Halifax, NS (April 29, 2020) – Approximately forty Nova Scotians participated in a “virtual banner” calling for immediate healthcare for migrants without access. The solidarity action was coordinated by the migrant rights group No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk (NOII-Hfx).
Faced with having to adhere to physical distancing measures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice groups have had to adapt and rethink usual methods of protesting. Inspired by the work of arts organizer David Solnit who’s been coordinating virtual banners and “virtual art builds”, NOII-Hfx has coordinated a similar action. Participants created and took a photo with one letter, in order to spell out the message: “Leave no one behind: healthcare for migrants now.”
“We can’t leave anyone behind in our response to COVID-19 and in general. This pandemic is highlighting that healthcare is a human right and vital for our collective public health –now and always,” said Tina Oh, a NOII-Hfx organizer that helped to coordinate the virtual banner.
Undocumented residents in Nova Scotia do not have access to public health services. In addition, some temporary foreign workers, some international students and some asylum seekers also do not have coverage.
While Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba have announced the temporary expansion of health insurance coverage to include all migrants in response to COVID-19, this has not been the case in Nova Scotia.
NOII-Hfx is also collecting signatures from healthcare professionals and concerned community members for an open letter urging provincial officials to ensure access to healthcare for migrants who do not currently have coverage. Thus far, over 300 health care workers, community members, and organizations in Nova Scotia have signed the open letter. In addition, the group has released a community advisory with information and resources for migrants needing support in the context of COVID-19.
NOII-Hfx calls for permanent residency status for all, including access to all public services such as health care.
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Tina Oh, No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk NOII.Hfx@gmail.com