|Country of birth of "immigrants and non-permanent residents" in Canada in 2001 Census (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
OTTAWA — The federal government is rolling back a number of health benefits currently available to asylum claimants because if Canadians don’t get free eye and dental care, neither should refugees, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday.
The move is expected to save about $100 million over five years and Kenney hopes it will deter bogus claimants from abusing Canada’s generosity.
Under the Interim Federal Health Program, protected persons, refugees and others who don’t qualify for provincial health coverage are able to access similar benefits.
The plan, however, has also covered supplemental services like pharmaceutical care, dentistry, vision care and mobility assistive devices, for which most Canadians have to pay out-of-pocket.
The government said the cost of the plan ballooned to $84.6 million in 2010-2011 and that cutting out those supplemental services will result in significant savings.
The changes are poised to take effect on June 30 and will apply to all current beneficiaries, as well as those who apply after that date.