Sudden Arrival of Afghan Refugees Prompts Emergency Response
KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ONTARIO (May 19,2023): The sudden announcement by the federal government of the arrival of Afghan refugees by charter to Toronto and then 45-50 of them being sent to our community this coming Friday, in addition to the 90 who have arrived over the past three months, has prompted an emergency response.
A group of KW4 OHT community health providers, including Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre/Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre, Centre for Family Medicine, Grand River Hospital, and St. Mary’s General Hospital, have come together for an immediate medical response Monday to Friday next week on-site at the Best Western Hotel where many have been staying with the support of Reception House. “These refugees are coming in with trauma, medical complexity, chronic conditions and acute needs, and our community has no primary care attachment available to support them,” said Tara Groves-Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, of Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre/Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre. “As such, they end up in our Emergency Departments where they wait upwards of 10 hours, and due to language and cultural barriers, often leave with their needs not having been met.”
“As one of the largest refugee health centres in Canada, we must call attention to this growing and urgent issue in our community: without additional resources, it will only worsen given our 200% plus projected growth in our newcomer and refugee population in Kitchener-Waterloo over the next 5 years,” said Tara Groves-Taylor. “We already provide services to over 6000 patients, and clients represent 84 countries of origin and more than 55 different first languages. We urgently need more resources and call on governments at all levels to provide us with additional funding to address this growing emergency.”
About Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre/Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre
The Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre/Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre recently integrated as one organization (Community Healthcaring Kitchener-Waterloo as of June 12, 2023) to provide patient-centred, evidence-based healthcare for all individuals facing barriers to access, including newcomers, refugees, people experiencing homelessness and precarious housing, low income and who are challenged by other social determinants of health in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. For a full listing of all of our services, please refer to our websites at kdchc.org and sanctuaryrefugee.ca