Cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program for Refugees: How do they add up?

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18 Oct 2012

When the government announced massive cuts to refugee healthcare under the IFH program, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney boasted that the cuts would save Canadian taxpayers $100 million over five years. But how do the numbers add up?

Before the cuts, the full costs of the IFH program were $84.6 million a year. This figure is from 2010, and that same year the government spent roughly the same amount—$83.3 million—on government ads, arguably a far less urgent government program.

In fact, the Conservative government has overspent the ad budget by at least 25% every year on record, for a total of $128 million during its first five years in office.[1] Compare that number to the $100 million the government plans to save through cuts to the IFH program over five years.

Total costs and savings in 5 years

Or let’s consider this. In 2009, when the economic downturn was in full swing, the government budgeted $39 million just to promote its Economic Action Plan. It ended up overspending this amount as well, spending instead nearly $54 million, more than twice the annual savings from IFH cuts.

From - used with permissionPut in perspective, $20 million saved annually is not a lot of money. $20 million translates to a mere 59 cents per Canadian, something highlighted by the 59 Cents Campaign.

Meanwhile each Canadian taxpayer is spending nearly 76 cents a year on government ad over-runs.

How would you rather the government spend your money?


[1] The breakdown of Government Advertising figures on the Treasury Board of Canada website amounts to:

2012-13: $64 million (amount spent not known yet)

2011-12: $53 million (amount spent not known yet)

2010-11: $65.4 million approved, $83.3 million spent ($17.9 million difference)

2009-10: $85.3 million approved, $136.3 million spent ($51 million difference)

2008-09: $63 million, $79.5 million spent ($16.5 million difference)

2007-08: $64.8 million, $84.1 million spent ($19.3 million difference)

2006-07: $63.5 million, $86.9 million spent ($23.4 million difference)