open letter to ontario government from legal organizations re cuts to essential healthcare
This morning, 19 public interest legal organizations sent this open letter to the Ontario Attorney General, putting the Ontario government on notice that the recent and sudden cuts to essential healthcare violates the Charter. Specifically, the rights to life & security of the person; the right against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, and the right to equality are at issue. Together with NLS, these organizations urge the Ontario government to pause these healthcare cuts to assess their impact.
Neighbourhood Legal Services and the Health Justice Program are profoundly disappointed that the Ontario Government plans to end a vital program that provides OHIP coverage to uninsured people living in Ontario. This program successfully improves health outcomes and reduces financial hardship for many people who need hospital-based services.
This cancellation announcement came without notice and is set to come into effect on March 31, 2023. Cancelling this program will harm the most marginalized Ontarians, disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities, as well as people living with disabilities.
There are many reasons Ontarians may not have an OHIP card: they may be unhoused and lose their identification; leave a violent home with no belongings; struggle with addiction issues; or are elderly and unable to take care of themselves let alone renew their OHIP card. They may also be on temporary work or study permits, or without authorized immigration status, living and working in Ontario for years.
People with severe health conditions should not have to wait until it is too late to seek care because they are afraid that they will be rejected, saddled with mounting debt, or stuck in costly red tape to replace their identification. As a team of legal and healthcare workers, we understand that nobody is served by imposing bureaucratic, legal and financial barriers to accessing necessary medical treatment. Cancelling this program will only push people’s health conditions downstream, requiring more intensive and expensive emergency care. Access to healthcare saves lives and prevents health complications and suffering.
The pandemic showed us what is possible when we prioritize the health needs of the entire population, and commit to not leaving anybody behind. Our communities were able to access necessary treatment without fear, allowing them to work, live and learn in comfort and dignity. We urge the provincial government to save lives by ensuring continued access to healthcare for uninsured people living in Ontario.
We also encourage members of the public to send a message to the Premier and to their MPP through Healthcare4All’s website here, and to read about the need to maintain this program and the devastating impact that cuts to this program will have.
NLS makes submissions to standing committee on justice policy studying bail reform
NLS' housing team led by Brendan Jowett provided an important perspective to the Standing Committee on Justice looking at bail reform. Too often bail conditions include prohibition from attending at one's residence. This harsh condition creates homelessness and is cruel and disproportionate. See the submissions here.
proposed immigration class action
First British Columbia, and then Nova Scotia, recently ended immigration detention in provincial jails. See this Human Rights Watch story for more details.
If you were held in a prison for immigration-related purposes, you could be part of a class action lawsuit.
A proposed class action lawsuit has been started against the Government of Canada for people who were placed in prison by the Canada Border Services Agency ("CBSA"). You do not have to pay anything to join this class action. YOu also will not have to pay any money if the case is not successful. The lawyers will get paid only if the lawsuit is successful, and only at the end. See here for more information and who to contact.
The NLS Blog
Our blog shares information with our community on legal developments and other important issues. As such we hope you'll find this blog informative - and maybe even fun.