For almost sixty years, refugees arriving in Canada have received health-care coverage. Two years ago, the federal government moved to deny refugees and their families a basic human right when it made cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) claiming it would save money. The changes implemented on July 1, 2012 have actually resulted in higher costs and caused harm to families who had to resort to hospital emergency rooms because they were either denied primary care or delayed receiving care because they had no other choice.
This was predicted by front-line RNs, NPs and physicians. Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children recently documented what happens when treatment is delayed. Before the IFHP cuts were made, only 6.4 per cent of refugee children appearing in the emergency department had to be admitted. After the IFHP cuts were implemented, the admission rate for refugee children doubled to 12 per cent. IFHP cuts have negative health impacts on individuals and families and make the health-care system less efficient while downloading costs from the federal government to the provincial health-care system.
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