Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul’s, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, health care workers in lab coats and ordinary Canadians are unified across Canada today denouncing the government’s decision to strip refugees of much of their health benefits, including insulin and emergency surgery.
An Afghan man who worked for the Canadian military in Kandahar before resettling his family here in Canada as government sponsored refugees now says “I need to decide if my kids should suffer hunger or let my wife go without her medicines”.
How can the government turn its back on the core Canadian values of compassion and fairness?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member has it all wrong. The reality is that under our reformed interim federal health program, resettled refugees will receive the same comprehensive health insurance that all Canadian permanent residents receive from their provincial governments. What they will not receive are supplementary benefits that Canadians do not get.
Canadians have told us that they do not think they should be forced to pay through their taxes for supplementary benefits for refugees that Canadians, including low-income Canadians, do not get. What is it that the member does not understand about basic fairness? Yes, all Canadians should get quality basic health care, but we should not be choosing refugees alone to get taxpayer funded supplementary benefits.