Government backs down on IFHP cuts, but for one refugee group only

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

It's membership time. Cultivate Canada's media. Support Become a member.

TORONTO-Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care is grateful that the Government has backed down on cuts to health coverage for one refugee group: Government Assisted Refugees. Doctors expect the same coverage for all other refugee groups.

On Friday, June 29, the day before the cuts went into effect, Minister Jason Kenney stated that the Government Assisted Refugees would not be affected by the cuts to their health coverage. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website was changed on Friday afternoon to confirm that the government had indeed backed down on cuts for Government Assisted Refugees, but for no other refugee group.

Such a reversal indicates that the government acknowledges the need for access to medications, prosthetics, emergency dental and vision services and other essential health services for refugees. The federal government has finally agreed with health care workers, as a matter of equity, that refugees deserve the same health coverage as other low income Canadians-no more, no less.

Despite this reversal, many other refugees will still be denied access to basic health services.

Dr. Philip Berger of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto stated, "Most concerning is that refugees who come from what the government deems to be 'safe countries', will be denied the most basic health coverage. These refugees will be denied care for serious conditions such as heart attacks, other medical emergencies and all chronic diseases. Pregnant refugee women and their babies will be denied care. The government needs to rescind the Interim Federal Health Program changes so that all refugees have access to basic health care."

Dr. Megan Williams, from Somerset Community West Community Health Centre in Ottawa, said, "The vast majority of refugees who are sponsored by church groups and other citizens will lose access to life saving medications. Many of these refugees come from refugee camps and have endured war and other forms of violence. Imposing these cuts is inhumane for refugees and unfair to the church groups and other citizens who have sponsored these refugees in good faith."

Dr. Meb Rashid of Women's College Hospital in Toronto said, "The physician advocacy campaign against these cuts will continue until the government rescinds the cuts for all refugees. Over a dozen national organizations, representing a breadth of health care workers, have condemned these cuts. Health care workers have organized across the country and have developed a surveillance system to document the effects of these cuts. We will publicize these cases so that the government, media, and other Canadians know the consequences of the government's policy."

The government's concession for Government Assisted Refugees is too little and too late. Many other refugees will suffer because of the cuts that are still in place. Doctors and other health care workers expect that the government will rescind its plan to cut health care coverage for all refugees.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.