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CMA President urges federal government to address refugee health as an “urgent matter”

Ottawa, (Oct. 5, 2015) – Dr. Cindy Forbes, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has written to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to express continued concern with the state of refugee health care in Canada.

“Canadians have shown their commitment to step up and work with government to help address the current refugee crisis,” said Dr. Forbes in an open letter sent today. “We urge the government to meet this compassionate spirit by ensuring that all refugees regardless of sponsorship category receive appropriate and comprehensive health care coverage.”

Despite the federal court decision in July 2014 requiring the federal government to restore coverage for all refugees to the level prior to the changes to the Interim Federal Health Program in July 2012, some categories – including privately sponsored refugees – are not receiving full coverage.

“The CMA strongly objects to such an inequitable approach,” added Dr. Forbes.

The challenges and struggles facing refugees fleeing war torn countries such as Syria has garnered international attention and contributed to the increased interest by Canadians to pursue private sponsorship of refugees. What Canadians might not know, however, is that these privately sponsored refugees are not covered for things such as prescription medication, prosthetics and emergency dental care – coverage that is available for government sponsored refugees.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA’s mission is helping physicians care for patients. The CMA will be the leader in engaging and serving physicians and be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.