Every person living in Canada – with the exception of Indigenous persons – is here as a result of immigration. Recent immigrants have come to Canada for a variety of reasons, including escape from persecution or war, economic opportunities, seeking safety and freedom, and relief from starvation or other disasters.
Canada has had many immigration policies over the years that excluded and restricted immigration to visible minorities especially on the basis of race, ethnic origin, and religion.
Since 2012, new laws and policies have drastically altered the landscape of Canada’s refugee and immigration policies, restricting and undermining refugee protections, certain kinds of immigration, and increasing the vulnerability of many immigrants and temporary migrant workers.
These changes also discriminated against categories of refugees, and penalized them for their arrival – a violation of basic human rights. The government cut health benefits to refugee claimants and asylum seekers; these cuts affecting the most vulnerable, the elderly, sick people, pregnant women and children. It deprives them of access to healthcare, funding for life-saving medications such as insulin and cardiac drugs, basic maternity care, etc.
With the support of our donors, we are able to continuously fight for the rights and freedoms of immigrants and refugees coming to Canada; people like Nell Tousaint.
Nell, who had lived and worked in Canada as an irregular migrant for almost a decade, was in the process of seeking to regularize her status when she developed life-threatening health problems.
She sought access to healthcare but was denied because of her immigration status. The Federal Court agreed that her life and long-term health had been put at risk, but they held that the violation of the right to life was justified to promote compliance with immigration law, ignoring the evidence filed in the case showing that most irregular migrants, like Nell, migrate for work and not to access health care.
We worked closely with Nell to fight for her rights as a human being. We believe that a person living in Canada, regardless of their immigration status, and in need of life-saving healthcare is entitled to it. A refusal to provide it would violate this person’s right to equality under the Charter. Cases like Nell’s continue to be a big problem in Canada today and affect the most vulnerable in our society.
Open letter – CBSA oversight and Toure – November 26, 2020
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