2.C Settlement and Integration
C.5 How are physical, mental, and dental health treated?
(i) What arrangements need to be made to enable access to physical, mental, and dental healthcare services for refugees?
How Canada Does It
As permanent residents, refugees may access provincially-funded healthcare. Sponsors should assist refugees in applying to provincial healthcare coverage, selecting a family physician and dentist, and connecting them to mental health and trauma counseling where necessary. While residents in some provinces must wait a certain period before receiving government health insurance, these wait periods are waived for refugees. Resettled refugees are also eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) immediately upon arrival to Canada. The IFHP provides limited and temporary healthcare coverage to address a variety of urgent and primary care needs.
Sponsors undertake in their Settlement Plan to assist refugees in applying for provincial health care coverage and accessing other necessary health services. Sponsors should assist refugees in seeking medical services covered under the IFHP coverage. Sponsors should be aware of any special health needs and research the available specialists to set up appointments once refugees arrive.
Resettled refugees who are IFHP eligible beneficiaries may access medical, mental, and dental healthcare services by finding an approved healthcare service provider. Only healthcare providers registered with Medavie Blue Cross are authorized to submit claims for reimbursement. IFHP Certificates are to be presented to healthcare providers each time a service and/or product is provided in order to confirm coverage. IFHP is not designed to reimburse beneficiaries or sponsors directly. If they pay for services/products covered by the IFHP, they cannot be reimbursed.
In extraordinary circumstances, efforts have been made by provinces and local authorities to ensure immediate access to healthcare for refugees upon arrival. Syrian refugees were assessed by officers when they arrived in Canada and referred for immediate care where required. In Ontario and Quebec, emergency medical teams were made available at airports. In some locations, community health centres set up clinics at hotels and offered initial screening to prioritize health issues. Local health authorities and provinces also organized transitional health services such as dental health clinics and catch-up vaccination programs.