Reform of the Interim Federal Health Program Ensures Fairness, Protects Public Health and Safety

A federal program that provides health-care benefits to protected persons, refugee
claimants and others is being reformed to ensure fairness for
Canadian taxpayers while emphasizing the need to protect public
health and safety, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“Our Government’s objective is to bring about transformational
changes to our immigration system so that it meets Canada’s economic
needs. Canadians are a very generous people and Canada has a generous
immigration system,” said Minister Kenney. “However, we do not want
to ask Canadians to pay for benefits for protected persons and
refugee claimants that are more generous than what they are entitled
to themselves.”

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides temporary
health-care coverage to eligible protected persons, refugee claimants
and others who do not qualify for provincial or territorial health
insurance plans. With the current benefit coverage, the cost of the
IFHP grew to $84.6 million in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

The current IFHP provides basic health-care coverage, similar to what
is provided through a provincial or territorial health insurance
plan, as well as coverage for supplemental health-care services,
including pharmaceutical care, dentistry, vision care and mobility
assistive devices. Most Canadians, however, do not have access to
government-funded supplemental health care.

The reformed program will end the coverage of supplemental
health-care benefits. Medication and immunization may be provided in
cases where there is a risk to public health or public safety. The
program will provide health-care coverage for services and products
of an urgent or essential nature for many IFHP beneficiaries. For
more detailed information on the changes, please visit CIC’s website.

After the changes are implemented, cost savings are projected to be
about $100 million over the next five years.

“With this reform, we are also taking away an incentive from people
who may be considering filing an unfounded refugee claim in Canada,”
the Minister added. “These reforms allow us to protect public health
and safety, ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely and defend the
integrity of our immigration system all at the same time.”

The changes will take effect on June 30, 2012, and will apply to all
current beneficiaries, as well as those who apply after that date.