Social Benefits for New Immigrants to Canada

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It is easy to feel despair living in a country where -40C is the new normal. The situation is especially grim if you’re a new immigrant in a foreign country. Although you might be confused as to where to get help, you shouldn’t panic because the Canadian government has a few programs to ensure new immigrants do not feel lost at sea in their new country.

New immigrants to Canada, especially refugees, have specific rights in employment and education. The Canadian government also provides designated programs to provide financial support, health care, and settlement assistance to immigrants in need of such services. In this piece, we’ll be taking a look at some of these programs and the impact they have on newcomers to Canada.

Health Care

Many immigrants can qualify for medical treatment through the Interim Federal Health program. It is a program by the Canadian government to provide health coverage for newcomers pending when they can get covered through the health care plan of a province.

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) is for immigrants who do not qualify for the territorial health insurance or the provincial health care plan. The coverage is limited and temporary for the following individuals:

  • Protected individuals, including refugees in the Resettlement Program
  • Refugee claimants
  • Others

The IFHP doesn’t defray the cost of health care services an individual claims through a public or private health insurance scheme. You can’t claim benefits under co-pay because it’s beyond the scope of the IFHP. The IFHP is funded by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The IFHP supplies beneficiaries with basic, prescription, and supplemental drug coverage. The IFHP also defray the cost of an Immigration Medical Exam (IME) for the following groups:

  • Refugee claimants who are on the wait for a decision.
  • Human traffic victims.
  • Detainees.
  • Refugee claimants under review by the Immigration and b Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) who qualify to apply for pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA)

Eligible Groups

  1. Resettled Refugees

Some of the resettled refugees eligible for the IFHP include:

  •  Government-Assisted Refugees
  • Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program Refugees
  • Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugees
  • Select refugees resettled via public policy or humanitarian objectives
  • Privately Sponsored Refugees

Duration

The recipient receives basic coverage until they’re enrolled under the provincial or territorial health care plan. So long as they receive financial aid from the Resettlement Assistance Program, they’ll have prescription drug and supplemental coverage.

  1. Protected Persons

The following individuals also qualify for the IFHP.

  • Individuals with positive decisions on their asylum claim
  • Individuals who are protected persons as a result of positive decisions on their PRRA

Duration

The recipient receives basic, prescription, and supplemental drugs for 90 days, starting from the time the PRRA is accepted until the time where they qualify for the provincial or territorial health plan.

  1. Refugee Claimants

Some of the refugee claimants who are eligible include:

  • Those who are awaiting a decision whether they can be referred to the IRB.
  • Those whose claims are already with the IRB, and awaiting a final decision
  • Those with rejected claims from the IRB
  • Those with ineligible claims to the IRB but eligible for PRRA assessment
  • Those with positive IRB claims

Duration

The recipient receives basic, prescription, and supplemental drugs until they depart Canada or qualify for the provincial or territorial health plan.

  1. Human Traffic Victims

Human traffic victims with temporary PR under S.24 (3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Duration

The recipient receives basic, prescription, and supplemental drugs throughout the validity of their temporary PR.

  1. Detainees

Persons under detention in accordance with the IRPA.

Duration

The recipient receives basic, prescription, and supplemental drugs throughout their detention by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).

Financial Assistance

The Canadian government provides financial aid to new immigrants to Canada. Benefits include the Immigration Loan and the Resettlement Assistance Program that provides:

  • Airport/port of entry assistance.
  • Temporary lodging and assistance to secure permanent accommodation
  • Financial aid for necessary household products and sundry items
  • Information resources to adjust quickly to the Canadian lifestyle

The funds can also be used to support income for a year or until such a time that the individual can survive and thrive on their own.

Immigration Loans

The Immigration Loans Program offers financial aid to select individuals who meet the criteria for immigration. The loans can be used to cover settlement as well as transportation costs. Although you can pay for certification using your immigration loan, free courses for new immigrants in Canada are aplenty.

After residing in Canada for a year, it’s expected that you’ll start to repay your loan. Your monthly payments are determined by the amount you borrow. If there’s a compelling reason why you can’t repay your loan, you can consult with Collections to adjust your repayment plan.

Settlement Assistance

There are settlement agencies and organizations helping newcomers to Canada adjust to the Canadian way of life. They provide language services as well as translation and job-related resources to immigrants who need them. Apart from the fact that settlement services often come at no charge to the immigrant, they are also confidential. Some of the services you can expect are:

  • The translation and interpretation of documents. If you need help to arrange such services, it will be provided to you.
  • Filling out applications and other forms or documentation.
  • English lessons – ESL or LINC.
  • Job search and job training services.
  • Help with information on health care, schools, and other community services in your location.

Settlement agencies across Canada often have staff who can speak other languages apart from English. If you go to an agency that cannot speak the language of your choice, or they don’t have the services you need, the agency will put you in touch with another agency that can meet your needs.

Other names for settlement agencies include “newcomer agencies” or “refugee-serving agencies.” Most of these agencies have criteria you must meet to enjoy their services. Some of these criteria include your immigration status or location.

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.