Québec City, May 30, 2018 – In an investigation report released today, the Québec Ombudsman shed light on the situation of children who do not qualify for the Québec Health Insurance Plan because their parents have a precarious migratory status. And yet, these children are born in Québec and are therefore Canadian citizens. What’s more, they live in Québec within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act and the Regulation respecting eligibility and registration of persons in respect of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec.
As Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret argues, "by excluding these children from the public health insurance plan, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) runs the risk of depriving them of the healthcare and social services they need in order to develop."
Keep children’s status apart from their parents’ migratory status
These children do not have a right to coverage under the public plan because RAMQ automatically correlates their eligibility with their parents’ migratory status. However, as the Québec Ombudsman sees it, the Act and the Regulation enable them to be considered eligible from birth if they are settled in Québec and live in Québec at least 183 days a year.
The Québec Ombudsman also pointed out that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by Canada and endorsed by Québec by order in council, provides for the right of every child to have access to healthcare.
Broaden access without hampering the required controls
The Québec Ombudsman understands that RAMQ exercises all due caution to ensure that free healthcare is reserved for the people who qualify. It feels that the Act and the Regulation provide RAMQ with the instruments needed to counter abuse. The fact of reviewing the eligibility of the children concerned does not hamper monitoring by RAMQ in any way.
The Québec Ombudsman considers that the solution lies in applying the Act as written because the legislation makes it clear that the eligibility for the public health plan of children born in Québec and settled in Québec must have nothing to do with their parents’ migratory status.
The Québec Ombudsman is an impartial and independent institution tasked to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld in their dealings with Québec government departments and agencies, health and social services institutions, and correctional facilities. As such, it contributes to improving the quality and integrity of public services.
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