Kingston, Ont. woman fighting for palliative care for father who is ineligible for OHIP
A Kingston woman says her father, who was embraced by Canada, is now falling through the cracks of the medical system.
Reena Kukreja’s father is here on a special visa and doesn’t qualify for an OHIP number, which she says is preventing him from getting the type of care he needs.
“We cannot do anything for him that would allow him to die with dignity. It’s hard,” Kukreja says. “I’m just so sad for my father because he embraced Canada so beautifully.”
Krishnan Kukreja, 96, immigrated to Canada in 2016. He came to Canada on a super visa, which reunites parents with their first-generation immigrant children, but this does not entitle him to OHIP coverage.
Last year, he was diagnosed with rapidly progressing dementia after contracting an infection.
“I don’t want to milk the system. I just want compassion for a man to die with dignity. That’s all I ask,” his daughter says.
He is now in hospital. His daughter says he needs to be in a long-term care home that can provide him with palliative care, but can’t be because of his immigration status.
“The long-term care facilities have said our hands are tied. We cannot do anything,” Kukreja says.
She has asked the Ministry of Health for OHIP coverage for her father on compassionate grounds, but has been turned down.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the health minister’s office says, “Eligibility for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is determined solely by the requirements set out in Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act (HIA). The HIA provides no discretion to provide eligibility for Ontario health coverage to persons not defined as eligible under the HIA for any reason, including compassionate grounds.”
Kukreja says doctors have told her that her father only has a few months left to live. She says he needs a different type of care and has even offered to pay out of pocket, but she can’t get him into a long-term care home without an OHIP number.
“What do I do with my father? I’m now reduced to making a death wish for him every day. I’m just saying, ‘Dad, it might be better if you die sooner rather than later,’ because really there’s no option for him anymore,” she says.
Kukreja says her father cannot return to India in his condition and says she’s speaking out in the hopes that something can be done for families like hers.
“On one level, Canada wants to welcome immigrants to make its economy strong. On the other hand, it sees certain groups of people as totally disposable. What do we do with our loved ones that loved us, that reared us, and made us the people we are should we just dump them now?”