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.
Coverage starting April 1, 2016, will be the same for all individuals eligible for Interim Federal Health Program, replacing the six types of coverage that have been in place since November 2014.
Groups eligible for Interim Federal Health Program coverage include resettled refugees, other protected persons, asylum claimants, rejected claimants, immigration detainees, victims of human trafficking, and from time to time, other groups identified by the Minister. For example, Interim Federal Health Program coverage was extended to Haitians who were in Canada temporarily when a major earthquake struck Haiti in 2010.
Interim Federal Health Program coverage is temporary with coverage for most recipients ending when they become eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance, or when they leave Canada. Resettled refugees continue to be covered for supplemental services and prescription drugs after they have provincial/territorial health insurance for the period they are receiving support from the government or private sponsors, which is usually one year.