Immigration Minister Jason Kenney thanks himself in petition posted to his website

Posted by admin on Jul 9th, 2012

by Joanna Smith–petition-thanking-immigration-minister-jason-kenney-posted-to-his-own-website

OTTAWA—If you want to sign a petition thanking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney for his efforts to reduce health benefits for refugees, look no further than his own website.

“We, the undersigned, thank Jason Kenney for his efforts to streamline benefits afforded to refugees (sic) claimants under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) and bring them in line with the benefits received by taxpaying Canadians, including new Canadians,” says the petition posted to the personal website for the Conservative MP for Calgary Southeast.

A spokeswoman for Kenney emailed a statement with a similar tone.

“Thousands of people have signed the petition since it was posted weeks ago. We encourage Star readers to visit to sign the petition on the website to support the government in its efforts to make sure that bogus asylum claimants are not receiving better healthcare than Canadian seniors,” Alexis Pavlich wrote in a statement Monday.

Earlier this month, all refugee claimants — except for government-sponsored refugees, such as those who arrive in Canada as permanent residents — lost federally funded supplemental health benefits for prescription drugs, dental work, vision care and medical devices like walkers and wheelchairs.

Those refugees who are rejected after exhausting all appeals are also no longer eligible for free health care of any kind, unless their conditions pose a risk to public health or safety, such as infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV.

Later, when the Conservative government comes up with its list of designated “safe” countries, refugee claimants hailing from nations on that list will face the same restrictions as rejected claimants.

The changes are expected to save the federal government $100 million over five years.

The petition is not currently featured prominently on the site, but a source said it was mailed out widely several weeks ago.

Unlike another petition showing support for legislation that would enable the federal government to more quickly deport foreign criminals, the petition on Kenney’s website thanking the minister for his work does not have a link on the homepage.

It also does not include a date, but a link to the petition posted to the Facebook page of Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham—Kent—Essex) on April 26 shows it has been around at least that long.

Conservative MP Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex) posted a link to the petition on Twitter that same day.

It is not known what role, if any, Kenney played in the wording of the text, but the minister is aware of the petition.

Doctors have been protesting the cuts by interrupting ministerial announcements, while a group of grassroots physicians calling itself Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care plan to track and publicize any negative impacts.

Kenney has painted the issue as one of fairness to Canadian taxpayers and the petition on his website makes the same argument.

“We don’t think that smuggled migrants and bogus asylum claimants should be getting better health care benefits than Canadian seniors and taxpayers. We think it is important that the government scale back some of the benefits provided to refugee claimants to make sure they get essential basic care and pharmaceuticals that are necessary for public health, but that they don’t get benefits (that are) not available to the average Canadian,” says the petition.

“We know that Canada has an obligation to accept refugees, but we do not think it is right for refugees to get better health benefits than Canadians receive.

“That is why we support Jason Kenney and his efforts to cut down on this abuse and to make sure that it is Canadian taxpayers that are the primary people benefiting from Canadian health care.”

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