The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care is a volunteer driven health and dental charity. Everything our volunteer health professionals do is dedicated to ensuring all refugees and immigrants new to Canada receive care without judgment of circumstances or ability to pay. Our volunteer dental team includes oral health care to working impoverished Canadians.
Who can look the other way? At CCRIHC we can’t when a 12 year old refugee girl is fleeing for her life from Africa and is suddenly stricken with diabetes, just 3 weeks after arriving. Mariam fell through our healthcare cracks, and our doors. She was within hours of dying in a homeless shelter, in your community….
Our volunteer medical and dental clinics are built for our Canadian communities; so talented and dedicated Canadian health professionals have a place to volunteer and help every refugee in health difficulty, regardless of status. Vaccines and medical care are given to refugee children so they can attend school. Medical care for all conditions is offered. Pregnant refugee women fleeing war receive care. We push the limits to make this happen. We ask for favours of generosity and abundance. Our solutions challenge the healthcare status quo. Immigration is Canada’s strength, heritage, and future. It is why Canada has succeeded. If it is their job to get their children out of harms way, then it is our job when they are here to support their Canadian progress when health issues stand in their way.
Miriam’s health coverage in Canada was not yet processed. Her dad took her to a walk-in clinic. He did not have the money the clinic required up front to treat Mariam. They left. Our volunteer physicians and staff rushed Mariam to Sick Kids Hospital – where she spent 10 days. Mariam has mastered injecting her own Insulin. She is back is in school learning, making new friends. They have a hospital bill for $22,000. Mariam’s story is all too common.
It surprises and troubles most Canadians that hundreds of thousands of newcomers to Canada like Mariam and her family subsist without healthcare coverage. We believe every human is created with the same love and hope. We all matter the same. When Marian was in Africa, Doctors Without Borders knew this. They provided physicians, nurses, medicine. We exist to ensure that Mariam’s fighting chance continues when she is here in Canada. It’s the least we can do.
Dr. Paul Caulford
MSc. MD CCFP FCFP
A family physician in Scarborough since 1979, Doctor Caulford is recognized for his advocacy, medical care and health equity initiatives on behalf of refugees, all immigrants new to Canada and other vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Jennifer D'Andrade RN
Ms D'Andrade is a public health nurse in Toronto with a long and recognized history of providing grassroots, street level health care to the homeless, marginalized and refugees in the Greater Toronto Area.
Our Origins: From Church Basement to The Canadian Centre
Aisha was 13 years old in 1995, and new to Canada. Her Canadian father sponsored her. Aisha’s country was unsafe. War was raging. Children were dying. In 1999 Aisha was entering nursing college. But a sickle cell disease crisis would get in the way. Aisha turned to a GTA Emergency Room for help. They turned her away. She did not have the $350 required to see a doctor. Aisha was denied health coverage in Canada despite working, living and going to school here – for 4 years. She sat down in the ER waiting room. She waited. When she collapsed into unconsciousness, she was taken in. Five days later she was handed a large medical bill that ended her nursing dreams.
What we saw shocked us. Aisha showed us that for many new to Canada, some are not “Canadian enough” to receive life saving healthcare. Our research revealed that hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants reside and work in Canada, yet are denied access to healthcare. Being turned away for care often has devastating results. They fought for their lives when they fled. Why would we make them do that again here when they were ill?
We could not look the other way. At The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare, with the publics’ help, this tragedy is being turned into healing and compassion every day. The Centre’s programs reflect the true heart of Canada, by enabling care for all. Canada is a nation of immigrants. The immigrant experience is something every Canadian Family shares. It is why Canada is successful. We believe Canada is a compassionate society. What makes Canada great is its ability and willingness to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate, and give them a fighting chance.