Call for Immediate Reinstatement of Health Insurance for Manitoba Students from Abroad After Family Receives $500K+ Bill from Shared Health

March 14, 2022

Treaty 1 - Homeland, Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals are once again calling for the PCs to reinstate health insurance for students in Manitoba from abroad after a family is facing a bill for over $500,000 after Tevin Obiga, a fourth-year University of Manitoba student from Kenya, died after contracting an infectious fungus, blastomycosis, that can be found in the soil in parts of Manitoba and Northwest Ontario.

On the weekend, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont and Health Critic Dr. Jon Gerrard met with the family and community. Tevin's mother and aunt travelled to Canada from Kenya and the UK, and were able to see Tevin before he died.

In 2018, the PCs eliminated health insurance for students who come from outside Canada to study in Manitoba - a program that only cost about $3.1-milllion. That's why the Obiga family are now facing a bill totalling $550,296.17 from Shared Health.

  • $517,764 for St. Boniface Hospital
  • $1,405.55 Victoria Hospital
  • $28,254.00 Grace Hospital
  • $2,872.52 is from Doctor's appointment/treatment.

Manitoba Liberals say the fee for this and other international students facing medical bills should be waived, and are asking the PCs to immediately reinstate health insurance in honour of Tevin Obiga's memory.

"What does this say to the world about the way the PC Government treats people who want to come to Manitoba to build a life here?" said Lamont. "We are asking for these medical fees to be waived, and for the health insurance program for Manitoba Students from abroad immediately reinstated in honour of Tevin Obiga,"

International students at Manitoba's post-secondary institutions are the single biggest pool of future immigrants in Manitoba's provincial nominee program. They contribute significantly to Manitoba's economy through higher tuition, rent, and by working and paying taxes.

When the PCs cut their health insurance, students from around the world who study in Manitoba suddenly faced an extra cost just to see a doctor or for mental health treatments, and many have found themselves with bills in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many could not travel during the pandemic.

Dr. Gerrard said the case was especially tragic because blastomycosis is treatable.

Lamont and Gerrard both heard from community members that students may be reluctant to go to the doctor for fear of incurring a bill for thousands of dollars. As a result, both mental and physical health risks going untreated.

"The sooner you catch a problem, the easier it is to treat it," said Gerrard. "Other provinces and other countries recognize welcome students from abroad with health coverage, because that's the right, smart and humane thing to do. The PCs need to step up."



View More News

Unite Interactive