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Amnesty International supports call for federal government to address landmark UN decision on health care access for migrants

    December 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is joining more than 1,500 members of the health care community in calling on the federal government to address a landmark United Nations decision condemning Canada for denying health care access to Ms. Nell Toussaint on the basis of her immigration status.

    This remarkable group of medical professionals – including doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, psychologists, allied health specialists, public health workers, researchers, educators and students – have signed an open letter urging Canada to review existing laws and policies regarding health care coverage for irregular migrants, and to provide Ms. Toussaint with adequate compensation for the violation of her human rights.

    Amnesty International, one of more than 80 organizations that have signed the letter, welcomes this initiative and urges the government to act without delay to ensure that people with irregular immigration status have access to essential health care services.

    Background:

    Ms. Toussaint, a 49-year-old from Grenada, entered Canada as a visitor in 1999. She began the process to regularize her immigration status in 2005, but the process was delayed and in 2008 she developed serious health conditions requiring medical treatment. She had some access to emergency health care but was denied access to other essential health care available through Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) due to her irregular immigration status. 

    After unsuccessfully challenging her inability to access the IFHP in Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, and after leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied in 2012, Ms. Toussaint took her case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). Amnesty International submitted a legal opinion in support of her petition.

    The UNHRC adopted the decision in August 2018 and requested a response from Canada within 180 days.

    For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English), 613-744-7667, ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca