Canadian Bill C-31
Prepared by: Simon Gebreselassie (Plight of Eritrean Refugee)
Ever since the conservative party won the majority in the last election, we have seen a number of pieces of legislation introduced and voted upon. Unfortunately some of this legislation passed with inadequate public consultation, or appropriate agencies were not consulted. In other cases, they were not given enough time to study the proposed legislation, and problems have resulted.
Let me give you some background to Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee act that the government introduced on Feb. 16, 2012.
This Bill will bring in a lot of legislation changes which affect immigrants and refugees who are seeking to come to Canada and also refugees who are here waiting for their claims to be heard or approved. It also changes the way family sponsorships are handled plus the ministerial powers have been altered as well. The minister will have a sole power to determine who are refugees – based on their country of origin – and the power to designate which country is deemed a safe country. While the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration claims that the announced changes will only deny services that are not included in basic care for Canadian, in fact they cut much deeper. One of the many changes that is being introduced is the Interim Health Program coverage for refugee claimants, protected persons and others, effect on June 30, 2012. From then on, and depending on their status, under rules for temporary federal health coverage a person will be eligible for basic and essential care only, treatment for conditions which pose a risk to public health and public safety, or no coverage at all.