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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Separate But Equal? Ontario Offers Free Mental Health Care To Immigrants In Special Program

by Riley Donovan, Red Ensign Clips


The recent death of Ruhn Maluaqh, a Sudanese refugee, intensified the growth of "mental-health supports for newcomers" and the overcoming of racist barriers set up by white men "in the way of accessing those supports".


The experience of the Canadian immigrant has historically been one of struggle and hardship. For most of our storied past, immigrants who came here were expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They were allowed to live in Canada, and respect and hard work was demanded in return. The experience of the modern day immigrant, by contrast, is often one of blissful comfort: handouts have been enshrined into law by the Trudeau government, provinces, and cities alike.

Our immigration department, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), has committed 2.2 million dollars of taxpayer money to fund a new program in Ontario: the Newcomers’ health and Wellbeing Program. This new program is “designed to meet the needs of each newcomer in a personalized and comprehensive manner”. Think about that the next time you are shelling out your hard-earned money on expensive prescription drugs or hunting for an available family clinic in town.

Here’s the really interesting part: settlement agencies and mental health care providers already provide service to immigrants and refugees, “but most of the existing resources are not designed with the specific and unique realities of immigrant populations in mind”. 

Yes, the programs our government and private industry provides to you and me are not quite up to the standard of immigrants in the strange times we live in. 

The new program will have a focus on “describ[ing] experiences of mental health” in a way that “ensure[s] that the clients’ spiritual and religious needs are met”. They are speaking here no doubt of tailoring mental health recovery services in a way that caters to foreign religious perspectives, probably the Islamic perspective in particular. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Canada.

Furthermore, interpretation services will be offered to provide the mental health interventions in the language most preferred by the immigrant. No doubt there are many more immigrants who don’t speak English or French since the Trudeau government rolled back the 2006 language proficiency requirement.

Previously applied to those aged 14-64, it now applies only from ages 18-54. This means that in an immigrant family composed of two grandparents, four children, and two parents, most likely only two out of eight need to speak one of the national languages. Not only has Canada completed the shift away from the core Anglo-French identity of the past, our new nation is busily dismantling any vestiges of basic civic nationalism found in simple policies like language requirements - as even this is seen as a form of exclusion unacceptable in a “post-national state” with “no core identity”. Trudeau has declared that “...at it’s best, Canadian identity is additive”.

The nation that was to become Canada was settled initially by French and British settlers, who carved a nation out of the harsh Northern wilderness. Pioneers sometimes ate a monotonous diet of pork three times a day, over and over. Wood had to be constantly gathered for the frigid winter and chilly fall months. Catharine Parr Traill describes a chair made out of a barrel. If you wanted tinware or boots mended, you often had to wait for a travelling tradesman. More reading on pioneer life can be found here.

Canadian, American, Swedish, Italian and Scottish workers at a Canadian National Railway construction camp, British Columbia, 1913

No Handouts For Whites Who Built Canada


Following this initial settlement, there were several main waves of immigrants. From the early to the mid 1800s 800 thousand British Isles residents arrived. From 1890 to 1920, Continental Europeans including many Eastern and Southern Europeans arrived. The Post-World War Two ‘Halifax Pier 21’ period brought some hundreds of thousands of Southern Europeans to Canada. Since the Canadian welfare state was only introduced in the late 20th century, to my knowledge not many (if any) of the immigrants in Pre-World War Two history would have received lifelong offers of aid from the government other than initial startup supplies in some cases (and acreages that the immigrants would have to develop themselves).

The experience of the (almost exclusively British Isles or European) Canadian settlers and immigrants from the 1600s to the mid 20th century could not be more different to the experience of the modern-day (largely non-European) immigrants and refugees who have started to arrive in the late 20th century. I was working with a Filipino immigrant this summer who informed me that his family came “for the free hospitals”. Here is a partial list of benefits received by newcomers today:
  • Government advising in job search, filling out forms and applications, finding a place of residence, and more
  • Federal Internship for Newcomers Program
  • Access to government interpreters and translators
Canadians need to research the true nature of our immigration system and share their findings with friends and family. Demanding immigration restriction by the federal government and an end to immigrant benefits by the provincial and municipal governments is not bigoted, it is essential for the survival of our country into the future, and something that will benefit landed immigrants and Old Stock Canadians alike.

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