Mr Kenney, your spokesperson is wrong. Allow the CVC to “substantiate”

updated October 1st 2012

Mr Kenney, through a spokesperson made the following claims. The following is extracted from The Toronto Star Friday, September 28th, 2012

“…A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the doctors’ report inaccurate.

“Unfortunately, a small number of activist physicians continue to make unsubstantiated claims and use examples of individuals without disclosing their names so that the facts of these cases cannot be verified or disproved,” said Alexis Pavlich.

“The majority of the alleged cases are either factually incorrect or the real status of these individuals has been purposely altered.

Pavlich said all refugee claimants in Canada get the same access to health care as Canadian taxpayers receive through their provincial health care.

“Bona fide refugees continue to receive comprehensive health coverage, while illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers from safe, democratic countries no longer receive health insurance that is superior to what is generally available to taxpaying Canadians,” Pavlich said.”

Allow me to disclose the name of Mr Byron Alvarez. Allow me to “substantiate”. Before he died, Mr Alvarez provided me permission to tell his story. I was his attending physician. He attended our volunteer clinic, trying to obtain care at age 40 that would either prolong, or save his life. The following is also excerpted from the Toronto Star, from an editorial, authored by me in June, 2012. My name, by the way, is Paul Caulford. I practice family medicine in Scarborough, Ontario, where I have worked for 35 years. In the article in the Toronto Star your spokesperson is quoted as describing myself and my colleagues in rather disparaging language, suggesting without using the word – we are misleading and deceiving the public. 

Mr Kenney, in what can only be described as thinly veiled mean-spiritedness, you rather smugly proclaimed “I don’t like being taken for a sucker,” when describing the rationale for your new legislation. 

That is where Byron’s story comes in (this is a diary from before the IFH cuts). Being 38 years old and being shot at in Guatemala ..( for political views), seeing family and friends beside you gunned down, then fleeing for your life to Canada, doesn’t get you refugee status. Working here for five years, paying taxes and volunteering with youth in your community, while trying to appeal your refugee denial, also gets you nothing — no status, no health care. Then getting cancer, well, just go away and die young man. So, that’s what he did. Turned down for lifesaving cancer treatment time and time again, Byron died, emaciated, on his apartment floor, never having taken a red cent from this country, but having given everything. What Guatemalan political thugs couldn’t accomplish, Canada did.

Byron must have been that refugee claimant “taking you for a sucker,” right Mr. Kenney? Don’t worry, he won’t do it again.


Your spokesperson is simply wrong. Refugee claimants we now treat do not get the same healthcare as Canadians. They get much less. They are here legally. They are not bogus, nor are they criminals, nor are they taking anyone for a sucker.
Your Orders in Council are hurting children, their mothers, and many more. We keep Mr Alvarez’s medical file on our desk. It reminds us. You and your spokesperson are welcome to visit our clinic anytime, to review the file. The facts are there, and, they will speak for themselves. And, we doubt that Byron will object.
Paul Caulford.


What would you do?

Sept 27th 2012, clinic

Imagine you live in a country where female genital mutilation ( FGM) is often culturally demanded, the “norm”. Your daughter is 13 years old. You disagree vehemently with her being “circumcised”. You learn that relatives are planning to take her from you and have this ritual primitive abuse performed  on her. It happened recently to another young girl in your community. She bled to death in excruciating pain.

You and your husband “borrow” enough money to get you and your daughter plane tickets to Canada. But you are pregnant and at full term, due for delivery in just 3 weeks. So you take a chance, conceal the pregnancy under bulky clothes, and you board the plane. You leave your husband, and 10 year old daughter behind. You take your 13 year old to safety, away from this most horrific and deadly abuse.

Once here you meet with Canadian Immigration officials. You explain, you ask for help. No Interim Federal Health is provided. You leave empty handed while your refugee claim is in limbo. You are due in 7 days. You have little money, and are in a shelter.

This is the new way CIC now operates. It has its “new policies” we were told when we asked.

If this was your 13 year old daughter, what would you do? Would you let her be kidnapped? Would you allow her to be painfully mutilated at age 13 so she could prove she is a virgin at marriage? Would you allow this, so she could never enjoy intimacy at any time in her life, and tear open during the delivery of her future children?

Her mother had no intention of ever fleeing, let alone when she herself is pregnant and about to deliver! But she never expected her daughter would be in this danger.

Just exactly what should we do?





Saving money one “bogus” child refugee claimant at a time

September 18, 2012

Thomas is 12 months old. His mother brought him to clinic tonight from a shelter. She  fled there from spousal abuse. Until July 1st 2012 Thomas had IFH, awaiting a refugee hearing. Thomas had no say in his immigration or refugee claim his young mother initiated. He has not been eating well for a month, has a fever, and is not thriving. His mother could not afford to take him to the doctor because his IFH coverage had been cut. Thomas had infections in both ears, his tonsils are infected, and he was in discomfort.

Gabriel, from Africa, is 8, in grade 3 and has asthma. His IFH cuts mean his mother cannot afford a doctor or his asthma medications. He is coughing and wheezing more. Without treatment and care he is heading into more breathing difficulty.

Ahmed is 2. He was born with congenital defects and needs regular medical care. He is a bright and lively little fellow who has severe visual and hearing impairments. He has trouble walking, but he carries on. His parents are Canadian citizens. Ahmed was born when they were out of the country. Now that they are back, he has not received any healthcare access after 5 months. His parents are told he will not have any for some time. He cannot get the healthcare access he needs. He has a cough, and is choking and vomiting on the phlegm from his chest.

Tonight these are just 3 of 12 children under 10 years of age who are not “bogus” refugee claimants, who are in Canada legally, following process, but now denied healthcare access.

Their parents came to the clinic seeking care for their ill children, care they can now not afford. Ignoring the health needs of our most vulnerable is becoming a very dangerous situation.




Political thugs

Sept 13, 2012

Each day we all make choices. What to have for breakfast, what clothes to wear.

For some at our clinic, the choices have recently become a little more serious, a little more devastating. For some, their choice comes down to the future of their unborn child. It comes down to the destruction of their family, their dreams, their souls.

It is not something she wants to face. There are complications that would require more in depth assessment and care. But, the withdrawal of IFH coverage from this pregnant mother ( she is not our only example), means carrying her unborn of 9 weeks to term and a safe delivery will cost money she does not have. This has her contemplating the termination of her pregnancy. She told us that the uncertainty of her refugee hearing outcome is too big a risk to take. How would she feed her children, if she is denied?

She has but a few weeks to decide. Her tears, her look away, tell us she has reluctantly made her decision.

New to Canada, from a country far across the ocean, our patient gathered her children and fled for their safety. She fled from a place where a brutal and crushing regime of political thugs disemboweled her friend, in the street, in a political protest, and left her to die. She fled to Canada because she “knew” ours was a better place, a place where her children would be safe.

What would you do? If you were this mother, just what exactly would you do to protect your children, your family? There was no time to wait the years necessary for a UN sanction as a convention refugee.

In Canada, she applied for refugee status. She received IFH back then, IFH that offered pregnancy care until her claim was heard. Her claim, now 18 months later, still awaits, still unheard. So, caught in Government delays and the confusing web of their new IFH rules, she has been “reclassified”. Her IFH no longer covers pregnancy care. It will again if her refugee claim is successful. Every cent her husband now earns goes to their rent, and food for their 2 children. She can’t take that chance, she can’t make that choice.

When you leave a brutal country laden with political thugs, with 2 children, and just the shirts on your backs, then take low paying work in Canada – there’s nothing left for “discretionary” spending, or for those “luxury” items.

Something had to go. Damn those political thugs.