Interim Federal Health Program Policy

Effective Date: This policy came into effect on August 31, 2016. It may be amended from time to time. This version incorporates updates effective July 8, 2019 to reflect implementation of changes to the intake process for refugee claimants.

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides:

  • within Canada, limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits to resettled refugees, refugee claimants, and certain others who are not eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance
  • prior to arrival in Canada, coverage for certain pre-departure medical services to refugees coming to Canada for resettlement

Statement of the scope of this document

The purpose of this document is to inform IFHP beneficiaries, health-care providers and the public of the policies of the Interim Federal Health Program.

1. Purpose and scope of the IFHP

The program has 2 purposes:

  • In Canada, it provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care costs for specific groups of people. These groups include protected persons, including resettled refugees, refugee claimants, victims of human trafficking, and certain persons detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act during their period of ineligibility for provincial or territorial health insurance.
  • It provides coverage for certain pre-departure medical services for refugees coming to Canada for resettlement.

In addition, the program helps to protect the health and safety of beneficiaries and Canadians.

The IFHP’s coverage in Canada includes basic, supplemental and prescription drug benefits. Some beneficiaries in Canada are eligible for coverage of the immigration medical examination.

Refugees coming to Canada for resettlement are also eligible, prior to arrival, for coverage of pre-departure medical services, including immigration medical examinations and follow-up treatment of health conditions that would make an individual inadmissible to Canada under paragraph 38(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, communicable disease prevention and control (vaccinations), outbreak management and control, and medical support required during transit for safe travel.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has discretion to provide full or partial coverage of health-care costs to an individual or group of individuals facing exceptional and compelling circumstances. The Minister may request that the director general or director responsible for the IFHP make this decision.

The IFHP is not intended to cover all migrants in Canada who are not covered by provincial or territorial health insurance plans or programs. It is also not intended to provide pre-departure services to all migrants coming to Canada.

The IFHP is intended to provide coverage on an interim basis.

2. Specific program terms

The IFHP coverage is limited and temporary. While basic coverage in Canada is similar to health-care coverage provided by provincial and territorial health insurance plans, and the supplemental coverage is similar to supplemental coverage provided to social assistance recipients in provinces and territories, the benefits are not exactly the same. Benefits reflect the temporary nature of the program and may vary based on the province or territory of residence.

The IFHP does not cover the cost of health-care services and products where a claim, even in part, can be made under a public or private insurance plan or program for those products and services. The IFHP does not coordinate benefits with other insurance plans and programs, so co-payments are not possible.

The IFHP does not cover Canadian citizens and foreign nationals not specified in the eligible groups.

In Canada, eligibility and length of coverage are described under Determine Your Eligibility.

3. Definitions

Governmental resettlement assistance means monthly income support received under the Resettlement Assistance Program of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or its equivalent in Quebec.

Immigration medical examination means a medical examination requested under paragraph 16(2)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and has the meaning assigned to the term “medical examination” in section 29 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Income support means recurring financial payments to individuals to enable them to meet their basic needs, including, but not limited to, food and shelter.

Protected person has the same meaning as in subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Refugee claimant means a person who makes a claim for refugee protection to an officer under subsection 99(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This includes:

  • an individual who is awaiting a decision on whether their claim is eligible to be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
  • an individual whose claim is determined eligible to be referred to the IRB and who is waiting for a final decision from the IRB on their asylum claim, including a claimant whose right to judicial review of a negative determination, or appeal of that judicial review, has not been exhausted.
  • an individual whose asylum claim is rejected by the IRB and the negative decision was not appealed, or whose right to judicial review or any appeal of that judicial review has been exhausted. This also includes an individual whose claim is deemed to be rejected under subsections 105(3), 108(3) or 109(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  • an individual whose claim for refugee protection is determined ineligible to be referred to the IRB but the individual is eligible to apply for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA).
  • an individual who receives a positive decision on their PRRA and receives a stay of removal.

Resettled refugee means a person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class, the country of asylum class, or the protected temporary residents class (as defined in Part 8, Division 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations).

Victims of human trafficking means individuals who have been issued a Temporary Resident Permit under section 24(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

4. Coverage and benefits

The benefits are limited to health-care services and products described under Summary of Coverage and included in the IFHP benefit grids:

5. Eligibility

Prior to arrival in Canada, refugees destined to Canada for resettlement are eligible for certain pre-departure medical services.

In Canada, eligibility, including when eligibility ends, is described under determine your eligibility.

6. Termination of coverage

Coverage duration is described in detail under summary of coverage.

Coverage ends when:

  • a beneficiary becomes eligible for provincial or territorial health insurance
  • a beneficiary leaves Canada
  • an individual’s refugee claim is
    • withdrawn
    • determined to be abandoned by the IRB
    • determined or re-determined ineligible to be referred to the IRB and the individual is not eligible to apply for a PRRA
  • a person detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is released from detention and is not eligible for coverage as part of any other eligible group
  • a victim of human trafficking’s temporary resident permit, issued under subsection 24(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, expires

List of acronyms

IFHP
Interim Federal Health Program
IRB
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
PRRA
Pre-Removal Risk Assessment
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