Shalom Life | August 10, 2014

Ontario Will Not Bring Wounded Israeli, Palestinian Children to Canada After All

Ottawa nixes idea announced by Health Minister Eric Hoskins

By: Daniel Koren

Published: August 8th, 2014 in Health » World

Ontario Will Not Bring Wounded Israeli, Palestinian Children to Canada After All

Earlier this week, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced that Ontario was willing to take in seriously wounded children from Gaza and Israel, if they could make it to Canada for treatment.

Hoskins stated that Israeli and Palestinian authorities indicated they were willing to cooperate with the effort. Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters on Tuesday, “Children who are suffering on either side of the conflict, we want to do what we can to help them.”

Five Ontario hospitals including Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children offered to treat the kids. To help the victims, some medical staff had even offered to work for free.

However, now it seems that the notion will not likely come to pass.

New reports indicate that Ottawa is not entirely keen on the idea of bringing injured children from the Middle East to Ontario for treatment, as it could be dangerous for local residents.

On Thursday, Adam Hodge, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that, it was a wonderful gesture, but that it is far more practical to bring Canadian doctors and medical expenses to the children, not the other way around.

“We applaud the humanitarian instincts of those who want to assist victims of Hamas, and we are focused on ensuring that those humanitarian instincts achieve the greatest impact,” said Hodge.

“Those who want their support to have the greatest impact must recognize the importance of ensuring innocent victims receive the medical support they need close to their families and loved ones, and that includes avoiding the medical risks and dangers of being transported overseas,” he added.

Hoskins had admitted bringing Gazan children to Canada would be a complicated endeavor, not to mention figuring out which children would be eligible for treatment. He went on to explain that the initiative came after Toronto-based doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost three of his daughters in 2009 to a similar conflict, made a formal request “to make the necessary resources available to allow our hospitals to treat these children in Ontario provided that a number of logistical hurdles be cleared by the federal government and other relevant parties.”

Hoskins said that this would "include arranging for exit visas, and the security clearance of any adults travelling with each child. It has been our goal from the beginning to identify kids who have specific and complex medical needs that cannot be met where they live.”

Ottawa is currently looking at other ways “on how best to deploy Canadian medical expertise, financing and matériel to support victims of Hamas on the ground, and create sustainable medical solutions in the region.”

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