Protests continue fight for refugee healthcare

In late April 2012, the federal government announced a series of sweeping changes to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/outside/arriving-healthcare.asp), the health insurance program for refugees in Canada. The changes came into effect on June 30, 2012.

Previously the IFH program provided access to medical care, diagnostic services and laboratory testing that is very similar to what is provided by provincial health plans. It also provided access to medications, emergency dental care and vision care that is similar to what is available to people on provincial social assistance plans.

Since this announcement, doctors, healthcare workers, refugees and refugee advocates across the country have been protesting the cuts to refugee healthcare. On June 29, the federal government announced that the government-sponsored refugees would continue to receive “comprehensive” health care coverage and they will not lose coverage for drugs they need. Protests and actions continue across the country as the government still refuses to rescind on the cuts and provide health care for all refugees including refugees who claim refugee status when they arrive in Canada and refugees whose claims have been accepted.