Photo of Owen Pallett by Heidi Slimane from his MySpace.
News of Owen Pallett’s OHIP being revoked has been quickly met with a reaction: an open letter sent today to George Smitherman, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, from France Gélinas and Rosario Marchese, NDP MPPs who insist that Pallett is “an award winning artist who deserves our support” but who has instead been “unfairly treated.”
The letter takes issue both with the merits and quickness of the decision to revoke Pallett’s coverage based on his not being “physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period.” The letter points to an exemption from the 153 day requirement “on the basis of [Pallett] being absent from Ontario for employment purposes.” “This exemption,” the letter asserts, “should have been more thoroughly explored before Owen’s OHIP was abruptly revoked.”
The letter concludes that “The right to public health care is a value cherished by Ontarians,” that “the public should never fear that their access to health care can so easily be revoked,” and that “Owen deserves to have his OHIP coverage immediately reinstated.”
The entirety of the letter follows the jump.
Honourable George Smitherman
February 26, 2008
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor St.
Toronto, ON M7A 2C4
I am writing to urge your immediate intervention to help Owen Pallett, a Toronto-based musician who was recently denied OHIP coverage. Owen, also known as “Final Fantasy,” is an award winning artist who deserves our support. Instead, he was unfairly treated by your Ministry. Please find attached a package outlining his concerns.
Owen is an Ontario resident who frequently travels to perform for audiences not only in Canada but worldwide. When Owen went to renew his expired OHIP card, his coverage was immediately revoked on the basis that he was outside the province for a period more than 153 days. This determination was made simply on the basis of a brief conversation.
Minister, such swift actions are both inappropriate, unnecessary and violate the Health Insurance Act. No Ontarian should see his or her OHIP coverage summarily revoked. Instead, all Ministry officials should work with the public to ensure that all applications are properly processed.
I understand that according to the Health Insurance Act, Regulation 552, Section 1.1 (3) 1, Owen would be considered exempt from the 153 day requirement on the basis of him being absent from Ontario for employment purposes. This exemption should have been more thoroughly explored before Owen’s OHIP was abruptly revoked.
Minister, your assistance is required. The right to public health care is a value cherished by Ontarians. The public should never fear that their access to health care can so easily be revoked. Owen deserves to have his OHIP coverage immediately reinstated.
I look forward to hearing from your office.
(Original signed by …)
France Gélinas Rosario Marchese
NDP Critic for Health and Long-Term Care Trinity-Spadina MPP
cc: Owen Pallett