Young Canadian Man’s Appeal is Rejected by OHIP
24 November 2014, Ottawa, Algonquin territory – In a highly unusual move, the Ontario Provincial Government has told Deepan Budlakoti, a young Canadian-born man, that the free health care he has utilized for the past 25 years is no longer accessible to him.
The decision comes after Hon. Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, contacted the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to inform them that Mr. Budlakoti is not a citizen, despite Budlakoti holding an Ontario Birth Certificate since 1989 and a Canadian passport since 2003. Although Budlakoti is fighting this ministerial decision in Federal Court, OHIP has already rescinded his access to health care, leaving the young man without basic coverage for the past year.
“Denying OHIP coverage to any person residing in the province of Ontario is needlessly cruel, and sets a dangerous precedent. Health is a basic human right, and the denial of health care coverage to any person should not be tolerated. OHIP should be made available to all Ontario residents, regardless of their immigration status,” says Melanie Spence, a doctor with Health for All.
The Ministry’s decision to deny Budlakoti access to health care is particularly striking after the Federal Court’s recent decision in Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care et al v. Canada (2014), which reversed the federal government’s cuts to refugee health care. The court established that denying health care to vulnerable individuals constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
“All I want is to have the same rights as any other Canadian. I was born here. This is my country,” Budlakoti said. Budlakoti, whose citizenship rights were taken away after 23 years of living as a Canadian citizen, is vulnerable without health care coverage. He faces the crippling prospect of thousands of dollars in medical bills should he be taken ill or be in need of medical assistance.
“Budlakoti is entitled to health care, just like other citizens, residents, and refugees in this country. OHIP is our provincial service and so should reflect our national commitment to the lives and wellbeing of all members of our community, rather than punish and endanger vulnerable individuals and communities” said Stacy Douglas of the Justice for Deepan Support Committee.
Budlakoti is currently seeking redress via the Health Care Appeal Board. The hearing takes place via teleconference between three locations (Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto). There will be demonstrations in Kingston and Toronto, and a media availability in Ottawa.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY OF DEEPAN BUDLAKOTI PRIOR TO HEARING
Time & Date: 2:15 PM, Wednesday, November 26
Location: Hameed & Farrokhzad Law Firm, 43 Florence Street, Ottawa
HEARING & ACTION DETAILS
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 26, 3pm
Kingston: 1055 Princess Street (Action at street level)
Toronto: 151 Bloor Street (Action at street level)
Ottawa: 43 Florence Street (No Action; Media availability 2:15pm)
Deepan Budlakoti: 613.265-.364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Yavar Hameed, Legal Counsel: tel. 613.232.2688 ext. 228 or 613.853.0840
Stacy Douglas, Support Committee Member: 613.710.9059
Daniel Cayley-Daoust, French Media: 819.593.4579
Melanie Spence, Member of Health for All (Toronto): 416.726.1840
Karl Flecker (Kingston): 343.363.0087
Justice for Deepan Support Committee
The Justice for Deepan Support Committee was formed in July 2013 to support Deepan Budlakoti in his quest to have his citizenship restored. Justice For Deepan rejects the Canadian state’s systematic, racist policy of ‘double punishment’ in which im/migrants, refugees and those without status are punished twice, once through the use of criminal law and then again through immigration law.