CORNWALL, ON -- Shirley Ravary doesn't just cough when she catches a cold.
And after suffering a partial lung collapse a few years ago, a common cold doesn't just 'go away' after a few days for the 57-year-old Ontario woman; it gets progressively worse.
So after two weeks of suffering with flu-like symptoms, Ravary needed to see her family doctor. But as she soon found out, she picked the wrong day to drop in for a check-up.
That day, Ravary contacted her doctor's office and was told to visit a nearby community health centre, where he occasionally works.
When she arrived at the centre, she was greeted by a French-speaking receptionist who promptly informed her that the health clinic was exclusively for "French people."
"I said to her, 'that's discrimination,'" said Ravary, who was then told to visit her family doctor during his regular office hours, or visit another walk-in clinic. "I didn't get past the reception at the front."
Worse yet, nobody at the clinic even asked her whether her condition required immediate attention.
"It could have been chest pains," said Ravary. "It could have been anything."
Marc Bisson, the Executive Director of the Centre de Santé communautaire de L'estrie, where Ravary was refused service, defends his clinic's policy. Bisson says it's part of the centre's mandate to target the local French population.
"I don't think it's discrimination at all," said Bisson. "We have policies and a way to work here. Ninety-eight per cent of our clients are Francophone because it's our target population."
The clinic was established 15 years ago specifically to treat the nearly 10,000 Francophones in the small Ontario community, although everyone in the greater community helps fund it.
It turns out the Ontario provincial government agrees with the clinic's exclusive policy.
George Smitherman, Ontario's Health Minister, said in Toronto Tuesday, "We have something called Community Health Centres and they are designed to be community governed, targeting specific populations."
So the next time Ravary feels sick, she'll need to find another clinic for treatment.
Or learn French.
This is something that Tony Clement, our new health minister, should be pouncing on. This is a clear violation of the Canada Health Act. One of the tenets of the act is that every Canadian has the right to medical care. By denying her medical care, the clinic not only engaged in gross discrimination, they clearly violated the Canada Health Act.
Clement should come down on this disgusting liberal policy of discrimination like a metric ton of bricks.