Canada’s health care system is one of the most generous in the world. It is also overburdened and abused by bogus asylum claimants from Europe and the US. Many have been rejected by our fair determination process, yet they refuse to return home. This drain on our economy has spurred the government to make some changes to the Interim Federal Health Program
Some doctors are reporting to the media that the changes are unethical and even dangerous. They are wrong. The government has made no changes to the Interim Federal Health coverage for treatments affecting public health and public safety. All people seeking refuge within our borders are still provided with a free Immigration Medical Exam. This screens them for diseases and provides the preventative health care that critics claim is being lost.
The changes to supplemental health benefits and other non-urgent medical processes for asylum seekers are reasonable and carefully tailored to stop the abuse by bogus claimants. All claimants still receive urgent or essential medical care, and the vast majority will still be able to access what every Canadian receives through the provincial health care system – basic doctor and hospital services.
However, bogus asylum seekers (including those whose claims have been rejected but who refuse to leave Canada) will no longer receive, at taxpayer expense, the benefits many ordinary Canadians don’t receive – eye and dental coverage, for example. As Minister Kenney said, “...we do not want to ask Canadians to pay for benefits for protected persons and refugee claimants that are more generous than what they are entitled to themselves.”
When a refugee claimant is found to be a genuine refugee, he or she will have access to the full benefits of the provincial health care system.
Along with these changes, the government has introduced reforms that will speed the processing of asylum claimants from safe countries. Rather than waiting years for their claims to be heard, as is now the case, asylum seekers will now have their claims heard in a matter of weeks. This means that the temporary health coverage for these claimants is only a short interim measure.
The cost savings of these changes, once they are activated, could be about $100 million over the next five years. “With this reform,” Minister Kenney said, “we are also taking away an incentive from people who may be considering filing an unfounded refugee claim in Canada.”
Changes to the Interim Federal Health Program are in Canada’s best interest for many reasons. They defend the integrity of our immigration process, protect the health and safety of Canadians, and make sure that YOUR tax dollars are spent wisely.
For more information on the Interim Federal Health Program, please visit the Citizenship and Immigration website at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/ifh.asp