Fredericton — When the New Brunswick departments of health and education announced that the province will extend Medicare coverage to international students, many residents were thrilled.
“This is great news — it’ll attract so many talented people to New Brunswick,” said UNB economics professor Richard Myers. “Anything to make us more appealing to a diverse population is a good move in my books.”
“It’s a demonstration that New Brunswickers are open-minded, welcoming, and understand how these policies can help not only international students, but them as well,” said Aparna Shan, 21, who moved from India to study medicine. “For me all aspects of relocation have been a struggle, and this is one less thing to worry about. I am quite athletic and have no existing health problems so hopefully I will never need to use these services, but it makes me feel like an equal, as though I really belong here.”
Many other New Brunswickers, however, including northsider Mack Billings, are as usual livid about anything that could impact tax spending.
We met up with Billings at the Tim Hortons on Union Street, where he sits motionless for most of the day.
“My tax dollars shouldn’t be paying for all these 20-year-old foreigners who want free health care!” exclaimed the obese 50-year-old, slurping his triple-triple and letting it trickle down his chin. “Who knows what diseases they got?! Meanwhile I can’t even afford a ride over town for my diabetes checkup!”
Billings then hobbled outside to have a smoke with his friend Gerry Kasper, who unsurprisingly had similar views.
“I don’t know what Medicare is exactly but I do know I don’t want all these leeches coming over here and taking it from me!” said Kasper, reaching in his pocket to fetch some Slim Jims he bought at the Circle K for lunch. “Next thing ya know they’ll be taking my job. I don’t have one but it’s the principle of the matter, ya see.”
Medicare, according to the New Brunswick Medical Society, covers visits to a family doctor and specialists, necessary medical procedures, hospital stays, and drugs administered in hospital. It does not cover things like the cost of prescription drugs, ambulance services, vision and dental care.
Most students, international or not, are young and relatively healthy, and attracting them to live and work in New Brunswick will benefit the economy more than harm it, our reporter cautiously suggested.
“Pfft! That’s Liberal hogwash! Who told ya that — Gallant or Tru-dumb? Time to vote these morons out!” hollered Billings, who had by this time gone back inside to order his late-afternoon Chocolate Glazed donut and extra-large Iced Capp with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.
“These people are nothing but a drain on our health care system!”
Kasper concurred, stating that it’s nothing but bleeding-heart Liberalism that leads to these poor financial decisions on the government’s part, even though Kasper receives monthly financial assistance from that very government because he’s “too sick to work.”
“I got this gout, see, in my foot? No sure sign of what caused it, but I tell ya it’s a relief knowing I can get medical care at the drop of a hat. But no, I don’t think these immigrants should get the same privileges. Health care’s not a bloody human right, for chrissakes!
“If they wanted health care so bad,” he added, lighting yet another cigarette and coughing up a huge lob of phlegm, “they shoulda thought of that before they moved here.”