Last month Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili issued a statement calling on the provincial government to honour its obligations to those seeking refuge in Canada. Meili’s statement read in part:
"I’m calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to take three simple steps that would proactively address Harper’s refugee health care crisis. First, to join with concerned Canadians in calling on the federal government to fulfill their responsibilities to refugees; second, to follow the lead of other provinces and extend full coverage for refugees and refugee claimants until the federal government resumes that coverage; and third, to live up to provincial legislation by ensuring that all residents, not just those with work permits, begin receiving health care after three months in the province.” (Emphasis added.)
In comments yesterday and this morning, Premier Wall acted on the first of Meili’s recommendations, speaking out against the federal government's decision to introduce refugee health cuts, and committing to raise the issue with the Prime Minister.
Wall also acted on Meili’s second recommendation in regards to one particular patient in need of medical support during chemotherapy treatment, leaving the door open, in comments this morning, to extending treatment in other cases. “We’re just going to make sure these things are covered, and deal with who pays later,” Wall said.
“This is an encouraging development,” Meili said. “I’d like the province to confirm whether coverage will indeed be extended to all refugees and refugee claimants, or whether the health minister is making this call on a case-by-case basis.”
“There is also the important matter of ensuring that all Saskatchewan residents begin receiving health care after three months in the province – not just those with work permits,” Meili added. “This is simply a matter of following our own legislation.”
“These are issues that cross political lines,” Meili said. “Sometimes the right thing to do is simply the right thing to do. But we can’t just respond on a case-by-case basis. We can and must push to make our commitment to universal healthcare the rule, rather than the exception.”