Mr. Speaker, while I disagree with almost everything the member has put forward in terms of her argument, she has done a reasonably decent job at least of doing some homework in coming to put forward her position today. I want to commend her on that.
To that end, the member made an important point that supports the government's position. She indicated there was an individual in her riding who had been told that treatment would not be available to him. Due to the work of her office and herself, I am sure, that individual actually ended up receiving treatment. What I am basically stating is that the program does work. A mistake was made with the individual in the member's riding and that care was returned.
What is important to understand is that the interim federal health program, which was put into place in 1957, more than 50 years ago, was meant to be a supplement to assist those who came to the country and did not have provincial health care when they arrived here. The interim federal health plan was able to help these permanent residents in the early seventies when we began to take refugees into our country. This was an opportunity to say we had a program that was available to them, so from a health care perspective at least on an interim basis, we could assist these individuals in the practical health care they needed.
We watched that program grow to the point where it was not just providing the basic health care benefits that most Canadians received who did not have or had not purchased additional coverage in terms of things like eyeglasses, dental work, prescribed medication. These were offerings and health care benefits that many of the Canadian public did not receive, but those who applied for refugee status did.
The changes we made in June 2012 were that those who were refugees would continue to receive those benefits. Those who were granted refugee status by the UN would receive supplemental benefits to assist them in their transition into permanent residency in Canada. However, we were not going to allow, and Canadians across the country have agreed with us, bogus refugee claimants who came to the country simply to take advantage of our system with the same types of benefits that those who truly deserved them should have.
To that end, the last three months have proven this to be true. In November, December and January we have seen a 70% reduction in bogus refugee claimants who were making claims in our country simply to stay here to take advantage of the Canadian system and our good-heartedness and our spirit of trying to assist.
We put this in place. We have seen a 70% reduction. That means two things. It means those who do not deserve the benefits are not getting them. Those refugees who truly deserve asylum in our country, those who are fleeing from persecution, are now in a much better position because there is an additional $2 billion in health care benefits over the next five years that will be available to those who have earned permanent residency. Canadian citizens will be able to undertake and receive some of those $2 billion in savings that we have achieved.