IFHP Extended Coverage Pilot for Counselling Services for Afghan Refugees
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is piloting the extension of Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) coverage for mental health counselling for Afghan refugees.
Those who arrived on or after June 1, 2022, as part of the Government of Canada’s humanitarian response to the situation in Afghanistan are eligible for this initiative. This applies to Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs), and Blended Visa Office-Referred refugees (BVORs).
Resettled Afghan refugees who completed an initial assessment for mental health counselling within the first year of arrival and who have no other form of insurance to cover counselling services will continue to be covered under the IFHP. The program covers counselling sessions and related interpretation services for an additional year, for a total of two full years.
Please note that the following newcomers only receive limited IFHP coverage, so they would not be eligible for this coverage:
- extended family members of former Afghan interpreters
- extended family members of former language and cultural advisors
How can counselling be helpful?
Counselling can help with:
- difficulty sleeping
- bad memories
- family tension
What does this extended coverage include?
- Assessments and counselling sessions are covered for 2 full years starting on the date you arrived in Canada
- Professional interpretation services for assessment and counselling sessions for 2 full years starting on the date you arrived in Canada
- In-person appointments or online (virtual) appointments (if offered by the service provider)
If the counsellor doesn’t speak the language of your choice, the IFHP will cover the cost of professional interpretation services for your counselling sessions. Ask your counsellor to arrange for an interpreter for your sessions. All counselling sessions and interpretation services are private and confidential.
How to get an assessment?
You must do an assessment within your first year in Canada in order to qualify for this service.
- Ask your family doctor or nurse practitioner, or a doctor at a walk-in clinic to refer you to a counsellor (clinical counsellor, registered counsellor, social worker, psychologist or psychotherapist) who is registered with Medavie Blue Cross.
- Complete an initial assessment with the counsellor. They will send the assessment to Medavie for their approval. Counselling can begin once the coverage is approved.
Resettled newcomers are encouraged to have a valid email address on file with IRCC, as IRCC will notify those who have been approved for this additional coverage directly by email. Email addresses can be updated using this Webform.
Do you have any questions related to this second year of coverage?
- Email IRCC.IFHPMENTALHEALTHPILOT-PILOTESANTEMENTALEPFSI.IRCC@cic.gc.ca
- Call IRCC at 1-613-321-4243 (toll-free), from Monday to Friday, between 6:30 AM and 7 PM (Eastern Time). Services are available in English and French only.
- Contact a settlement worker (Find free newcomer services near you).
For more information
- What is the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)? - An article from Settlement.Org.
- I came to Canada as a refugee. What mental health services can I get? - An article from Settlement.Org.
- I came to Canada as a refugee. Am I eligible for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)? - An article from Settlement.Org.
- Honouring Canada’s Legacy in Afghanistan: Responding to the Humanitarian Crisis and Helping People Reach Safety. Report of the Special Committee on Afghanistan. House of Commons. June 2022.
- Medavie Blue Cross - IRCC Provider Listing in Ontario
- IRCC has produced a video about the types of feelings newcomers may face when they first arrive in Canada, which may be useful for explaining to clients what mental health counselling services can help with.
- Canadian Mental Health Association - Find mental health resources in Ontario.
- Mental Health & Addiction Information - Links to information and resources about mental health and addiction. From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
- Access the Secure Beneficiary Web Portal - Review your status, and services you can access, or ask questions about your IFHP coverage.