The BC Health Coalition endorses the principles put forward by Sanctuary Health and Sanctuary City Vancouver for ensuring that all people have access to health care regardless of their immigration status. Community organizers have done an enourmous amount of work advocating and providing care for people who have been unable to access services due to immigration status.
The principles of a Sanctuary City are as follows:
1) Access to basic and essential services will be determined by need and not migration status
Services such as education, health services, food security, dignified housing, public transit, public safety, legal aid, and municipal services are meant for everyone regardless of status. This means:
- Not asking for proof of citizenship or information regarding immigration status when people are accessing services
- In circumstances when identification is required, service providers will accept other forms of identification, including but not limited to: letters of reference/support, municipal ID, expired ID
- Apply human and labour rights equally to all people regardless of migration status, and value people based upon their humanity
2) Access without fear
The fear of debt, deportation, and/or death should not limit people’s access to services. We recognize that the responsibility of enforcing immigration law falls onto Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) alone, and is NOT the responsibility of service providers, health care workers, other police agencies, transit security nor the municipal government. As such service providers will:
- Treat all information regarding other peoples’ immigration status as strictly confidential, and never share it with CBSA or CIC
- Create and ensure CBSA free zones, where public spaces such as hospitals, clinics, schools, parks, community centers, neighborhood houses, settlement services, food banks, libraries, shelters, construction sites, city hall and public transit are zones where CBSA are not called, welcomed, or allowed entry
- Ensure that municipal and public resources will not be used to support CBSA investigations or activities
Advocates from Sanctuary Health spoke about the importance all ensuring all people can access health care regardless of immigration status at an event we cohosted with Check Your Head.
You can learn more about Sanctuary City Vancouver and add your organization's name to the list of endorsements on the Sanctuary City Vancouver website: http://www.sanctuarycityvan.com/