With the decision by the Federal Government to accept Syrian refugees (10,000 by the end of December 2015 and 25,000 by the end of February 2016), careful attention is being paid to refugee health needs. The Ontario Pharmacists Association is working closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) to ensure that communications to pharmacy providers is timely and appropriate. The Association is pleased to provide its members with information that may assist in the timely provision of care to recently arrived refugees. 

The process by which claims are processed for refugees will begin with the distribution of OHIP cards, provided to newly arrived refugees. Since this will likely take some time, during this period, all Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada on or after November 4, 2015, including Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) and Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) are eligible for Type 1 benefits under Interim Federal Health Plan (IFHP), paid by the Government of Canada. 

Type 1 benefits include basic coverage, supplemental coverage, and prescription drug coverage. Coverage will be for up to a year, starting immediately upon arrival at the point of entry. Coverage for basic health care will stop once the individual is eligible for coverage under OHIP; however, supplemental and prescription drug coverage under IFHP will continue for up to a year. 

  • To register as a health provider under the IFHP, click here.
  • For more information on the IFHP coverage, click here.

The MEOC has produced a number of briefing notes for healthcare providers, some of which are non-specific and others which are targeted toward specific providers. These documents include:

  1. Letter from Ontario Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins 
  2. Ontario Health System Action Plan Syrian Refugees 
  3. Syrian Refugee Health Care Options (5 languages)
  4. Refugee Health Line Fact Sheet 
    • This document outlines the process specific to those HCPs who require direct referrals (ie/ physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, midwives, etc.)
    • Provided for information purposes only; not relevant for pharmacy services.
  5. Health Care Services Contact Information for HCPs 
  6. Sample Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) Certificate 
  7. Sample Interim Medical Examination (IME) Report 

The Ontario Pharmacists Association is continually monitoring the refugee situation through regular dialogues with the Ministry and will keep members informed on new information. For specific operational guidance, staff pharmacists are encouraged to speak first with their designated pharmacy manager or owner or corporate head office. For all other matters or questions relating to the provision of care to refugees under the IFHP, members are also encouraged to contact the OPA office by email