Government to restore health care for refugees

by Paul Lucas26 Feb 2016
Health care coverage for asylum claimants and refugees will be restored to pre-2012 levels starting from April.

That is the decision of the Liberal government as it outlined plans to expand its Interim Federal Health Program. In a move that has widely been deemed a surprise, it will now include coverage for refugees before they arrive.

From April next year, overseas refugees that wish to enter the country will pick up coverage for their vaccinations prior to departure, as well as their immigrant medical examinations and services meant to manage the outbreak of disease within refugee camps.

As it stands the program has a $51 million budget every year – the additional measures are set to cost $12.5 million, keeping overall costs within that line.

The zero-net addition has caused some skepticism, however. Aaron Wudrick, from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, commented that Canada must be careful not to appear “overly generous”, especially during a period when many Canadians are struggling.

The move however, will “not have an impact” on the private health insurance industry, according to Wendy Hope of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. The announcement means asylum seekers and refugees will be able to enjoy basic health care, similar to that offered by provincial health care insurance, as well as additional services like prescription drugs and urgent dental care.

What do you make of the decision? Should in-coming refugees have the same health care coverage as ordinary Canadians? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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