Backgrounder Article from  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Interim Federal Health Program – Coverage for Syrian Refugees

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides limited, temporary health coverage for resettled refugees, refugee claimants and certain other groups who are not eligible for provincial or territorial health-care coverage. Eligible individuals receive coverage under the IFHP until they are eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance. The IFHP also does not cover health care services and products where a claim can be made under a private insurance plan.

The IFHP does not provide services directly to beneficiaries. It is administered by Medavie Blue Cross. Health-care providers submit claims and are reimbursed for the cost of eligible services provided, the same process as any other private health insurance plan. IFHP beneficiaries can visit any health-care practitioner in Canada for covered services, provided that the practitioner is either already registered or is willing to register with Medavie Blue Cross.

The coverage offered through the IFHP to beneficiaries after their arrival in Canada includes basic, supplemental and medication coverage:

  • Basic coverage is similar to what provinces and territories provide their residents. It includes hospital services and services provided by a doctor, including pre-and post-natal care, laboratory, diagnostic and ambulance services and vaccinations.
  • Supplemental coverage is similar to what provinces and territories provide their residents on social assistance. It includes both services and products such as:
    • dental and vision care;
    • home care and long-term care;
    • services provided by allied health care practitioners including clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, physiotherapists; and
    • assistive devices, medical supplies and equipment.
  • Medication coverage is similar to what provinces and territories provide their residents on social assistance and includes coverage for most prescription medications.

In general, resettled refugees are eligible for basic health coverage from the province or territory of residence upon arrival in Canada.

For all Syrian refugees, the IFHP will provide basic coverage during any waiting periods required by the province or territory they are settling in, or during any time where the refugee has not yet applied for or been issued their provincial/territorial health coverage.

Once they receive health insurance from the province or territory that they settle in, the IFHP will continue to provide coverage for supplemental services, like dental and vision care, and prescription drugs for up to one year.

The certificate that IFHP beneficiaries need to show to health-care providers each time they seek services are being given to Syrian refugees by Canada Border Services Agency officers upon their arrival in Canada or at an inland IRCC office shortly after arrival. An information sheet is also being provided.

Additional IFHP information and resources are available online, including:


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