Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Ontario to restore health care for refugees left behind by Interim Federal Health Program cuts

Since cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) were first announced in spring 2012, RNAO has advocated for restoring health coverage for refugees living in Canada. Now, Ontario is responding with legislation providing care for those affected by the federal government’s decision.

The 2012 federal cuts significantly reduced or eliminated access to primary care and supplemental benefits for refugee claimants. RNAO immediately spoke out against this dangerous cost-cutting measure.

We attended rallies, distributed a media release, sent a letter to federal and provincial leaders, and issued an action alert asking members to join us and demand the cuts be reversed.

In December 2013, the Ontario government took action, introducing the Ontario Temporary Health Program (OTHP). The program, set to launch Jan. 1, 2014, will provide primary care, acute care, and some medical coverage to select refugee claimants.

Ontario Minister of Health Deb Matthews and Assistant Deputy Minister Vasanthi Srinivasan sent RNAO letters announcing OTHP and thanking nurses for their efforts.

"I am aware that for the past 18 months, a dedicated group of physicians, nurses and other health-care providers have advocated on behalf of this vulnerable population," Minister Matthews wrote. "I want to express to them my heartfelt thanks."

RNAO will continue to urge the federal government to reverse its policy, however, we are pleased the province has stepped up to provide coverage.
We want to thank the thousands of members who responded to our action alert. Your response has helped bring about change, and helped promote equal access to health care for everyone living in Ontario.