Refugee children do not place significant demands on health care, Ontario data shows

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TORONTO — New research indicates refugee children and youth aged under 17 do not place substantial demands on the health care system in Ontario compared with their Canadian-born peers.

A study led by SickKids hospital in Toronto and non-profit research institute ICES compares 23,287 resettled refugees to 93,148 matched Ontario-born children and youth from 2008 to 2018.

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The study finds that health care utilization is generally high among refugees, but the overall excess demand on the health system is minimal.

Lead author Dr. Natasha Saunders says many refugees arrive in Canada needing care for issues related to infection, malnutrition, or dental needs.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, finds that the use of mental health services is low among all refugee groups as some children may be accessing mental health support through community resources.

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Research shows health care use among refugees varies by their sponsorship model, as health costs are higher among government-sponsored refugees compared with privately-sponsored refugees.

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