Protesters clash with police in B.C. over cuts to the refugee health program

·Politics Reporter

Healthcare professionals and refugee advocates are continuing their protests against the Harper government's cuts to the refugee health program.

According to CKNW radio in Vancouver, about two dozen protesters clashed with police Tuesday morning as immigration minister Jason Kenney prepared to address the Surrey Board of Trade.

"It got testy," reporter Marcella Bernardo said.

"For several minutes RCMP were pleading with them to move off the private property."

Tuesday's action is just the latest in a series of actions against the government's health care cuts which would leave some refugee claimants with only 'urgent care' while others would be denied all care unless they have a disease that would be a risk to the public, such as tuberculosis.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the plan is to ensure refugees don't get better health care than ordinary Canadians. He said the move would save the government about $100 million over the next five years.

The reforms have sparked outrage among refugee advocates, experts in refugee health and other medical practitioners.

In May, about 80 doctors took part a sit-in at the Toronto office of federal cabinet minister Joe Oliver. On June 18, health care professionals across the country staged a National Day of Action for Refugee Health Care.

And last Friday, one aggravated doctor was able to get a seat in front of Oliver during a funding announcement at the Toronto General Hospital, and proceeded to dress down the minister.

The new rules are scheduled to become law on July 1.

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