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 this past week.
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. Urgent dental care is defined as emergency examinations, restorations, and extractions of severely affected teeth as well as x-rays, emergency prescriptions and anesthetics. This does not include procedures such as routine scaling, fluoride, orthodontics or dentures. Coverage 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. “Restoration of the Interim Federal Health Program is good news both from a public health, and economic perspective”, Jane Philpott Minister of Health said. 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.