2.C Settlement and Integration
C.4 What post-arrival supports are available beyond those provided by sponsors?
(iii) What are the conditions to access other support services?
How Canada Does It
As permanent residents, refugees have access to a wide range of services also available to other Canadians, including healthcare and education, as well as specialized supports refugees. Fees exist for some services, such as dental care and post-secondary education. In some cases, there may be waitlists to access services such as language training and trauma counselling. Refugees can also qualify for legal aid. They must meet financial eligibility criteria and their legal matter must be covered by the services provided by legal aid. Sponsoring groups are obligated to meet the basic needs of sponsored refugees and are not obligated to pay for other services not offered free of charge.
HEALTH CARE: The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides basic coverage to resettled refugees for a maximum of three months. This coverage serves as a bridge until provincial or territorial public health insurance plans come into effect. Supplemental and prescription drug coverage is provided for as long as the refugee is under government or private sponsorship, with initial coverage being issued for twelve months upon arrival. Coverage may be extended for an additional twelve months provided the refugee is receiving government or private sponsorship for the same period.
DENTAL CARE: Resettled refugees can access urgent dental care under the IFHP’s supplemental coverage. Dental care under the IFHP’s supplemental coverage includes emergency dental exams, x-rays, extractions, and dentures. Dentists also have mobilized across Canada to provide free services to refugees who cannot afford dental care – e.g. Canadian Dentists for Refugees.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION: Students attending post-secondary institutions in Canada generally pay tuition fees. However, there are a number of initiatives, scholarships, and bursaries to help qualified refugees access and afford post-secondary education. Some examples include:
- World University Services Canada, which uses Canada’s private sponsorship system to sponsor qualified refugee students to study in Canada; and
- In 2015, the National Association of Career Colleges offered $2 million worth of scholarships to cover the tuition of 200 Syrian refugees.
LEGAL AID: Legal aid programs provides legal services to low-income Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the areas of housing, social assistance, immigration, employment, criminal law, and human rights. Refugees’ income must be below established levels in order to qualify for free legal services. Refugees may be responsible for paying disbursement costs such as filing or application fees. Legal aid programs are provincially-funded.