REGINA – Today Meara Conway, MLA for Regina Elphinstone-Centre, called on the Minister of Health to reverse his decision to deny healthcare coverage to a Saskatchewan-born infant and Canadian citizen who contracted COVID-19 because of the immigration status of his mother.
“The only difference between my child and Ms. Pereira’s is her immigration status,” said Conway. “Both our children were born here in Regina and are Canadian citizens. Why Minister Merriman would deny this infant health coverage is beyond understanding.”
Ms. Pereira is an Indian citizen who came to Canada in 2018 on a student visa. Her child is a Canadian citizen, with a Canadian passport, born in Regina in August 2020. The situation became precarious when both Ms. Pereira and her newborn son contracted COVID-19, and her son began exhibiting breathing problems and required a trip to the ER.
Conway was contacted by Ms. Pereira in February after she had attempted twice to obtain a health card for her infant son without success. Conway wrote to the Minister on February 9th 2021 to ensure that a health card would be issued to the infant. Minister Merriman followed up with a letter denying the child Saskatchewan health coverage based on the immigration status of his mother on February 23rd, 2021.
“It’s not about me. This is about my baby. He is a Canadian citizen. He holds a Canadian passport and isn’t eligible for health coverage. It’s very cruel,” said Ms. Pereira. “I am in a very difficult position, waiting to see if I am eligible for a student visa. I have a letter of offer from the University of Saskatchewan, and I have worked in the healthcare field. I am ready to work and contribute. Even though I am in this difficult position, I am speaking out because I don’t want another family to have to go through this. This is wrong and it has been very, very difficult.”
A child born in Canada is by definition a Canadian citizen and entitled to the rights and privileges that accompany that, including healthcare coverage. Despite being settled in most jurisdictions in Canada, this issue was most recently debated in Quebec. Last summer, Premier Legault promised Quebecers that his government would close this decades-long loophole and provide health-coverage to all Quebec-born children.
“It is heartless and cruel that this government is discriminating against a Canadian-born child of immigrants,” said Conway. “The government must immediately provide health coverage to this child and ensure that no other Canadian citizens are discriminated against and are treated in this way in the future.”