Restoring Fairness to the Interim Federal Health Program

 In Health

February 18, 2016—Ottawa, ON – All refugees and asylum claimants will soon benefit from full health-care coverage through a restored Interim Federal Health Program, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, announced today.

Starting April 1, 2016, the Interim Federal Health Program will provide health-care coverage for all eligible beneficiaries – including basic, supplemental, and prescription drug coverage. Similar to provincial/territorial health-care insurance, the coverage will include hospital and physician services. Coverage for supplemental health-care services, such as vision and urgent dental care, and for prescription drugs, will be similar to what the provinces and territories provide to Canadians who receive social assistance.

By April 1, 2017, the Interim Federal Health Program will expand to cover certain services for refugees who have been identified for resettlement before they come to Canada. These services will include: coverage of the immigration medical examination, pre-departure vaccinations, services to manage disease outbreaks in refugee camps, and medical supports during travel to Canada.

These changes will improve the health outcomes of refugees and asylum claimants, while also protecting public health for all Canadians. Restoring the Interim Federal Health Program will also provide financial relief to Canadians who privately sponsor refugees, reduce the administrative burden faced by health-care professionals serving refugees, and ease health-care funding pressure on provincial and territorial governments.

“Canadians from many walks of life, from premiers to front-line health-care professionals to Canadians who privately sponsor refugees, spoke with one voice in rejecting the changes made to the Interim Federal Health Program in 2012. We have listened, and coverage will be restored.”

Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Restoration of the Interim Federal Health Program is good news both from a public health perspective and an economic perspective. It’s the right thing to do. I am also pleased that in 2017, our Government will begin covering some services for resettled refugees before they depart for Canada. A robust program for refugee health care will improve health outcomes, protect public health for all Canadians and help provincial and territorial governments reduce longer-term health-care costs.”

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