For more than 10 years J has waited to know his fate in Canada. His “case”, and its twisted turns have dumfound even us. J can’t pay up front. It may spell the end of his bid for safety. We have J’s permission to share his story with you.
This is a case that eloquently underscores the inhumanity and cruelness, the inconsistencies and failures, the incredulities of immigration policies in Canada.
We first met J and his wife about 4 months ago. They came to the CVC for his medical care. He came for treatment of untreated high blood pressure.
J fled Liberia. Charles Taylor’s brutality and murder of family and friends took its toll. Taylor is a man now disgraced before the World Court in the Hague, convicted of war crimes and brutality typical of Nazi thugs. In Canada, J filed a refugee claim for safety. He was denied. The Immigration and Refugee Board deemed he was not in danger in Liberia. Really?
Somehow J was given a work permit to work in Canada once his application avenue changed, while he appealed his claim after the denial at IRB.
J landed a job as a security guard in Toronto, 6 years ago. J still holds that job. J still pays his Federal and Provincial and Municipal taxes, and his EI every year, in full, and on time.
And yet, during all these years of employment and paying taxes, J was denied OHIP, denied refugee status, denied IFH, denied healthcare when he needed it most.
J came to the Volunteer clinic one evening feeling unwell a few months ago. The volunteer physician on duty diagnosed severe and malignant hypertension. This a condition where the blood pressure has gone so high a stroke or brain hemorrhage is imminent.
J was referred to the area ER that evening. As uninsured as he was, his life was now on the line. J was admitted. He was treated. His life was saved. After 4 days he was discharged. He was handed a bill for $10,000.
J and his wife do not have the funds to cover this in one payment. They told the hospital they want to pay their bill, but can only do so over time, with a payment schadule.
Denied, Turned down. Pay in full or we refer to a collections agency.
They came to the CVC in despair a few weeks after the hospital stay, with the bill. The mere suggestion of “collections” had them both frightened, in tears. A collection’s claim would severely threaten J’s journey to becoming a permanent resident in Canada. It raised the fear of failure and deportation at the very moment they were making progress in Canada, after years of paying in to the system.
In a cruel twist of fate, J was notified that he would receive OHIP shortly after his hospital stay. His number arrived a month after his hospital stay, and 6 years after he began working and paying taxes in Ontario. It would not be retroactive. The bill remained.
The CVC wrote the Hospital, offering to help manage the matter, and discuss and contribute to a payment plan. We received no reply. This is devastating to J and his wife. It posed enormous risk, and possible failed claims to stay in Canada
J watched friends and family murdered in Liberia, and decided to make the escape for his life. He paid into OHIP for years, but was denied access to it when he needed it most. He now faces a failed bid to stay in Canada, because he became ill.
We all think J should have received care without cost. If not, his taxes should be returned, for all the good it did him to pay them. He could use the refund to pay his hospital bill?