Refugees No Longer Covered For Eyeglasses, Dental Care

By James Metcalfe | May 24, 2012

by James Metcalfe – Pace Law Firm: Jason Kenney is at it again. Each week seems to bring a notice of change in Canadian immigration policy and procedure. Some of these changes grab public attention, while others go unnoticed. Some of the changes are good, some are not.

This past week, Mr. Kenney announced that refugee claimants in Canada who are not eligible for provincial health insurance – but are covered by what is called Interim Federal Health Insurance – will no longer be covered for eye glasses, dental care, and drugs. Since most Canadians do not enjoy this level of service, common sense has prevailed and refugee claimants no longer automatically have benefits for which Canadians themselves have to pay.

One wonders if the bureaucrats who have been managing this program for the past ten years were aware of this disparity.  Perhaps being public servants and automatically receiving generous extended health benefits had blinded them to a glaring fact: many people in Canada are only covered by basic provincial health plans. Eye glasses? Forget it. Dental coverage? No. Prescription drugs? Nada.

Sometimes it seems that public policy is developed and written in the vacuum of the nation’s capital, with little or no regard to the reality faced by most Canadians. This time, I think Ottawa got it right.