Canadian Paediatric Society

Canadian Paediatric Society

June 06, 2012 00:01 ET

Cuts to Refugee Health Program Put Children and Youth at Risk

LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 6, 2012) - The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) is advocating against proposed changes to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program, which provides temporary health benefits to refugees and claimants on landing in Canada.

"The new restrictions on what services are covered will leave some of Canada's most vulnerable children and youth without access to primary and preventative health care," said Dr. Charles Hui, co-author of the CPS position and a paediatric infectious diseases specialist in Ottawa. "We're imploring the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to revoke the proposed changes."

The changes, which come into effect on June 30, mean that many children and youth who are legitimate refugees or claimants will no longer receive coverage for a host of services currently funded by the program. Typically, their families have limited or no financial means to pay for the services themselves. What services will be covered will depend on what category a refugee falls into, and where they come from. Medication, vision and dental care will no longer be covered for any refugees unless there is a health or safety risk to the Canadian public.

The CPS is advocating that pregnant women, children and youth be exempt from the proposed IFH restrictions.

With coverage focused on "urgent and essential" medical care, there is a risk that both common illnesses and chronic conditions will go undiagnosed. Not covering preventative health screening also means that developmental delays may be missed.

"Refugees and claimants are coming from very vulnerable situations and so providing them with health care is extremely important," said Dr. Lindy Samson, co-author of the article. "Delays in treatment and services will lead to poorer outcomes and long-term consequences, forcing them to later rely on expensive and publicly-funded health care anyway."

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national professional association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

To access the full CPS advocacy article, e-mail

Contact Information

  • Media inquiries:
    Andree Dion
    Media Relations Coordinator
    Canadian Paediatric Society
    613-526-9397, ext. 247

    On-site in London (June 5-8)