Bills adding up for Kelowna international student beaten in suspected racist attack | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bills adding up for Kelowna international student beaten in suspected racist attack

An ambulance arrives at the Kelowna General Hospital ER.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/KGH Foundation

Despite assurances that he would not be charged for emergency room services, Gagandeep Singh, has been billed between $2,000 and $3,000.

Singh was attacked and beaten on March 17 after leaving a Kelowna transit bus in what the RCMP are investigating as a possible hate crime.

READ MORE: RCMP hate crime unit consulted in Kelowna bus stop assault

He went to the emergency room at Kelowna General Hospital that night but because he wouldn't be able to afford his treatment, his friend Aman Hundal told

He and Adam Wilson started an online fundraising campaign to collect money to help Singh after the attack but have now closed it since more than $22,000 was quickly contributed.

Singh is an international student who has been in Kelowna for more than a year but never applied for MSP coverage, even though the province requires it from all international students who will be in B.C. for more than six months.

“I think it was just a matter of cost,” Hundal said. “Coming from a third world country, it’s a big expense. The international students pay, I think, three times the tuition that locals pay and I understand why that is. But, coming from a third world country and then paying that much more – I think one looks at it and says: ‘$75, can I save that.’”

While MSP coverage is free for B.C. residents, international students have to pay $75 per month.

Shorty after the attack, Kelowna Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick got involved and told Singh’s supporters that he would do what he could about the bills.

He called Interior Health CEO Susan Brown and Health Minister Adrian Dix and he says both assured him that Singh’s medical bills would be waived.

After hearing this from Letnick, Singh went back to KGH. He had X-rays taken of his knee and was told it was fine, Hundal said. Singh was called in the following Thursday and told a fracture to his knee cap had been found after further study of the X-ray.

Hundal doesn’t know if the bill Sing received was for one or all three of the visits.

Letnick said he was surprised when informed him Singh had been billed.

“Both Susan Brown and the minister said he should return back to emergency if he required the service and he did not have to worry about any financial implications or charges,” Letnick told “It was very clear that, if a bill was issued, everything would be taken care of.

“It’s not the first time that somebody has received a bill that I would have to advocate for. I’m disappointed he got the bill but, if he shares the bill with me, I’ll make sure that commitments are kept.”

It’s unclear, however, whether anyone can actually waive such bills for people without coverage and, if so, under what provisions.

Anyone who applies for MSP has to undergo a waiting period of up to three months (the remaining part of the month when the application was filed then two more months after that).

“While a process is in place to review appeals from persons who have received, or will require, health care services during the wait period, waivers are only approved in the most extenuating circumstances,” an email from the Ministry of Health to states. “It is recommended that new or returning residents arriving from outside Canada contact a private insurance company for coverage during their wait period.”

But Singh was not in a waiting period for coverage when he was attacked, since he never applied.

“People are not turned away due to their inability to pay if they do not have MSP or private insurance,” Interior Health said in an email to “If it is determined there is no coverage, the patient is deemed as ‘self pay’ and they would receive a bill for the services provided after they leave. There are no exemptions, however, there are specific instances when patients may be successful working with MSP to backdate claims.”

Hundal suspects the bills were sent to Singh in error and is waiting to see if more come in before dealing with them.

Singh has now applied for his MSP coverage but will still have a three-month wait period. He will be having more treatment as early as next week.

“He’s in a lot of pain,” Hundal said. “But he’s going though his journey. He’s recovering.”

There is no word yet on whether charges will be laid in for the attack.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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