Ukrainian refugees can now get health care immediately on P.E.I.

·2 min read
P.E.I. has made legislative changes so that refugees arriving from Ukraine can access health care quickly.  (Sergei Grits/The Associated Press - image credit)
P.E.I. has made legislative changes so that refugees arriving from Ukraine can access health care quickly. (Sergei Grits/The Associated Press - image credit)

Prince Edward Island is making it easier for Ukrainian refugees coming to P.E.I. to get the health care they need when they arrive.

More than 10 million Ukrainians — one-quarter of the country's population — have been driven from their homes, including more than 4.7 million who have fled the country since Russia's invasion began Feb. 24.

"It was the caring thing to do, to be able to provide health-care coverage for them as soon as they arrive," said P.E.I. Health and Wellness Minister Ernie Hudson.

Cabinet has approved changes to P.E.I.'s Health Services Payment Act, which will allow refugees to immediately receive a P.E.I. health card and the care that comes with that, including the provincial dental care program and the Shingrix vaccine for shingles.

"All health benefits ... everything right across the board that you or I would be entitled to under the health-care system," Hudson said.

Will be considered P.E.I. residents

Hudson said people receiving this health-care coverage must be under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel stream.

He said when Canada welcomed refugees from Syria they were classified by the federal government as resettled and were granted permanent residency status immediately, which provided for health-care coverage. Ukrainian refugees are being classified differently, he said.

"When we became aware of that, we felt it was very important for these ones that are coming from the Ukraine — we've certainly all seen the devastation, the horror that these Ukrainians have experienced — and felt that it was the best thing, it was the appropriate thing," to provide health-care coverage, Hudson said. They will now be considered P.E.I. residents as soon as they arrive.

'Extraordinary circumstances'

Officials with the non-profit group Immigrant and Refugee Services Association P.E.I. (formerly the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada) say people arriving under this stream are "leaving under extraordinary circumstances" and aren't going through regular immigration programs. That can result in a gap in health care.

The group said it welcomes the province's move.

"In some cases, there may be individuals who had been receiving ongoing care for medical conditions in Ukraine and need to resume treatments and in others there would be the need to assess physical and mental well being," said Todd MacEwen with IRSA.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting