been following these cut backs. Brent Patterson, political director, wrote about the cut backs here.

The Council of Canadians congratulates everyone who has been participating in the incredible actions leading up to the June 18 mass rally, the organizers of these actions, and the health-care practitioners who have been speaking out against them. We repeat our call to everyone to contact MP Jason Kenney and demand that the Harper government withdraw these egregious changes. Denying refugees to Canada medical care is just not the Canada we know.

To participate in rallies across the country, see the list of times, locations, and contact information below. If you're with a Council of Canadians chapter -- please don't forget to let your regional organizer know of your participation and send them some photos! We'd love to see the Council banner waving proudly to support health care for refugees.

Rally information:

Toronto - 1 p.m. -- demonstration in front of the Toronto regional office of Citizenship and Immigration Canada at 25 St. Clair Avenue East. For more information please contact Meb Rashid at: [email protected].

Hamilton -- 1 p.m. -- demonstration outside the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office building at 55 Bay Street North. For more information please contact: Christian Kraeker at [email protected], Tim O'Shea at [email protected] or Andrea Hunter at [email protected].

Ottawa -- Noon -- Parliament Hill. For more information please contact: [email protected].

Kitchener -- 5:00 p.m. -- Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. For more information please contact: Miriam Papps at [email protected].

Windsor -- Noon -- Citizenship and Immigration office, 1250 Walker Road. For more information please contact: Ryan Herriot at [email protected].

Montreal -- 12:30 p.m. -- Citizenship and Immigration Canada office, 1010 St. Antoine O. For more information please contact: [email protected]

St. John's -- Noon -- press conference at the offices of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association. For more information please contact: Pauline Duke at [email protected].

Halifax -- Noon -- A demonstration will be held at the Grand Parade Square. For more information please contact: [email protected].

Inuvik -- 12:15 p.m. -- Meet at the Post Office at 187 McKenzie Road. For more information please contact: Sarah Reaburn at [email protected].

Winnipeg -- Noon -- The Forks Plaza (under the canopy). For more information please contact: Mike Dillon at [email protected].

Saskatoon -- Noon -- Event will start at the Bandshell at Kiwanis Memorial Park and proceed across the University bridge, finishing in front of the Royal University Hospital's Old Main Entrance. For more information please contact: Malhi Brindamour at [email protected].

Calgary -- Noon -- Harry Hays Building at 220 4th Ave SE (corner of 1st Street). For more information please contact: Sandra Allaire at [email protected] Annalee Coakley at [email protected].

Edmonton -- Noon -- Canada Place, 9700 Jasper Ave. For more information please contact: Dallas Dyson at [email protected].

Vancouver -- Noon -- Citizenship and Immigration Canada office, 1148 Hornby Street. For more information please contact: Martina Scholtens at [email protected].

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