B.C. promises to fix MSP-application process to ensure children of migrants get coverage

November 2, 2016

By Nick Eagland, Vancouver Sun |

A representative for migrants struggling to get health coverage for their B.C.-born children is “in a bit of shock” after the Ministry of Health called her organization this week with a pledge to fix the problem.

Following months of campaigning by Sanctuary Health and the B.C. Health Coalition, three ministry staff phoned both organizations Tuesday to assure them it will help the affected families acquire coverage.

Parents with precarious-immigration status, represented by both groups, had complained the application process for B.C.’s medical-services plan prevented them from enrolling their B.C. born children.

The ministry’s call came a day after Postmedia published a front-page article about the struggle of two parents from Mexico who have five times attempted to enrol their 18-month-old, B.C.-born son for MSP coverage.

Both parents said their applications were hampered by requirements they provide documentation they don’t possess and concern their identities would be shared with the Canada Border Services Agency.

“I think we’re still in a bit of shock,” Sanctuary’s Ingrid Méndez said after the call Tuesday.

“The conversation turned out to be a good conversation,” said her colleague, Byron Cruz.

Sanctuary members said they were told it was likely an “administrative error” that hampered the application process. They said they were assured the ministry would work with them to get affected children registered for MSP coverage while the ministry reviews what caused the “administrative challenges” in the first place.

Cruz said concern about the ministry contacting the CBSA was a major factor for these families and said the ministry assured them it doesn’t contact border officials.

Alejandra Lopez-Bravo said Sanctuary was also asked specifically about 25 affected families.

No one from the Ministry of Health was available for comment Wednesday but spokeswoman Kristy Anderson provided a statement confirming that a meeting took place Tuesday.

“It is concerning to hear that children born in B.C., whose parents are trying to make our province their home, are struggling to access MSP coverage,” Anderson said.

“In an effort to find a solution, staff from the Ministry of Health have met with Sanctuary Health and the B.C. Health Coalition, to better understand the challenges facing these parents in applying for MSP for their children.”

Anderson said a ministry representative has now been assigned to “work through each of the current cases to ensure coverage is provided where appropriate.”

She said the ministry appreciated the chance to learn about barriers new immigrants face in getting MSP coverage and used the meeting to explain the MSP-application process in place for families who move to B.C.

“We are pleased to be working with these two organizations and these new B.C. residents, and look forward to helping them get the coverage they need,” she said.


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