On June 30, 2012, the federal government made changes to the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program that resulted in the effective elimination of health care coverage for many refugees and refugee claimants and reduced access to health care services for most. The new program provides different health care services to various categories of refugees and claimants.
Prior to the IFH cuts taking effect, the Wellesley Institute completed a Health Equity Impact Assessment and, based on the findings, predicted that the health of refugees would be negatively affected by the changes to the IFH program and that some populations, such as women and children, would be disproportionately impacted. We also predicted an increase in avoidable emergency room visits, increased health care costs for provinces and territories, and increased prevalence of chronic conditions among refugee populations.
The Real Cost of Cutting the Interim Federal Health Program is an update on our earlier assessment. Using data collected from health care providers across Canada, we show some of the negative and avoidable health outcomes that have occurred among refugee populations since the changes to the IFH program were implemented.