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Health and dental care for refugees

Region: Ontario Answer # 675

Essential health care for refugee claimants in Canada is usually paid for by the Interim Federal Health Program, commonly referred to as IFHP. IFHP is administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). All IFHP beneficiaries are eligible for coverage from the date that the certificate of eligibility is issued by an IRCC or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer. Issues such as health and dental care for refugees are complex. To get help, ask a lawyer now.

Who is covered?

IFHP provides limited, temporary coverage of health care benefits for eligible groups of refugees who are not eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance.

To be eligible for the IFH Program, an individual must not be a Canadian citizen, and must belong to one of the following groups:

  • Resettled refugees (including certain people who are being resettled in Canada as a result of a public policy or humanitarian and compassionate considerations)
  • Protected Persons
  • Refugee claimants
  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Detainees (individuals detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act)

Types of coverage

All eligible refugees are entitled to the following types of coverage: basic, supplemental and prescription drug coverage.

1. Basic coverage

Basic coverage is similar to what Canadians receive through their provincial or territorial health insurance plans. Coverage includes:

  • in-patient and out-patient hospital services
  • services provided by medical doctors, registered nurses and other health care professionals licensed in Canada, including pre- and post-natal care
  • laboratory, diagnostic and ambulance services

2. Supplemental coverage

Supplemental coverage is similar to what provincial and territorial governments provide to Canadians receiving social assistance. Coverage includes:

  • limited dental and vision care
  • home care and long-term care
  • services provided by allied health care practitioners including clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, and physiotherapists
  • assistive devices, medical supplies and equipment, including:
    • orthopedic and prosthetic equipment
    • mobility aids
    • hearing aids
    • diabetic supplies
    • incontinence supplies
    • oxygen equipment

3. Prescription drug coverage

This coverage includes most prescription medications and other products listed in provincial and territorial public drug plans.

Immigration Medical Examination (IME)

Under the IFHP, the cost of one Immigration Medical Examination (IME) is also covered for the following categories of refugee claimants while their claim is being processed:

  • refugee claimants awaiting decision,
  • ineligible refugee claimants,
  • victims of human trafficking, and
  • detainees.

Medical services available to refugees before they come to Canada

As of April 1, 2017 the Interim Federal Health Program covers certain medical services for refugees who have been identified for resettlement before they come to Canada. These services include: coverage of the immigration medical examination, pre-departure vaccinations, services to manage disease outbreaks in refugee camps, and medical support during travel to Canada. IRCC visa offices determine who is eligible for these services. Visit the IRCC website for more information.

Application for the Interim Federal Health Program

In most cases, you don’t need to apply for Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage because your refugee status determines your eligibility, and your coverage will be activated or cancelled automatically. However, you may need to apply for Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage if you believe you’re eligible, but your claim was rejected.

Individuals who qualify can go online at IRCC to view the Application for IFHP Coverage including an instruction guide detailing how to complete the application and what documents must be included. Applicants can then download and complete the application, and submit it along with photocopies of the required documents, either online, or by mail, to IRCC.

How long does coverage last?

An individual’s immigration status will determine how long they will receive each type of coverage under the IFHP, although for most recipients coverage lasts until they become eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance, or until they leave Canada. In the case of resettled refugees, they will continue to be covered for supplemental services and prescription drugs after they have provincial or territorial health insurance for as long as they receive support from the government or private sponsors, which is usually one year. Visit IRCC for full details on who is included in each of the five groups of refugees, and the duration of each type of coverage available to them.

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

If found eligible to make a claim for Convention Refugee status, or other protected person, the individual can apply for a health card under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, referred to as OHIP. OHIP is an Ontario public health insurance plan provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Refugees can apply for OHIP by going to a ServiceOntario office. They must bring their immigration papers, proof of identity and proof that they live in Ontario. To prove identity, refugees can use a passport, and one other piece of identification. To show that they live in Ontario, refugees should bring documents such as telephone bills or bank statements because these documents show their name and address.

For more information, including the eligibility requirements and how to apply for OHIP, go to 695 Who and what are covered by OHIP? or visit ontario.ca.

Dental care

Currently, the IFHP provides coverage for limited dental services. If the dental services the individual requires are not provided, he or she should ask about other sources of dental care in the community. Some universities and colleges teach dentistry or dental hygiene and provide low-cost dental cleaning and dental work by supervised students. As well, some public health departments or community health centres offer limited dental services free of charge or at a low cost. For more information, contact a community health centre, or the Ontario Dental Association.

Get help

A criminal record will delay, and can even prevent you from getting your immigration status. To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

For legal advice and assistance, contact our preferred Immigration experts, Bright Immigration Consultants .

Issues such as health and dental care for refugees are complex. To get help, ask a lawyer now.

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