By: Steven Tress
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Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program
As a cost-saving move, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program. Refugees, refugee claimants, victims of trafficking and others receive temporary coverage through the IFHP while either waiting for a decision from the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board or while waiting to qualify for provincial or territorial health coverage. Applicants must prove that they are unable to pay for services and do not have private health insurance.
CIC, which funds the IFHP, plans to cut supplemental health care benefits such as dental work, eyewear, and prescriptions while keeping intact basic care such as visits to the doctor’s office or the hospital. Medication and immunization, however, may be provided in order to prevent the spread of contagious illnesses. The changes take effect on June 30, 2012, and will apply to current and new beneficiaries as of that date.
There are several ways to qualify for the IFHP. Resettled refugees may currently receive coverage while waiting for provincial or territorial coverage for terms between 3 months to a year. The IFHP covers refugee claimants while claims are processed in the Refugee Protection Division and for up to three months after a favourable decision is reached. Detainees of the Canada Border Services Agency and victims of human trafficking are also covered, which may be up to a six-month term. Newborns share their mother’s coverage while waiting for provincial or territorial coverage. There are also special measures for certain classes of immigrants and foreign nationals. Coverage may be renewed in certain circumstances.