Advocating for health care for all in the context of COVID-19

So much has changed in a short period of time with the COVID-19 pandemic. As Occupational Therapists, we are searching for ways to stay informed and engage in meaningful forms of advocacy that reflect our commitment to occupational justice for newcomers. Please see our March 2020 Newsletter for additional information. Below are some highlights specific to health care coverage and multi-lingual resources.

Provincial Health Care coverage: Due to ongoing advocacy work, some provincial health care coverage has been extended to cover individuals who are without health care coverage for COVID-19 related care. I note context of migrants, resettled refugees and refugee claimants, this can be due to wait periods before provincial insurance begins or because they have precarious status within Canada. See the Migrant Rights Network petition and website for additional advocacy tools and resources.

Québec:Most recently, the Government of Québec has agreed to cover the cost of COVID-19 health care expenses for all people without healthcare insurance, including those without status. Read the article in French.

Ontario: “To ensure that anyone in need of care can receive it, Ontario is waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. Additionally, the province will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. Together, these measures will ensure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for COVID-19 for financial reasons”.

Ontario expands coverage for care – newsroom report

British Columbia: Temporary coverage for Medical Services Plan available for BC residents. The waiting period has been waived. Read the Medical Services Plan for BC residents new brief for specific details.

Multi-lingual resources: Support the efforts of health care providers and advocates in your community to increase access to current, accurate, and place-specific health information on COVID-19. Contact OJNN at to add new resources to the list.

    • RSTP – List of COVID-19 resources in multiple languages
    •  COVID-19 Printable Project for Self Isolation and Self Management handouts in 26 languages. The Self Isolation handout is for the general public on what self isolation entails. The Self Management handout is for people who have been assessed by a health care professional and testing results are pending results or have been confirmed as positive for COVID-19. The resources will be updated regularly and are based on best practice guidelines.
    • World Health Organization – resources in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish
    • Ontario Ministry of Health – scroll to the bottom to access information in 33 languages
    • Alberta Health Services – posters and signs in English, French, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Punjabi, Tigrinya, Vietnamese
    • Advocate for your local Public Health Agency and workplace to translate necessary resources into all languages required in your area. Click here for COVID-19 backgrounders in Tigrinya and Amharic
    • Advocates and scholars at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University engaged crowdsourcing to translate and update health care and financial resources specific to Canada, Ontario and Toronto in Amharic. They are looking for community translators to assist with Tigrinya translations.

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