Rallies across the province call on Ontario government to extend OHIP to all residents of Ontario

On June 28, 2020 rallies across Ontario marked the launch of the OHIP for All Campaign. Led by healthcare workers, students, social service providers, migrants, and community members, the campaign calls on the Ontario government to stop the unfair denial of healthcare and extend OHIP coverage to all residents of Ontario, regardless of their immigration status. In Toronto, one of seven host cities, the rally was held at the Ministry of Health on Bay Street.

“Ontario prides itself on welcoming newcomers, yet we deny people the most basic human right the right to health care services,” explains Melanie Spence a registered nurse that attended the Toronto rally. “There are an estimated 200,000 people living in Ontario who can’t get healthcare because of their immigration status. Ontario can, and must, do better. It is time that we treat everyone with equity and compassion. It is time for OHIP for All.”

Canadians pride themselves on a universal healthcare system, but many people living are denied access to healthcare. In Ontario this includes new immigrants, temporary foreign workers, international students, people pending inland sponsorship, humanitarian claimants, non-status people and returning Canadian citizens.

For example, in 2011 Maki Ueyama and her husband received a $22,000 bill after the birth of their twins because they were born several months premature and during the 3 month OHIP waiting period for new immigrants. More recently, Duncan McCorkell was diagnosed with colon cancer, denied lifesaving treatment and subsequently died as a result of his illness in Toronto.

The cross province rallies for OHIP for All build on momentum generated by the Sanctuary City movements in Toronto and Hamilton and the successful opposition to Conservative government cuts to refugee healthcare. The campaign joins the broader call to make all provincial services accessible without fear of denial, debt, or deportation.

The OHIP for All campaign is endorsed by over 750 individuals and organizations to date, including The Council of Canadians, The Association of Ontario Midwives, The Association of Ontario Health Centres, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, and Toronto Public Health.

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