Health Associations Urge Government to Reconsider Cuts to Refugee Health Program


CDA and 7 other national health organizations spoke with one voice to ask Jason Kenny, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to revise or rescind the planned cancellation of supplemental health benefits to refugee claimants under the Interim Federal Health Plan (IFHP).

As of June 30, certain categories of refugee claimants will only be entitled to receive care considered “urgent and essential” or needed to protect public health. Dental, vision and prescription coverage will no longer be provided to refugees.

The IFHP is designed to ensure health standards for a temporary period of time for refugee claimants, who often have no other means of obtaining necessary health benefits for themselves or their families.The federal government says that the cuts to the IFHP will result in annual savings of $20 million.

“We understand that they’re cutting in order to save money. But surely the can save somewhere else, not at the price of somebody’s health,” says Dr. Robert Sutherland, CDA president.

The Canadian health associations sent the minister a letter on May 18, emphasizing how a lack of preventive care for refugee claimants will result in an increased number of hospitalizations and medications. The absence of a grandfathering provision will also mean that “refugees with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, will seek care in hospitals and through emergency departments—one of the most costly forms of care.”

CDA hopes that the collective efforts of its fellow health organizations will lead to exploring new ways to deliver health services to refugees, rather than cancelling much needed supplemental benefits.

Read the associations’ letter to Jason Kenney (May 18, 2012)

Read the reply from a department official (June 21, 2012)

Notice to service providers from Medavie Blue Cross on the IFHP

Additional information on changes to the IFHP