Essential Health Care for Refugees

Essential Health Care for Refugees

Ontario Calls on the Federal Government to Provide Essential Health Care: Ontario is calling on the federal government to be fair and compassionate by fully supporting essential and urgent health care needs for all refugee claimants.

Two years ago, the federal government reduced its assistance of basic health care to refugee claimants by cutting the Interim Federal Health Program. This put the health of some of the most vulnerable in society at risk – in particular pregnant women and children.

To avoid unnecessary and costly visits to emergency rooms, the province created the Ontario Temporary Health Program to provide coverage for most primary care and urgent hospital services, as well as medication coverage to refugee claimants. For the past six months the program has filled the federal funding gap by allowing more than 270 vulnerable refugee claimants access to basic health care services.

Providing fairness to refugee claimants is part of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario has invested approximately $565,000 in the Ontario Temporary Health Program since it was introduced on Jan. 1, 2014 as an emergency measure to relieve pressure on health care providers.
  • On July 4, 2014 the Federal Court of Canada found that the federal government’s decision to cut the Interim Federal Health Program was “cruel and unusual” to affected individuals and violated parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Refugee claimants tend to have poorer health outcomes than other Ontarians because they are less likely to have planned their arrival to the province or have the money to purchase health insurance privately.
  • Over 33,800 or 46% of all refugee claimants in Canada live in Ontario, with the majority in Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa areas.

July 23, 2014, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care


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