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Ontario health care professionals call for OHIP to be extended to all residents

A coalition of health care professionals, labour groups and immigration advocates is calling for Ontario to extend health coverage to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.

“People should no longer be denied access to care, they should not be turned away from emergency rooms, they should not be asked for large amounts of money,” Dr. Ritika Goel said.

Goel, a spokeswoman for OHIP For All campaign, said extending OHIP benefits to all people living in Ontario was a human rights issue. She spoke at a rally in front of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Toronto

OHIP For All launched its campaign Tuesday with rallies in several Ontario cities including Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga, Ottawa, London, Kitchener and Peterborough.

The group also issued an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins asking for OHIP eligibility for new immigrants, temporary foreign workers, international students and others as soon as they arrive in the province.

Under the current system, new arrivals over the age of 16 face a waiting period of up to three months before getting OHIP and temporary foreign workers without contracts don’t get coverage.

The coalition says that, in that time, people can run up large health care costs, become severely ill or die because they cannot access health care.

Hoskins said he would take the group’s requests under advisement, adding that new Canadians are eligible for some health services through community health centres and that refugees have health coverage under the Interim Federal Health program.