“This article analyzes the experiences of refugee claimants in Toronto’s everyday healthcare places, like walk-in clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals, in the aftermath of the 2012 Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) revisions. By drawing upon critical migration scholarship that prioritizes (non)citizenship, as well as semi-structured interviews, I highlight how the social positioning of refugee claimants is modulated in ways that justify and extend the IFHP revisions to effectively deny access to healthcare, demonstrating the indeterminacy of access. I understand this process through the concept of irregularity, a non-juridical status that is contingently configured and enforced by state and non-state actors when one is (re)constructed as ‘out of place,’ hence limiting access to resources and rights. In accordance with citizenship, it indicates how we can think of the (re)fashioning of people and groups particularly within the everyday. I follow this with a critical analysis of the contestations that emerged to challenge the IFHP revisions and the irregularity of refugee claimants so as to capture the politics of irregularity.”
“The confusion and barriers created through the IFHP revisions came to an end in April 2016 when the program was fully restored to its pre-2012 levels under the newly elected federal Liberal government; it was further expanded in April 2017 to refugees awaiting resettlement to Canada. However, concerns continue to be raised about the healthcare barriers faced
by refugee claimants and other un(der)insured and nonstatus persons (Caulford & Rahunathan, 2017; Chen, Gruben & Liew, 2018; Wright, 2018), alerting us to how this program perpetuates health inequality and contributes to the (re)irregularization of refugee claimants. In this article, I draw on critical citizenship and migration scholarship (Baines & Sharma, 2002; Castañeda, 2013; Hepworth, 2014; Isin, 2002), to highlight how the irregularity of refugee claimants was (re)constructed during the time of revisions (2012-2016) in ways that led to denied access to healthcare coverage and services. I also reveal how healthcare providers resist irregularity – as acts of citizenship – and the consequences of such forms of resistance and struggle. In this regard, I emphasize how irregularity entails regulatory and resistive elements, which accentuates the messiness that defines (non)citizenship and the experiences of precarious status noncitizens. Through the lens of irregularity, this paper draws further attention to how the healthcare rights and entitlements of refugee claimants within Canada are circumvented by way of (re)constructing a non-juridical status at both national and local scales.
The rights and overall wellbeing of refugee claimants are also challenged outside of the healthcare sector. Refugee claimants face barriers to affordable, long-term shelter (Kissoon, 2013; Rider, 2018), and female refugee claimants navigate a system that often does not recognize their genuine fear of domestic abuse (Bhuyan, Vargas & Pintin-Perez, 2016). Furthermore, Canada continues to differentiate asylum claims based upon country of origin, while Canadian citizenship is increasingly being rendered a ‘conditional privilege,’ leading to ‘citizenship stripping’ and de facto statelessness (Stasiulis, 2017, pp. 2-3). Coming to terms with irregularity within this context will allow scholars and activists to critically confront the naturalness with which the virtuousness of citizenship is portrayed, and the barriers to justice and equity that it upholds.”
Research at a Glance is designed to inform the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) community and other interested parties about recently published, policy-relevant research from government, academic and NGO sources. The views expressed in the documents described do not necessarily reflect those of IRCC.