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Quotes from the Federal Court decision on health-care coverage for refugees


OTTAWA - Quotes arising from Friday's Federal Court decision on the Conservative government's changes to health-care coverage for refugee claimants:

"I am satisfied that the affected individuals are being subjected to 'treatment' as contemplated by section 12 of the Charter, and that this treatment is indeed 'cruel and unusual.' This is particularly, but not exclusively so as it affects children who have been brought to this country by their parents. The 2012 modifications to the Interim Federal Health Program potentially jeopardize the health, the safety and indeed the very lives, of these innocent and vulnerable children in a manner that shocks the conscience and outrages our standards of decency. They violate section 12 of the Charter."

— Justice Anne Mactavish


"Moreover, this distinction has an adverse differential effect on refugee claimants from designated countries of origin. It puts their lives at risk and perpetuates the stereotypical view that they are cheats and queue-jumpers, that their refugee claims are 'bogus,' and that they have come to Canada to abuse the generosity of Canadians. It serves to perpetuate the historical disadvantage suffered by members of an admittedly vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged group."

— Mactavish on different treatment for refugees from countries on the government's safe list and those who are not


"We remain committed to putting the interests of Canadians and genuine refugees first. Failed claimants and those from safe countries like the U.S. or Europe should not be entitled to better health care than Canadians receive. We will vigorously defend the interests of Canadian taxpayers and the integrity of our fair and generous refugee determination system."

— Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander


"Conservatives have repeatedly played politics with the lives of vulnerable people. Today, the Court has told them in no uncertain terms that they have to stop."

— New Democrat MP Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe


"Thank goodness for judges and the charter to make us a kinder country, even if the government doesn't want to go in that direction."

— Liberal MP John McCallum


"Two years ago, the federal government abdicated its responsibility to provide health care coverage for refugee claimants by making significant cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program. Ontario vigorously opposed the federal government's decision to leave many refugee claimants with little or no health care coverage. That's why our government joined with other provinces to reinstate access to essential and urgent health care services for refugee claimants through the Ontario Temporary Health Program.

"Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program also put our health care professionals in an untenable position, forcing them to choose who receives treatment based on complex rules. The fact remains that refugee claimants are in our country and until the federal government determines their status, many refugee claimants, including sick children and pregnant women, will require care.

"Today's ruling confirms what the Ontario government has said all along: we support a health care system that reflects the principles of fairness and compassion, providing the right care for those who need it."

— Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins