The impact of the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program on refugees


Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

A Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law (website) Brown Bag Seminar with Janet Cleveland, a psychologist, legal scholar, and researcher on refugee rights. Everyone welcome... and please bring your lunch!


The federal government has recently made major cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). Previously, the IFHP provided the equivalent of provincial health insurance for all resettled refugees and asylum seekers, as well as coverage of medication and certain other benefits similar to those provided under provincial social assistance plans. Effective June 30, 2012, the IFHP no longer covers the cost of medication for asylum seekers except for contagious diseases or other conditions affecting public health or safety. For example, the cost of chemotherapy drugs is not covered, nor insulin, nor most other medications. The situation will be even worse for asylum seekers from certain countries designated as ‘safe’ by the government, who will have no coverage for medical care, even for emergencies, unless their condition is a threat to others. For this latter group, there will be no coverage of medical care during childbirth, for example, or for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack or head injuries. The IFHP cuts jeopardize the health of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and shift costs to provincial governments without any savings for the taxpayer.

About the speaker

Janet Cleveland is a psychologist, legal scholar, and researcher on refugee rights at the CSSS de la Montagne Research Centre, affiliated with McGill University. She has recently completed a study on the impact of detention in Canada on asylum seekers’ psychological health, and is starting a new study on access to health care for asylum seekers and undocumented persons. Since 2003, she has studied various aspects of the Canadian refugee system, including the situation of psychologically vulnerable asylum seekers.