Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Helping those who need it

A pregnant woman stood crying in a Toronto grocery store after realizing that even though she was a landed immigrant, she still had to wait three months to gain access to public health care.

A pregnant woman stood crying in a Toronto grocery store after realizing that even though she was a landed immigrant, she still had to wait three months to gain access to public health care.

And then she met Manavi Handa, of West End Midwives.

“Somebody overheard her and said, ‘There’s actually a midwifery clinic down the street,’” said Handa, who is also a midwife professor at Ryerson University.

The daughter of South Asian immigrant parents, Handa works with immigrant and marginalized women and is an advocate of free health care for all pregnant women.

She is among four people being recognized today by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, a local group that promotes Toronto’s diversity.

“I’m incredibly humbled,” Handa said.

“I speak a bit more publicly about the issue and have made a little bit more noise, but there are a lot of midwives doing similar work so I really feel like I’m winning the award in recognition of all of us.”

New immigrants often arrive in Canada believing health care is free and are shocked when they’re asked to pay thousands of dollars up front to see a doctor, said Handa.

Ontario and British Columbia are the only two provinces in Canada that have a waiting period before landed immigrants have access to public health care.

Handa said many new immigrants end up seeking medical attention from midwives, who are funded to care for all women, regardless of their residential status.

“Health-care givers are health-care givers — they’re not immigration officers,” she said.

Handa added that prenatal care can prevent pre-term births, which can cost the health-care system hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Even if you don’t want to go the immigration or political route, it just makes a lot of sense.

These babies are Canadian. And they’re going to be, quote-unquote, a ‘burden’ financially on our system if they’re not healthy when they’re born,” she said.

 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles