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CBC NEWS: Dean Peroff on Consular Services


An Edmonton woman says she’s frustrated by the lack of assistance and miscommunication from the Canadian government, two weeks after her father ended up in a coma in a Turkish hospital.

On Feb. 14, Jasmine Mohamed received an email from Global Affairs Canada.


Dean Peroff, an international business attorney and co-founder of the Council to Protect Canadians Abroad, said it’s important for Canadians traveling abroad to purchase insurance.

He said many Canadian travelers assume they will receive the same health-care coverage they would get in Canada, “and those assumptions simply can’t be made.”

But he called the government’s reliance on privacy legislation to justify holding back information “overused” and a way “to avoid having to account to the public.”

“There’s such a lack of transparency on the part of consular affairs when it comes to dealing with inquiries, either from family members or members of the public including reporters,” he said.

Michael Welsh, former director general of consular operations at Global Affairs Canada, told CBC News in an email that the “fear of being sued by an unhappy client” is another factor at play, as families such as the Mohameds try to access federal assistance overseas.

He said it leads consular staff “to put our services into passive form: handing out lists of doctors, lawyers, police, translators, airlines, etc. and telling the client it’s up to them to decide what to do.”