Letter from Health Professionals in Support of Laibar Singh

Posted by admin on Oct 15th, 2007


October 9, 2007

The Honourable Minister Diane Finley, Minsiter of Citizenship and Immigration
The Honourable Minister Stockwell Day, Minsiter of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

As health professionals, we are deeply concerned about the situation of Mr. Laibar Singh, who is currently facing deportation around October 20th, 2007. Mr. Singh came to Canada in 2003 and his refugee claim of persecution at the hands of state police has been rejected based mostly on minor inconsistencies. While in Canada, Mr. Singh worked as a labourer, doing one of the many low-wage jobs that rely on immigrant and refugee labour. Unfortunately, Mr. Singh’s life suddenly and irreversibly changed when he suffered a cerebral aneurysm in June of 2006. Paraplegic, unable to feed or clean himself, suffering from severe renal impairment, Mr. Singh spent months at the Vancouver General Hospital and had also been at the George Pearson Centre receiving 24-hour care.

In July 2007, Mr. Singh took sanctuary at the Abbotsford Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara. While in sanctuary, his health deteriorated rapidly and he had to be admitted to the hospital. On August 13th, Abbotsford police and Canadian Border Services Agency arrested him and detained him despite his extremely fragile state of health. Thanks to the on-going support Mr. Singh received from a wide spectrum of supporters, he was granted a sixty-day stay of deportation on August 20th, 2007 and subsequently released from custody. But till today, he continues to face the threat of deportation.

As health professionals, we are outraged at the fact that the Canadian government would consider deporting a paraplegic man, whose health condition is extremely fragile. Deporting Mr. Singh would mean preventing him from accessing necessary health care services, removing him from a remarkable support network that is providing for his needs, uprooting him from his new home and family and sending him away to total insecurity and uncertainty. The deportation of Mr. Singh from Canada could be synonymous with a death sentence.

As written by the B.C Hospital Employees Union in a separate letter “As health care workers on the frontline we fight to preserve a public healthcare system whereby people receive medical treatment based on their health needs. We do not judge people based on their income, social status or behaviour… Clearly Mr. Singh is in need of medical attention… Therefore we ask that as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration you allow Mr. Laibar Singh to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and ensure that his medical needs are met.”

Moreover, forcing Mr. Singh to live in a constant state of limbo, where his life and health are at stake, is inhumane and has been associated with many detrimental health effects and mental health disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Disorder. It is our understanding that Mr. Singh has been suffering from panic attacks for the past year, for which he was prescribed psychotropic agents.

We are aware that a wide variety of human rights organizations, disability advocates and health advocacy groups have already expressed their support for Mr. Singh’s bid to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These groups include the Canadian Labour Congress, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, B.C Hospital Employees Union, the Multifaith Action Committee, and a long list of South Asian community groups and gurudwaras.

Mr. Singh has also received political support from provincial and federal politicians from all political parties including Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi, NDP MP Bill Siksay, NDP MP Libby Davies, Conservative MP Nina Grewal, Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, NDP MLA Harry Bains, and NDP MLA Jenny Kwan

We would like to join these concerned voices in expressing our support for Mr. Laibar Singh. For the sake of his safety, health and well being, we fully support him and demand that you grant him permanent residency status on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds immediately. If you have any questions, you may contact us through Dr. Nazila Bettache at 514 691 0471.


Nazila Bettache, M.D., C.M.
Mandeep Dhillon, M.D.
Samir Shaheen-Hussain, M.D.
Misty Malott, R.N., MScN
Catherine Gagnon, RN
Olivier Sabella, M.D.
Scott Weinstein, RN
Marie-Jo Ouimet, M.D.
Tarek Loubani, M.D.
Shona MacKenzie RN(EC)
Laura Hanson, RN
Jen Plyler, M.S.W, R.S.W.
Helen Hudson, Msc(A) Nursing
Abeer Majeed M.D.
Janet Cleveland, Ph.D., psychologist
Navdeep Sidhu, M.D., M.S
Martha Roberts, R.M
Andrea Rossignol R.N
Sylvie Laurion, Ph.D Psychologist
Jesse McLaren, M.D.
Lisa Mu, M.D.
Faiza Majeed, M.D
Aida Sadr, M.D
Cécile Rousseau, MD

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