Feb. 26, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswick intends to remove the three-month waiting period for medicare coverage for new immigrants as well as Canadians returning to the province after extended residence outside the country.
The provincial government will be introducing amendments to the Medical Services Payment Act during the current sitting of the legislature to enable immigrants and returning Canadians to obtain medicare coverage without a lengthy wait.
The announcement was made by Health Minister Mary Schryer; Business New Brunswick Minister Victor Boudreau who is also responsible for the Population Growth Secretariat; and Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John W. Foran.
The amendments will apply to immigrants and Canadians who have been out of the country for longer than six months. This includes family members of military personnel who accompany a family member during out-of country postings.
"Removing the three-month waiting period is the right thing to do, which is why the Department of Health has been working on reviewing this policy for some time," said Schryer. "Our government recognizes that removing this barrier will enhance access to health-care services for immigrants and citizens who return home."
Removing the waiting period was recommended by stakeholders when the Population Growth Secretariat held public consultations leading to the development of a provincial population growth strategy.
"This was an important step for our immigrant attraction efforts as we work to increase our immigration intake to 5,000 immigrants per year by 2015," said Boudreau. "Removing this waiting period will facilitate settlement for newcomers who have chosen to make New Brunswick home and make the transition easier for New Brunswickers returning from abroad."
Under the amendments, individuals will need to provide evidence that they have established residence in the province to receive coverage.
"These changes will have a direct and positive impact on our military families," said Foran, who is the provincial point of contact for military relations. "There are many challenges faced by military personnel and their families, and we are pleased to offer them our support, and we encourage them to come back home to New Brunswick when their deployments are done."
MEDIA CONTACTS: Hillary Casey, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522; Brendan Langille, communications, Population Growth Secretariat, 506-444-4594; Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Public Safety, 506-444-5267.