Advocacy for children

Letters to Parliament

Letter Re: Decision to Alter the Census Canada Long Form

Title Again: 
Letter Re: Decision to Alter the Census Canada Long Form
Intro Body: 

The Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry, Government of Canada
C.D. Howe Building, 235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

19 July 2010

Re: decision to alter the Census Canada long form

Main Body: 

Dear Mr. Clement:

The Atlantic Pediatric Society, a group of 117 pediatricians in Atlantic Canada and beyond, urges you to reconsider your change to the long form of the Canada Census. The replacement of a mandatory with a voluntary approach will reduce the validity of the information collected since it is well documented that volunteers are not representative of the population. This is precisely the kind of bias that any high quality census or random sample is designed to overcome. The information collected with the mandatory form is not perfect but our organization sees no rationale for replacing an imperfect but highly useful method of data collection with a less robust approach.

The second point is that the long form must be looked at in the context of the Canadian government’s tools used to monitor the country and the impact of both private and public sector policy. Compared to other OECD countries, Canada does poorly in monitoring processes, policies and people. Unlike the U.S.A. or the U.K., we do not have comprehensive community survey tools that might be able to buffer the abandonment of the long form, as is the case in the United States.

For the foreseeable future, the Census Canada long form provides information that cannot be assessed by other information tools and decisions to alter it must take into account Canada’s overall evaluation strategy.

Finally, this change will be difficult to undo if it is realized later that the negative consequences outweigh the benefits. This again, implies a careful appraisal of the impact of this decision and the provision of a means by which stakeholders can provide input into such a consequential decision.

Yours sincerely,

(sent by regular mail)

John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC
President, Atlantic Pediatric Society

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Letter Re Bill C31

Title Again: 
Letter Re Bill C31
Intro Body: 

30 May 2012

The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Re: Bill C-31

Main Body: 

Dear Minister Kenney:

I am writing on behalf of the Atlantic Pediatric Society regarding Bill C-31, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. While we agree with the need to control human smuggling, Bill C-31 goes too far in victimizing refugees and will cause undue harm to children who are the most vulnerable targets of the bill.

With this Bill, the federal Government is drastically reducing health coverage for all classes of refugees. Some will be denied coverage entirely, most will receive coverage limited to:
- those of "an urgent or essential nature" and
- "medications and vaccines only if needed to prevent or treat a disease that is a risk to public health or a condition of safety concern".

Refugee children will be ineligible for vaccines; pregnant refugees will be ineligible for routine antenatal care. This will have devastating health consequences for women and children and is bound to result in birth complications and put the lives of women and children at risk.

In addition, the Bill states that: Refugee claimants arriving as a group can, on designation by the Minister, be incarcerated in high-security prisons for one year without review. Children aged 16 or more will be imprisoned as if they were adults. Children under 16 will either be
separated from their parents and handed over to child protection agencies, or unofficially detained with their parents.

Studies have shown that “detention increases risk of suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder and self-harm in refugee claimants.” Bill C-31 will cause psychological harm and suffering to highly vulnerable people who have already experienced repeated trauma. The
separation of young children from their imprisoned families could cause significant, lasting traumatic effects.

We are asking that you amend Bill C-31 and find ways to protect innocent victims from the provisions of the Bill in its present form. We sympathize with efforts to control human smuggling but this cannot be done on the backs of children.

Yours sincerely,

John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAP
President, Atlantic Pediatric Society

Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety
David Tilson, Chair, Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-31 (Conservative Party)
Jinny Jogindera Sims, Vice-chair, Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-31 and shadow minister
of immigration (NDP)
Kevin Lamoureux Vice-chair, Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-31 (Liberal Party)
Irwin Cotler Shadow minister of Justice (Liberal Party)

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