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Syrian refugee settlement in Canada

Syrian refugee settlement in Canada

As violent conflict continues in Syria, close to 12 million Syrians have been displaced — either within their own country or to neighbouring nations. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) encourages members to support the relief effort and reception of refugees into Canada.

Watch this space for current links, information and recommended resources for physicians.

The #WelcomeRefugees website highlights the federal government’s plans to receive Syrian refugees, both government-assisted and privately sponsored.

How can CMA members help?

  • Contact your local refugee settlement network, local public health unit or regional health authority to determine where physicians are needed:
    • for initial assessment of recently arrived refugees
    • to accept refugees as patients in family practices
    • to support additional needs, within certain specialties
  • Consider registering for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) through Medavie Blue Cross to provide care to refugee patients not covered by provincial or territorial health plans.
  • Review resources listed here to support evidence-informed practice with refugee patients.
  • Support organizations that help provide for individuals and families, both in Syria and in the resettlement process in Canada.
  • Consider sponsoring an individual or family coming from Syria. See:

Setting up health care for the refugees

Before arrival in Canada, all immigrants receive a full medical exam. When they land in Montreal or Toronto all refugees are screened for signs of illness, as per the Quarantine Act.

These refugees are eligible for Type 1 benefits under the IFHP for up to one year. This includes both government-assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees. Type 1 benefits include basic coverage, supplemental coverage and prescription drug coverage.

Many provinces and territories also offer access to their health plans either within the first 48 hours of a refugee’s arrival or after a three-month wait. Once a refugee is eligible for that health plan, basic IFHP health coverage ceases but IFHP supplemental coverage and prescription drug coverage continues for up to one year.

Refugees have often experienced limited access to health care and education prior to arrival in Canada, due to conflict and long periods in refugee camps. Many have experienced trauma and violence. Initial assessments seek to screen early needs, but many medical conditions arise over time, as resettlement unfolds.