Supports for refugees
Find out about financial assistance and other help available to Syrian refugees in Alberta.
Syrian refugees who come here may be government-assisted or privately sponsored.
Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs)
After they arrive in Alberta, GARs will be directed to one of the 5 federally-funded refugee reception centres located in:
- Medicine Hat
- Red Deer
From there, they’ll be provided temporary accommodation until a longer-term solution is found.
Federal financial support for GARs also includes income support, and is intended to cover costs for accommodation, clothing and food for up to 1 year.
Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs)
PSRs are sponsored by family members or Sponsorship Agreement Holders such as individuals or community-based groups. These sponsors provide financial and emotional support for the sponsored refugee and his/her family. This includes help for housing, clothing and food, for up to 3 years.
PSRs can also receive resettlement and language supports as provided by immigrant-serving agencies.
If you or someone you know would like to help, learn how to sponsor a refugee.
People arriving from Syria will immediately have access to health care services and supports as they begin to build their lives in Alberta.
How to get health care insurance
Like any person moving to the province, refugees will need to apply for coverage under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.
Until they receive their provincial health care card, refugees will be covered for up to 1 year under the Government of Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program. This program repays the cost of care to health care providers, such as doctors, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies.
The federal program also covers the cost of prescription medications listed on the Alberta Drug Benefit List.
For health care professionals
Information on health care for refugees
Alberta Health Services' website has information and resources for health professionals who work with Syrian refugees, including translated materials and practice guides.
Interim Federal Health Program
Syrian refugees will be covered under the Interim Federal Health Program for up to 12 months after arriving in Canada.
To be reimbursed for services provided under this program, health care professionals must:
- become registered Medavie Blue Cross providers
- determine client eligibility before providing services
- submit claims after providing treatment
Alberta Health provides additional information on coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program and the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Read the Bulletin to Physicians and Billing Staff.
Additional web resources
The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) provides refugee health care resources to assist physicians with health care requirements for the Syrian refugees now arriving in Canada.
English language training
Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
This federal program supports language training in English and French to adult newcomers who are permanent residents. Launched in 1992, the program helps newcomers integrate into Canada and their communities
Language assessment and referral centres
Located around Alberta, these centres can test your language level using the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Some centre provide referral information about programs. The Calgary and Edmonton centre websites also have ESL Directories that list course information.
Other language programs and resources
The Alberta government offers a number of programs to help people improve their English.
Mental health and education resources for teachers
Resources to help teachers support refugee students in their classrooms.
Culture, Context and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Syrians(0.4 MB)
A Review for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Staff Working with Syrians Affected by Armed Conflict
The Educational and Mental Health Needs of Syrian Refugee Children(2.3 MB)
Resource from the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
Welcoming Refugee Students: Strategies for Classroom Teachers(0.3 MB)
Resource from the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance
Supporting refugee student research series
Resources to help schools support refugee and immigrant students
The federal Government-Assisted Refugee Program provides financial support to GARs for such basic expenses as food, accommodation, and clothing and provides resettlement services for up to 1 year.
GARs are eligible to receive resettlement services through regular programming delivered by immigrant serving agencies.
These services include:
- counselling and cultural orientation
- information and orientation
- referral to community resources
- translation and interpretation
- language training
- job-related services