OTTAWA, February 19, 2016 – The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) celebrates the federal government’s decision to reverse cuts made by the previous government, and fully restore all refugee health care benefits to pre-2012 levels by April 2016.
“CASW has demanded for a restoration of benefits since the moment the previous government announced these cruel and injurious claw backs,” said Morel Caissie, CASW President. “It doesn’t sit well with social workers, or the Canadian public, for that matter, when Canada turns a blind eye to people at their most vulnerable.”
Immigration Minister John McCallum and Health Minister Jane Philpott also announced that, beginning in 2017, additional coverage will be offered to refugees before their arrival in Canada. This coverage will include crucial preventative care such as the provision of vaccinations and treatment of disease outbreaks in refugee camps.
“The fact that it’s the compassionate decision is more than enough,” continued Mr. Caissie, “but this change will also help to protect all Canadians’ health and well-being.”
In addition to positive social and health outcomes, this decision will also have a positive economic impact.
“Ironically, the previous government made these cuts with the goal of saving money, when we know that taking care of people’s basic needs before they need costly acute or emergency care is the most fiscally and socially responsible policy” highlighted Mr. Caissie.
In light of the thousands of Syrians and other refugees currently seeking refuge in Canada, this announcement is also incredibly timely. “This decision comes at a critical moment – we can’t welcome refugees in good faith without supporting them upon arrival. CASW celebrates this decision that will help restore Canada’s reputation as a caring and compassionate nation” concluded Mr. Caissie.
For further information:
Fred Phelps, MSW, RSW
CASW Executive Director