News Release – Reform of the Interim Federal Health Program ensures fairness, protects public health and safety

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Ottawa, April 25, 2012 — A federal program that provides health-care benefits to protected persons, refugee claimants and others is being reformed to ensure fairness for Canadian taxpayers while emphasizing the need to protect public health and safety, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“Our Government’s objective is to bring about transformational changes to our immigration system so that it meets Canada's economic needs. Canadians are a very generous people and Canada has a generous immigration system,” said Minister Kenney. “However, we do not want to ask Canadians to pay for benefits for protected persons and refugee claimants that are more generous than what they are entitled to themselves.”

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides temporary health-care coverage to eligible protected persons, refugee claimants and others who do not qualify for provincial or territorial health insurance plans. With the current benefit coverage, the cost of the IFHP grew to $84.6 million in the 2010–2011 fiscal year.

The current IFHP provides basic health-care coverage, similar to what is provided through a provincial or territorial health insurance plan, as well as coverage for supplemental health-care services, including pharmaceutical care, dentistry, vision care and mobility assistive devices. Most Canadians, however, do not have access to government-funded supplemental health care.

The reformed program will end the coverage of supplemental health-care benefits. Medication and immunization may be provided in cases where there is a risk to public health or public safety. The program will provide health-care coverage for services and products of an urgent or essential nature for many IFHP beneficiaries. For more detailed information on the changes, please visit CIC’s website.

After the changes are implemented, cost savings are projected to be about $100 million over the next five years.

“With this reform, we are also taking away an incentive from people who may be considering filing an unfounded refugee claim in Canada,” the Minister added. “These reforms allow us to protect public health and safety, ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely and defend the integrity of our immigration system all at the same time.”

The changes will take effect on June 30, 2012, and will apply to all current beneficiaries, as well as those who apply after that date.

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Ana Curic
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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