Canada's divide with Saudi Arabia, could affect Canadian health care

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not backing down on Canada's criticism of the kingdom over the recent arrests of social activists.

He says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had a long conversation with her Saudi counterpart on Tuesday and Canada is continuing to engage directly with the Saudi government.

The diplomatic dispute began last week after Freeland tweeted concerns about news that several social activists had been arrested in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi, who has advocated for women's rights in her country.

On August 2nd, Freeland called for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi, and a day later, her department tweeted further criticism and called for the ``immediate release'' of Samar Badawi and all peaceful human rights activists.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador, suspended diplomatic relations and slammed the door to new trade with Canada.

Now, that country is recalling thousands of medical residents from Canadian hospitals, leaving the health care system in a bit of a lurch.

Institutions are still trying to prevent the departure, but admit, it's ultimately up to the higher levels of government to make that decision.

The residents are doctors-in-training who are here as part of an agreement between the two countries, that goes back nearly four decades.

Canada doesn't pay them, instead they are funded by the Saudi government who pays hospitals $100,000 a year to take them in.