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Quebec extends health coverage for temporary foreign workers

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As of April 29, temporary foreign workers whose permits are expiring and cannot be renewed due to processing delays and as a result of the special measures put in place by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be able to benefit from continued access to the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Quebec (RAMQ).

RAMQ (the government health insurance board in Quebec) officials confirmed the decision in a letter sent to the Quebec section of the Canadian Bar Association last week.

Temporary foreign workers (TFW) who have applied to have their permits extended but whose permit expires before a decision is made by the federal immigration authorities, can remain in Canada under implied status.

However, in Quebec, to have implied status does not give a foreign worker a right of access to the RAMQ and means, among other things, that they would not be entitled to reimbursement of hospital costs.

In recent weeks, many organizations, humanitarian aid movements and immigration lawyers have called on governments to act, highlighting and the lack of medical coverage and precarious immigration status of TFWs. Many workers find themselves in a vulnerable situation because their applications are on hold due to processing delays affecting all levels of government since special measures were put in place to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

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From now on, all temporary foreign workers with valid implied status in Quebec will be able to benefit from a six-month extension of the medical coverage provided by the RAMQ.

However, the renewal will not be done automatically and TFWs are expected to contact the RAMQ themselves and request an “extension form.” Once they receive the form, they must complete, sign and mail it back to the RAMQ along with a copy of the previous work permit as well as a letter from the IRCC confirming receipt of the current work permit extension request. Applicants are not required to provide identity photos at this time.

Following these steps, applicants will be mailed new RAMQ cards that will be valid for six months.

The health coverage may also be extended to accompanying family members.

This support measure is limited to people who previously had access to the RAMQ, according to information reported by Radio-Canada.

Those without a health insurance card, who may be affected by the coronavirus, still have access to free health care following a decision made by the Quebec government at the end of March.​

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