Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners join doctors at rallies to mark one year since cuts to refugee health care

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners join doctors at rallies to mark one year since cuts to refugee health care


TORONTO, June 14, 2013 – Registered nurses and nurse practitioners will join physicians at a series of rallies planned for this coming Monday (June 17) to mark one year since Ottawa’s decision to cut health-care funding for refugees.

In June 2012, the federal government made changes to the Interim Federal Health Program, ending coverage for vision, dental and supplemental health benefits. Access to prescription drug benefits was also curtailed as well as access to most hospital services, except in urgent circumstances.

Since that decision, thousands of people have either been denied care or have been handed bills for care they received at hospitals and other health-care facilities.

Nurses and doctors are decrying these cuts by participating in the National Day of Action, organized by the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care with events taking place in 20 cities and towns across the country. Health-care providers attending these events will demand that the government reverse the cuts.

“The federal government’s decision to cut health funding for refugees remains an unfair and unethical action. Registered nurses across Ontario stand with other health professionals in condemning these cuts. A compassionate society does not ignore the health needs of people who deserve our support and help,” says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO.

“Refugees who come to Canada to escape their home country have tremendous challenges to overcome. In addition to dealing with oppressive and abusive systems they have left behind, they have to deal with language barriers, finding a place to live, and providing for themselves and their families. Denying them access to health care violates a basic human right,” says Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s chief executive officer.

Five RNAO members will be speaking at events across Ontario:

  • Sara Clemens, an RN and RNAO’s director of policy, will speak at Kitchener’s City Hall (200 King St. W.).
  • NP Heather Lokko will speak at London’s Victoria Park.
  • RN Susan Yates will speak at Guelph’s City Hall (1 Carden St.).
  • NP Sue Grafe will speak at Hamilton’s Citizenship and Immigration office (55 Bay St. N.).
  • NP Vanessa Wright will speak at Toronto’s Citizenship and Immigration office (25 St. Clair Ave. E.)

For more information about RNAO, please visit our website at

Melissa Di Costanzo, Communications Officer, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5606
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 250

Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Cell: 647-406-5605 / Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext. 209