Do sponsored refugees have access to the Interim Federal Health Program? If so, what kind of coverage do they get and for how long?

Starting April 1, 2016, the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) will provide health-care coverage for all eligible beneficiaries – including basic, supplemental, and prescription drug coverage. Similar to provincial/territorial health-care insurance, the coverage will include hospital and physician services. Coverage for supplemental health-care services, such as vision and urgent dental care, and for prescription drugs, will be similar to what the provinces and territories provide to Canadians who receive social assistance.

All sponsored refugees who arrived in Canada, on or after November 4, 2015, including Government-Assisted Refugees and Privately-Sponsored Refugees are eligible for Type 1 benefits under IFHP. Type 1 benefits include basic coverage, supplemental coverage, and prescription drug Coverage. Coverage will be for up to a year, starting immediately upon arrival at point of entry.

Coverage for basic health care will stop once you are eligible for coverage under a Provincial or Territorial health plan. However, supplemental and prescription drug coverage under IFHP will continue for up to a year.

For more information about the benefits available for other categories of IFHP beneficiaries, please see the Interim Federal Health Program: Summary of Benefits found on the following website:

Summary of IFHP benefits:

Basic Coverage:
Medical services:

  • Doctor visits.
  • Standard immunizations.
  • Prenatal and obstetrical care.
  • Lab tests and x-rays.

Hospital services:

  • Emergency room visits.
  • Hospital stays.
  • Medical and surgical care.

Supplemental Coverage:
Vision care:

  • One pair of eyewear (glasses and/or lenses eve two years).
  • One vision test per year.

Dental Care:

  • Emergency dental examinations.
  • Dental X-rays.
  • Extractions.

Other services:

  • Nursing Visits.
  • Emergency Ambulance.
  • Medical devices and supplies.

What is the difference between IFHP and OHIP and which one should the sponsored refugees apply for?

In general, sponsored refugees are eligible for basic health coverage from the province or territory of residence upon arrival in Canada.

For all sponsored refugees, the IFHP will provide basic coverage during any waiting periods required by the province or territory they are settling in, or during any time where the refugee has not yet applied for or been issued their provincial/territorial health coverage.

Once they receive health insurance from the province or territory that they settle in, the IFHP will continue to provide coverage for supplemental services, like dental and vision care, and prescription drugs for up to one year.

The certificate that IFHP beneficiaries need to show to health-care providers each time they seek services are being given to sponsored refugees by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers upon their arrival in Canada, or at an inland IRCC office shortly after arrival.

Will the sponsored refugees be eligible for OHIP immediately in Ontario?

Yes, sponsored refugees are exempt from the standard 3 month waiting period for OHIP.

How can I find health clinics that are knowledgeable about refugee-specific health care?

Many communities across Ontario have established refugee health clinics to make the transition easier for newly arrived refugees. Contact the Refugee HealthLine at 1-866-286-4770 for more information.

How can I find dentists for children of refugees that I have sponsored?

Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) Administered by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care , provides free dental care for eligible children and youth aged 17 and under. HSO dental coverage includes preventive, routine, and emergency and essential treatment services. Children/youth and/or families with other insurance, including the IFHP, may be eligible to also receive dental benefits under HSO. For further information please clink on link below

Where can I find resources related to healthcare in Ontario?

  • Crossroads Clinic – Syrian Refugee Medical Clinic
  • Refugee Health line
  • Community Health Centres (CHC)
  • Mental Health Helpline
  • Telehealth