Rupert’s Land goes to bat for refugees

Under new federal regulations, church-sponsored refugees will no longer have access to government-funded health care. Photo: John Lavall
Under new federal regulations, church-sponsored refugees will no longer have access to government-funded health care. Photo: John Lavall
By on October 1, 2012

Federal cuts to refugee health care will deter church groups from sponsoring refugees, Anglican Church of Canada officials have warned. “Clearly, it would cut down on the number of refugees that we are able to accept because church groups just don’t have the resources to pay [for medical care],” said Bishop Don Phillips of the diocese of Rupert’s Land, where more than 2,000 refugees have been sponsored.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Adele Finney, executive director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, have expressed “deep concern” about the cuts to the Interim Federal Health program. Previously, private sponsors assumed the cost of food, shelter and transportation for a year, while the government provided health care. Under the revised rules, which took effect June 30, church-sponsored refugees will no longer have access to government-funded health care.

On June 26, the diocese of Rupert’s Land and the Hospitality House Refugee Ministry, which sponsors refugees with funds from the Anglican diocese of
Rupert’s Land and the Roman Catholic Archepiscopal Corporation of Winnipeg, announced plans to file a lawsuit against the federal government.

“We’re treating those [sponsorship agreements] as legal contracts,” said Phillips. “Our basic action in court is to say that the government breached its own contract.”-M.S.

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  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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