Improving Access to Healthcare for the Undocumented and Uninsured sign now

We, the undersigned health providers, academics, policymakers and community members, have today reviewed the most current evidence on the healthcare needs of the undocumented and uninsured in Ontario.

Access to healthcare is a key aspect of ensuring the right to health, as enshrined in international law and in the Canada Health Act. We feel that all people residing in Ontario should be able to access health care in a timely fashion, without facing significant barriers.

We believe that the following recommendations are not only necessary, but also feasible, cost-effective, and resonate with the values of Ontarians. Your Government began its mandate in 2003 stating "We are all made stronger by our system of universal, public medicare." The following steps are consistent with that vision:

Eliminate the 3-month waiting period for OHIP for new immigrants
New immigrants who fall ill during this waiting period delay seeking care, resulting in worse health outcomes or fatal consequences. Or they pay out-of-pocket, beginning their new life in Ontario in financial destitution. Currently, this policy is only present in four provinces, and Quebec has recently amended its position. Ontario can become a leader in welcoming new immigrants to Canada with access to healthcare assured, recognizing the valuable contribution they make to our society.

Increase support to Community Health Centres
CHCs are often the major source of healthcare for the uninsured and undocumented. Yet, they are significantly under-funded and are unable to meet the demand for their comprehensive services. Facilitating collaboration between CHCs and hospitals would lead to improved health outcomes for the most vulnerable in our province. Supporting CHCs means addressing the health needs of the most marginalized, as well as strengthening primary care in Ontario.

Implement and enforce a "Don't ask, Dont tell" policy
Thousands of Ontarians fear going to hospitals or clinics due to concerns about arrest, detention and deportation. This is unacceptable. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care should implement and enforce a "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy with respect to citizenship status. Publicly administered health care settings should provide services regardless of immigration status. Providers should not be permitted to disclose the immigration status of patients. Implementation could include the education of front-line clinical and administrative staff and advertisement of the policy in emergency departments and clinics.

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Carolyn LaraBy:
WorkIn:
Petition target:
Hon. Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care cc: Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario

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