Refugee Health, Care and Support


Community Health Centres (CHCs) across Canada have decades of experience providing care and support to government-assisted and privately-sponsored refugees, as well as diverse refugee claimants. CHCs provide a broad scope of primary health care services, programs and supports through interprofessional teams, enabling refugee newcomers to receive the care and social support they require.

Support often begins by addressing immediate health and social needs, but evolves over years as CHCs become the ongoing primary health care centre for many refugee newcomers. This continuity of care and support beyond the initial settlement period is critical to ensure that, like all CHC clients/patients, refugees have the necessary resources for health including accessible care, access to affordable housing, education, employment and other inputs for health and wellbeing.

The inter-sectoral, team-based model of individual, family and community care provided by CHCs enables them to mobilize a range of resources and local partnerships to scale-up and adapt local responses to emerging situations in the community.

CHCs across Canada are once again stepping up as a pillar of Canada’s health and social services systems as our country welcomes close to 50,000 refugee newcomers by the end of 2016. Special emphasis at CHCs is being placed on the large numbers of Syrian newcomers arriving in Canada.


 The Canadian Association of Community Health Centres (CACHC), which represents Community Health Centres (CHCs) across Canada, is among the many organizations mobilizing in response to the arrival of many more refugees to our country.

The association is in communication with the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ministry of Health, and other relevant federal agencies to boost Canada’s overall response. Efforts are being led by the association’s National Refugee Health Working Group, made up of Community Health Centre leads from across the country…

…“Our immediate goal is to better coordinate settlement, care and support activities for the 50,000 Syrian and other refugee newcomers expected to arrive in Canada by the end of 2016,” says Scott Wolfe, Executive Director of the association. However, he says that the association is underscoring the need for federal investment in a more integrated and systemic primary health care response for refugees, citing current efforts as a critical opportunity to ‘get it right’.

“Healthcare and social services available to refugees across the country are a patchwork, with disproportionate emphasis on the first year or two after arrival. We need to make sure that refugees have access to appropriate care, which should include access to a Community Health Centre so that they not only receive immediate attention, but also the sort of integrated, team-based care and support they require beyond their first two years in Canada.”

Excerpted from a Dec 2015 article by Association of Ontario Health Centres » Read the Full Article



On September 18, 2015 during the national Community Health Centres conference — Agents of Care, Agents of Change — CACHC recognized the dedication and leadership of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care with a 2015 Agent of Change Award.


In 2012, the Conservative Government  of Canada unilaterally imposed cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which has covered basic healthcare services for refugees and asylum seekers in Canada since 1957. Together with partner associations and Canadians from coast to coast, CACHC strongly advocated a full reversal of cuts to the IFHP. Cuts to the IFHP resulted in massive confusion across health and social systems regarding coverage for refugees and asylum seekers. This resulted in people being turned away from urgently needed services – often incorrectly and illegitimately – as well as added layers of bureaucracy, delays, and cost burdens that have affected our shared health system. Read more about this issue and CACHC’s formal intervention on behalf of refugees with the Federal Court of Appeals.
  • Nov 9, 2015: Federal Government to restore refugee healthcare; CACHC recognizes Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care
  • Feb 25, 2015CACHC and RNAO file intervener testimony in Federal Court of Appeal case on refugee health benefits (Court File)
  • Dec 10, 2014CACHC and RNAO granted intervener status ahead of Federal Court of Appeal case on coverage for refugee claimants
  • Nov 19, 2014CACHC and RNAO file to intervene with Federal Court of Appeal on refugee health (Court File)
  • Nov 1, 2014CACHC welcomes federal court decision on refugee health
  • Oct 7, 2014CACHC calls on Government of Canada to stop its appeal of Supreme Court ruling on refugee health cuts
  • July 4, 2014Canada’s health centres applaud federal court ruling on protections for refugees
  • June 17, 2013Canada’s health centres call for an end to assault on Canadian health system and our most vulnerable
  • July 5, 2012Federal Government’s reversal of position on refugee health-care cuts a move in right direction
  • June 4, 2012Cuts to refugee health care a race to the bottom: Docs and CHCs
  • May 15, 2012Canada’s health centres call on federal government to reverse dangerous health care cuts