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National notice

Sylvia Reitmanova’s research has gained national attention following a column in the Globe and Mail.

Globe and Mail features grad student’s work


by Sharon Gray


Newfoundland and Labrador has a distinct advantage for international students over several other provinces and territories, and it took a Memorial medical graduate student to point it out. In four provinces and two territories international students are denied access to medicare – Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Nunavut.

An article in the April 10 Globe and Mail by André Picard, titled Extending medicare to foreign students is a no-brainer, quoted research by Sylvia Reitmanova, a PhD student in the Division of Community Health and Humanities at Memorial. Ms. Reitmanova’s article in the March edition of the journal Policy Options maintains about 85,000 international students in the above-mentioned Canadian provinces and territories are legally entitled to medicare benefits.

Ms. Reitmanova’s article argues that preventing international students from universal health insurance coverage is taxation without representation. In addition, the lack of this coverage causes students financial hardship and puts the health of many at risk. In June 2007, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador extended health care coverage to international postsecondary students in the province. But the lack of coverage for international students in the four provinces and two territories not covered causes students financial hardship and puts the health of many at risk. Ms. Reitmanova’s article examines Canadian health, immigration and family legislation and concludes that rather than doing students a favour, Newfoundland and Labrador merely did what is required by law.

The Globe and Mail article agreed with Ms. Reitmanova’s conclusions and goes on to say that to deny international students health benefits is hardly worth the bother. “International student are, almost universally, young and healthy,” wrote Mr. Picard. “They barely eat up any health-care resources. The cost of the bureaucracy to shut them out of medicare is probably equal to or greater than the cost of health care provision itself.”

Ms. Reitmanova is pleased that her research was picked up by the Globe and Mail and she hopes that it leads to universal extension of medicare benefits to all international students studying in Canada. For more information on this issues, visit www.irpp.org/po/archive/mar08/reitmanova.pdf.
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