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Ontario Temporary Health Program


Ontario Temporary Health Program

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

The Ontario Temporary Health Program (OTHP)provides access to essential and urgent health care, as well as most prescription medication coverage to refugee claimants living in Ontario, regardless of the status of their claim or the country they are from. 

The program addresses gaps created by cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program that resulted in different refugee claimant groups receiving varied health care coverage, leaving many with only very limited public health and public safety coverage.

Ontario will continue to call on the federal government to live up to its responsibility to provide health coverage for all refugee claimants, and will send them the bill for the Ontario Temporary Health Program.


The Ontario Temporary Health Program came into effect Jan. 1, 2014 to cover services including:

  • Most hospital, primary, specialist, laboratory, and diagnostic services provided in Ontario.
  • Most medications consistent with the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) formulary. Eligibility is subject to income testing.


The program provides coverage for health care and most medication for refugee claimants who:

  • Are from a Designated Country of Origin, reside in Ontario and whose claims are still pending, or
  • Will be leaving Canada either voluntarily or by deportation because their rights to review or appeal have been exhausted and who reside in Ontario

Refugee claimants who reside in Ontario, whose claims are still pending, and who are not from a Designated Country of Origin can receive coverage for most medication only under Ontario Temporary Health Program. Other health care coverage is provided by Interim Federal Health Program.   

Coverage is subject to a three-month wait period, which starts the day the refugee claimant's application is accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and as indicated by the date the federal identification card is issued.

Like the former federal program, thethreemonth wait period does not apply to certain categories of refugees. Immediate coverage isgranted to:

  • Children under the age of 18
  • Pregnant women for pre/post natal care and delivery
  • Individuals requiring immediate and urgent medical emergency attention

Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program

In June 2012, Federal Government changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) took effect. These changes cut the temporary healthcare coverage provided to refugee claimants and refugee claimants whose claims had been denied, as well as medication coverage for privately sponsored refugees.These changes also meant a limited number of refugee groups can now receive varied health care coverage for public health and safety measures like tuberculosis treatment.

Prior to the changes, all refugee claimants received extended health care coverage from the federal government, including most hospital, physician, laboratory, diagnostic services, medications and supplemental services like drugs, dental and vision care

Under the new federal program, different refugee claimant groups receive varied health care coverage leaving many with only very limited public health and public safety coverage, including tuberculosis treatment.

One of the most significant changes to the system was the removal of coverage for refugee claimants who are from a country the federal government names on its Designated Country of Origin list (e.g. Mexico,Hungary) and for rejected claimants awaiting deportation (regardless of country of origin). Most other refugee claimants no longer receive supplemental health benefits, including medication.  

For more information about the IFHP, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

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