On March 22, CanAge co-signed a letter written to ON Health Minister Christine Elliott in support of Krishan Kukreja, a 96-year-old man with dementia who is nearing end-of-life but is unable to access a long-term care bed because he does not have an OHIP number.
Mr. Kukreja’s case is tragic and unacceptable but, unfortunately, not unheard of.
We will continue to advocate tirelessly for all seniors to have the care they need, when they need it, in order to live their lives with dignity and respect.
Full text of the letter follows:
The Honourable Christine Elliott, M.P.P.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
5th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
Re: Mr. Krishan Kukreja
We are writing in response to recent news reports about Mr. Krishan Kukreja, a 96-year-old man with dementia who is nearing end-of-life but is unable to access a long-term care bed at Providence Care in Kingston because he does not have an OHIP number.
Mr. Kukreja has only weeks or months to live. As such, we are writing to encourage you to quickly exercise your ministerial discretionary power to grant him an OHIP number on compassionate grounds. In our respectful view, using your ministerial authority in this case is consistent withCanada’s commitment to upholding the human dignity of every person.
It would also fulfill the vision of Canada’s national dementia strategy, which aims to make our country a place in which all people with dementia and their caregivers are valued and supported, and their quality of life optimized. This extends to non-residents like Mr. Kukreja.
As reported by CBC News and the Kingston Whig-Standard, Mr. Kukreja moved to Canada from India in 2016 on a super visa, which as you know is a program that lets parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents stay in Canada for up to two years. His visa has been renewed and is currently valid until March 2023, on the condition that he has private health insurance. His family has paid about $11,000 a year for this coverage.
In November 2021, Mr. Kukreja was admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with dementia. His private insurance largely paid for his 10-day hospital stay, but it does not provide continuing coverage for his ongoing needs.
Because Mr. Kukreja is in Canada under a temporary visa and does not have permanent residency, he does not have an OHIP card. The bill for a recent hospital stay is at $49,000. For non-residents, the hospital charges in-patients$4,500 per night and $897.50 per emergency department visit. Mr. Kukreja’s daughter, Reena, is applying for a homeowner’s line of credit to help pay for his hospital stay. She estimates theeventual cost to be at least $150,000.
Mr. Kukreja’s medical doctors say he needs long-term care. “He’s become aggressive. He’s showingextreme paranoia, and it’s dangerous for him to be kept at home,” says Reena. Providence Care is prepared to care for him, but without an OHIP card, he is ineligible for long-term care and therefore cannot be admitted to the home.
As you know, under section 1.4 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, OHIP coverage is available to non-residents who, inter alia:
- have submitted an application for permanent residence in Canada, even if the application hasnot yet been approved;
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that the person meets theeligibility requirements to apply for permanent residency; and
- the application has not been denied.
Reena has applied to sponsor her father for permanent residency; however, IRCC has not yet invitedhim to apply. As such, he remains ineligible for OHIP, and thus long-term care.
In this case, time is of the essence. Mr. Kukreja is nearing end-of-life. By using your discretionary power as Health Minister to grant him an OHIP number, you can remove the barrier that is blocking his access to long-term care. Your compassionate decision will help ensure he receives the dignified care he needs in his final stages of life.
Thank you for your consideration.
Heather Campbell Pope, LLB, LLM
Founder & Principal Advocate
Dementia Justice Canada
Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos
Associate Teaching Professor
Faculty of Social Science and Humanities
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Laura Tamblyn Watts, LLB
The Hon. Doug Ford, M.P.P., Premier of Ontario
The Hon. Paul Calandra, M.P.P., Minister of Long-Term Care
The Hon. Raymond Cho, M.P.P., Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Ian Arthur, M.P.P. for Kingston and the Islands
Andrea Horwath, M.P.P., Leader of the Official Opposition
France Gélinas, M.P.P., Opposition Critic for Health
Sara Singh, M.P.P., Opposition Critic for Seniors and Long-Term Care
Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
John Fraser, M.P.P., Liberal Critic for Health, Seniors, and Long-Term Care
Dr. Catherine Zahn, Deputy Minister of Health
Cathy Szabo, President & CEO, Providence Care