Team of Calgary doctors stepping up to make sure refugee claimants have healthy start in new country

Everyday Hero: Giving refugees a healthy start in Canada

ReidBy  Global National Alberta Correspondent  Global News

WATCH: A team of Calgary doctors is stepping up to make sure refugee claimants have a healthy start in a new country. Reid Fiest has the story.

Going for a yearly check-up at the doctor’s office is something many Canadians take for granted. But for refugees, it may be one of the first times receiving quality medical care since fleeing in their home countries.

Dr. Annalee Coakley and 11 other doctors deliver it at the Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic in Calgary, saying the need is great.

“They often come to Canada with complex medical problems,” Coakley told Global News.

With the help of translators, social workers and other staff, they are the first point of healthcare contact for hundreds of patients who are new to this country.

Many come from refugee camps, where the number of patients needing care is great.

Interactive maps: Here’s what 3.9 million Syrian refugees looks like

Coakley worked at the Kakuma camp in Kenya earlier this year, where about 40 refugees there end up coming to Calgary each year.

Canadian doctors call changes to refugee health care “cruel and unusual treatment”

Canadian Doctors Speak Out for Refugee Health Care

NEWS by Brandon Johnston — Published March 17, 2015 | Comment

  • Speakers left to right: Juan Carlos Chirgwin, Samir Shaheen-Hussain, Philip Berger and Janet Cleveland. Photo Brandon Johnston

Members of Canada’s medical community gathered at McGill on Saturday to discuss the federal government’s 2012 amendments to the Interim Federal Health Programme (IFHP), which changed the way refugee seekers qualify for health care within Canada.

The changes made it so that those in the process of seeking refugee status would receive no medication coverage or any supplemental services.

Additionally, those seeking status from countries considered by Canada to be ‘safe,’ such as Europe and Mexico, would receive very limited services. Only if their health posed a threat to public safety would they receive free treatment.

For example, a refugee from Mexico with an infectious disease that could potentially harm members of the public, would qualify for free health services. However, for other medical instances, such as a broken leg, they would be left unprotected.

The cuts were claimed, by the Conservative government, as a means discouraging ‘bogus’ refugee claims and on economic grounds.

Panelists at Saturday’s discussion disagreed.

“The federal government has lied continually for three years about [the amendments],” said Philip Berger, a University of Toronto medical professor and health rights activist. “Costs were absorbed by provincial governments and local hospitals,” Berger continued.

“Rather than treating people on the basis of their medical need, we are asked to treat them based on their legal status and where they were born,” Berger said.

The amendments were brought before a federal court which ruled against the changes, claiming they constituted “cruel and unusual treatment” and were in violation of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights. The decision has since been appealed by the federal government, and a temporary health program now exists.

Janet Cleveland, a psychologist and lawyer, cited an example of a women from Honduras who lost her child due to the amendments. The women was in the process of immigrating to Canada while being sponsored by her husband. Because she had no coverage, she was forced to neglect costly prenatal care. After having a miscarriage, she was stuck with a bill of $40,000 for the 10 day hospital stay she required afterwards.

“Absolutely preventable and absolutely avoidable, and that kind of thing goes on, unfortunately, not uncommonly,” Cleveland said of the case.

TORONTO: Former refugees worried they could be deported after extended visits to their homelands

  • Share on Facebook
  • Reddit this!
More than 10 years after he was granted refugee status and became a permanent resident, Toronto's Milan Kumar Karki was told in January that he has returned for extended stays in Nepal numerous times and "no longer required Canada's surrogate protection." He may now lose his permanent residency and be deported.


More than 10 years after he was granted refugee status and became a permanent resident, Toronto’s Milan Kumar Karki was told in January that he has returned for extended stays in Nepal numerous times and “no longer required Canada’s surrogate protection.” He may now lose his permanent residency and be deported.

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Mon Feb 23 2015

Ottawa has slowly — and quietly — stepped up efforts to strip permanent resident status from former refugees who were granted asylum in Canada and later returned to the country where they once faced persecution.

Wielding new powers that came in with changes to immigration law in 2012, the federal government is now actively pursuing reopening asylum files under what’s known as a “cessation application” and forcing refugees whose circumstances have changed to leave Canada.

The number of people who had their protection “ceased” in 2014 was almost five times the number in 2012 — rising from 24 to 116 — according to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which is mandated to decide if the individuals are still refugees or not.

Roma family denied stay in Montreal

Canada Wants Refugees to Go West

Canada Wants Refugees to Go West

Government Aims to Use Immigration Policy to Support Economic Growth


Canada is weighing steps to settle refugees in parts of the country with low unemployment levels, signaling the government’s effort to use immigration policy to support economic growth—without alienating voters.

Canada has one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations, and just over half of immigrants and nearly half of refugees to Canada settle in Ontario, the country’s largest province, which has a higher unemployment rate than faster-growing Alberta, which attracts a much smaller share of newcomers.

Refugees from Iraq living in Calgary since 2005 still on government help

New life for Iraq refugees in Calgary still a challenge as Christmas nears 



More than anything, she’s thankful for the opportunity to raise her family in the safety of Canada.

Arriving in Calgary in 2005 as a refugee from Iraq, the mother of two is grateful for everything her new home has given her — a warm, safe home through Calgary Housing as well as social assistance, which she says just barely covers their basic expenses.

“I get help from the government,” she said.

“But it’s never enough.”

She and her husband both suffer from a variety of health problems that not only keep them from working, but also incurs the family extra expenses.

The woman suffers from a heart condition as well as high blood pressure, while her husband is diabetic and has limited eyesight due to ongoing surgery to correct the eye condition.

The couple requires a special diet to help manage their conditions, which often stretches their already tight budget past the breaking point.

As well, her four-year-old son is asthmatic and has a learning disability, requiring him to attend speech therapy sessions five days a week.

What this family wants most of all for Christmas are items that many of us don’t give second thoughts to.

A bed and mattress for her five-year-old daughter, who currently doesn’t have a bed of her own.

A couch to replace their current one, which is broken and full of holes.

Bath mats.

Shower curtains.

An electric razor so her husband can cut both he and his son’s hair.