On July 1st, immigrant and refugee allies interrupted Canada Day events at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, holding up massive foam letters that spelled out “Oh Canada, No Home for Refugees”, visible from balconies and rooftops in the surrounding area. This action was organized on the day that the federal Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) cuts went into effect, gutting a range of services delivering health care for refugees.
"Canada has a long history of extremely regressive immigration policies, such as the Chinese Head Tax. Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program that provides health care for refugees, implementation of Bill C-11 and the recent passing of Bill C-31, otherwise known as the Refugee Exclusion Act, are all intensified efforts by this government to exclude and exploit immigrants and refugees while also denying them access to basic services", said Dr. Abeer Majeed.
"The Tories have courted immigrant votes in the past and continue to assert that they are pro-immigrants and refugees so we are here today to expose this government’s racist immigration agenda and this action is one of many as the struggle for migrant justice intensifies across the country".
A Canada-wide network of doctors and health practitioners, service providers, refugee advocates, human rights organizations, community groups and migrant and refugee communities have come together to demand the Conservative government reverse its attacks on refugees. With the IFHP cuts, diabetics will not have access to insulin, children will no longer be able to get their asthma medication, and many refugees will lose absolutely essential health services.
With Bill C-11 and Bill C-31 coming in to force, many migrants will face mandatory jail sentence, be discriminated against on the basis of nationality, and will be denied basic services. Roma refugees fleeing neo-Nazi violence in Hungary and queer refugees without substantive protections leaving Mexico, among others, will have to choose between debt and a death sentence.
The precarious status imposed on refugees through these cuts is part of a larger raft of attacks – and struggles against them – launched by the Harper Conservatives. Parents and grandparents of immigrants, spouses from particular parts of the world, immigrants applying as federally skilled workers join temporary migrant workers as the growing pool of immigrants that are unable to access full status in Canada. These assaults are only an intensification of racist legislation directed against migrants and refugees already resisting the conditions of a thoroughly unjust immigration system. A wave of occupations, mass demonstrations, direct actions, and coalition-building has followed Harper’s attacks, as migrants, refugees, and their allies have organized to fight back. This fight is far from over, and will continue until justice for immigrants and freedom for refugees has been achieved.
Together, we can change this. We can continue to support refugees, even as they are denied justice and dignity by these vicious laws. We can support refugees when they are called “bogus” or “illegal”. We can continue to provide essential medical and community services to migrants even as the Canadian state criminalizes them. We must continue to create ways that people can live with justice and dignity.
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