Alberta Healthcare For All
As you are all aware, COVID-19 is a pandemic that has become a public health emergency in Canada. Many community organizations have been pushing the provincial government provide AHS for all Alberta residents, regardless of immigration status. Now more than ever, we need to ensure health care access is available to all. We ask that you support the following open letter, addressed to Premier Jason Kenny and provincial Health Minister Tyler Shandro
This letter initiated by Migrante Alberta and other organizations may be posted publicly and released to the media with signatories. It may also be published, or posted online on a website.
Please sign by filling the form below the open letter. ADD YOUR VOICE! Thank you
Hon. Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta
307 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Hon. Tyler Shandro
Minister of Health
423 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Re: Alberta Health Care for All
April 6, 2020
Dear Premier Kenny and Minister Shandro:
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is now a pandemic, and has become a public health emergency in Canada. Uninsured individuals in Canada are often denied access to care and can face insurmountable debt. We are deeply concerned about these pre-existing barriers to health care for uninsured individuals in Canada, specifically in Alberta and the potential public health implications in the context of a pandemic. As a group of health care providers and community members, we call on all levels of government, health institutions, and public health leaders to act now to ensure care for everyone.
The uninsured include newly-landed permanent residents, some temporary foreign workers, some international students, and undocumented residents. We need COVID-19 assessment centres and related care to be explicitly accessible to all people, regardless of immigration status. Calgary based epidemiologist Dr. Mukararram Ali Zaidi said “During a pandemic we should be able to provide healthcare for all’. Beyond this, we must recognize that people experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 will seek care through community clinics and hospitals, and therefore these sites must also be free and accessible to all.
“Healthcare is a human right. All people in Canada, irrespective of citizenship or residency status, deserve access to our publicly funded, universal health care system. Not only is this a correct moral policy position to take for the sake of the lives of all people in Canada, it is necessary to ensure that our entire population is able to effectively fight this virus” emphasized Calgary family physician Dr. Jillian Ratti. “To deny healthcare to migrants is to cruelly devalue their lives during this unprecedented threat to human health and also to put the lives of other Canadians at risk. If we don't treat absolutely everyone, our public health response is weakened and endangers the lives of us all” she added.
During this unprecedented time it is important that all levels of government, health institutions, and public health leaders work together to immediately:
1. Ensure COVID-19 assessment centres have an explicit policy to be free and accessible to all, regardless of immigration status;
2. Recognize that existing health care pathways such as community clinics and hospitals must be free and accessible to all people, regardless of immigration status, and work to remove barriers such as registration fees and bills, and implement appropriate staff training;
3. Develop a clear and explicit public messaging campaign to inform people that assessment and care is available to all residents, without charge, at COVID-19 centres and beyond;
4. Ensure health coverage for all people in Alberta, including access to care for COVID-19.
Consistent with the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, there is an urgent need for the Province of Alberta to step up and provide medically necessary services to all persons, including those without a healthcare card or health insurance.
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