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Feds boost funding for refugee health care, but study says barriers remain

Asylum seekers line up to enter Olympic Stadium Friday, August 4, 2017 near Montreal, Quebec. A program that covers health costs for refugees and asylum seekers in Canada is getting a funding boost of $283 million over the next two years, thanks to a cash infusion into Canada's immigration system in Budget 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

OTTAWA — Canada’s health program for refugees and asylum seekers is getting a $283 million boost over the next two years.

Immigration officials say the funding increase — contained in last week’s federal budget —  is needed because more people are making refugee claims.

The number of asylum claims in Canada more than doubled over the last two years with 55,000 people making refugee claims in 2018.

The refugee health program provides health care coverage for claimants while their applications are being reviewed but some reports suggest there is confusion among health care providers about how the program works.

Early findings of a study being conducted by law professors at the University of Ottawa have found some refugees are being turned away by health care providers who are under the mistaken assumption they do not qualify for health coverage.

Lead researcher Y.Y. Brandon Chen says health practitioners aren’t fully aware that previous cuts to the program were reversed and are also often frustrated by the red tape involved in getting reimbursed for refugee health costs.

 

The Canadian Press