Statistics Show Bogus Asylum Seekers Racking Up Health Care Costs

George Dumont hospital in Moncton. The Canadian government spends approximately $20 million a year on health care for asylum seekers. (Stu Pendousmat)

Immigration Canada released statistics on health care spending for refugee claimants yesterday to bolster its case that the recent scaling back of free health care for those awaiting refugee decisions was necessary.

The statistics show that refugee claimants from Mexico, Hungary, Colombia, the United States and Jamaica, all countries that do not have a record of human rights abuse and persecution, received millions of dollars worth of Canadian health care services for free through the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), and proportionally more than asylum seekers from any other country.

Immigration Canada’s data shows that health care costs for 8,819 Mexican asylum seekers came to $7 million last year, for 6,749 Hungarians to $4.4 million, for 4,583 Colombians to $2.6 million, for 3,790 Americans to over $1.4 million and for 809 Jaimaican asylum seekers to $808,000.

Almost all of the claimants from these countries end up not attending their refugee hearings, withdrawing their refugee application, or having their claim rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that this made it necessary to reduce the range of free health care services provided to asylum seekers to prevent abuse of Canada’s refugee system.

“That does underscore the reasons why we’ve reformed the Interim Federal Health Program. There’s no doubt that it has been a draw factor for many false asylum claims,” commented Mr. Kenney.

Under changes to Canada’s Refugees System with the enactment of Bill C-31 on June 11th, free pharmaceutical, vision and dental care for refugee claimants was eliminated, which supporters of the cuts argue is fair as none of these services are available to Canadian citizens through Medicare.

The extent of the abuse of the Interim Federal Health Program was highlighted by Minister Kenney as he cited interviews Canada Border Service agents have conducted with some Hungarian asylum seekers when they were withdrawing their applications for refugee status, in which the claimants admitted that they had come to Canada to receive free dental care for their children, and now that they had gotten it, there was no reason to stay.


  • I am completely flabbergasted at the fallacy of this ridiculous article – whoever wrote it has absolutely no clue/did not research the human rights records of countries like Colombia (which is mispelled in the article to boot) and Mexico. I would like to see where they heard that Colombia does not have a record of human rights abuse! Same can be argued for Mexico. Jason Kenney often describes these countries as “democratic” as a way to imply that they don’t produce legitimate refugees. This is misleading precisely because of the human rights abuse records they have, and the persecution that refugees from those countries are fleeing. Your article really got it wrong. For some information on the persecution of the Roma people in Hungary and neighbouring countries, please visit
    Beyond it’s obvious errors and misinformation, this inflammatory article basically equates the use of the Interim Federal Health Program as it was intended to be used by refugees, with abuse. The statistics above show that these asylum claimants are actually incurring health costs that are less than $1000 per capita year – far lower than the yearly cost for the average Canadian, which is $5000! While refugees are claiming a fraction of the health costs that other Canadians do, your article acuses them of abuse of the system. This shameful piece is a disgrace to all the Canadians that want their country to welcome those fleeing persecution with compassion.

    • The vast majority of refugee claimants from the aforementioned countries have their claims rejected because they cannot produce credible evidence that they face danger in their home country. Furthermore, nothing in the statistics provided shows that health care costs are $1000 per capita per year. If you have a source for this claim, we’d be interested in seeing it.

      We believe this article is a balanced account of the situation with respect to refugee claimants from ‘safe’ countries (countries that do not have poor human rights records according to international human rights groups).

      In any case, thank you for your comment and pointing out the spelling error on Colombia.

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