Canada Immigration: "No HealthCare for Illegal Immigrants", says Court

Two sides of An Argument : Nell Toussaint failed to return to Grenada after expiry of her visa and had been staying on in Canada illegally. The court’s ruling to toughen healthcare laws has invited mixed reactions. Supporters say the decision will prevent medical tourism in Canada wherein tourists explicitly come to the country to get paid medical treatments.

A resident of Toronto, Toussaint developed kidney complications in 2006. She was already ailing from a host of other health problems including diabetes, blood clots and tumors. Unable to pay the bills herself, Toussaint applied for permanent residency in 2008. It would entitle her to receive a health-cover. Owing to nonpayment of the relevant fees, her application was not considered. She filed her case in several refugee rights and support organizations over the years, but her applications were refused. Toussaint however, later won a rule for her application fees to be considered, but her right to healthcare was refused.

Past Laze Results in Present Haze: Judge David Stratas, writing for the three-member Federal Court of Appeal argued that the federal government would have helped her cause had she not been an illegal immigrant. Another factor working against Toussaint was she had failed to pay up her residency- application fees, nullifying chances of processing.

The Court further argued saying that the appellant was at fault for endangering her own life and by not adhering to the laws of the country. Also Toussaint’s illegal immigration status was active for over ten years – raising more questions on her intent. Judge Stratas pointed out that had he ruled in favor of Toussaint it would have been unfair justice and also become an encouraging call for others to do the same and get away scot free.

Sensibility versus Rights: The court’s stand on Toussaint’s case has been hailed as a sensible one. It acts as a potential barrier for people who intend to come into Canada and exploit the medical laws for their own benefit. The detractors of the ruling however opine that the Court’s verdict violates Toussaint’s rights of life and equality.

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