BROSSARD – When Liang Zhong and her husband, Jason Lizotte, found out they were expecting their first child, they began searching for a bigger home to accommodate their growing family.
But recently, their search was put on hold when they received unexpected news.
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“We found out she wouldn’t be eligible for health care about six, seven weeks ago,” Lizotte said.
“We were informed that when you renew your RAMQ [health insurance], you wait for your renewal papers — but we never got them. So, we called and they told us she’s not eligible for RAMQ anymore.”
Zhong, originally from China, met Lizotte while studying in Ontario.
After they finished studying, Zhong applied for a post-graduate open work permit.
The couple married and moved to Quebec in 2014, when Zhong was issued a medicare card by the province’s health agency, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).
Last summer, Zhong applied for permanent residency and another open work permit.
She received the permit to continue working, but it’s a different class to the one she held previously.
The card expired and RAMQ says it won’t let her renew it because she isn’t eligible with her new visa.
“I was so shocked,” said Zhong.
“I really don’t know what to do. Because I’m pregnant, I need to get coverage for me and my baby.”
While it wouldn’t comment on the case specifically, RAMQ told Global News in an email that Canadian work permits aren’t equal when it comes to health care.
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A spokesperson wrote, “not all work permits are recognized for the purpose of eligibility for the health insurance plan in Quebec.”
Patients’ rights advocate Paul Brunet said the province needs to have some compassion.
“This person is not a criminal, this person is not on the midst of being expulsed,” he said.
“She’s a good person, respectful of laws in Quebec and in Canada and like a lot of other people coming from all over the world, has gotten a permit to work, how about treating her according to her situation?”
The couple said they’ve brought the issue to their local MNA, who also happens to be Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.
“At this point in time, I don’t know anything about the situation and I will not comment on a theoretical … question,” he said.
In the meantime, Zhong and her husband said they’ll keep fighting for the care she requires.