Reinstating Access to Health Care for Refugee Claimants
Ontario Filling Federal Funding Gap with Temporary Health Program
December 9, 2013 11:00 a.m.
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Ontario is joining other provinces by reinstating access to essential and urgent health care for refugee claimants through the new Ontario Temporary Health Program, and will send the federal government the bill to pay for the program.
Last year, the federal government abdicated its responsibility to provide basic care for many refugee claimants by changing the refugee application process in Canada and cutting the Interim Federal Health Program.
Through the temporary provincial program, refugee claimants who are not eligible for health care under the new federal rules or through other government programs will be able to access most primary care and urgent hospital services, as well as medication coverage. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the program will help reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and stress on health providers by providing vulnerable refugee claimants with basic health care services as soon as a health issue surfaces.
Providing the right care, at the right time and in the right place is part of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care. This initiative supports Ontario government’s economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.
Ontario is joining Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Quebec by taking steps to address gaps in health coverage for refugee claimants.
Approximately 48,900 or 55 per cent of all refugee claimants in Canada live in Ontario, with the majority in Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa areas.
Refugee claimants tend to have poorer health outcomes and are less likely to have planned their arrival to Canada or to have the financial resources to purchase health insurance privately.
As of result of the federal government’s cuts to its health care refugee program, more than 30 per cent of Ontario’s refugee claimants are without health coverage beyond public health and public safety coverage.