The vast majority of refugees in Canada will continue to receive "comprehensive, first rate" health care, despite cuts to the interim federal health program, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

In an interview with host Robyn Bresnahan that aired Wednesday on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, Kenney responded to criticism from doctors and refugee advocates who organized a day of action on Monday to protest cuts to the supplementary health benefits refugees receive when they first arrive in Canada.

Kenney disagreed with claims the cuts are unfair to a vulnerable group, pointing out what's being eliminated is not basic care but services that other modest-income Canadians also have to pay for.

"I wonder why these doctors aren't raising the same questions about [the medical benefits] taxpaying Canadians receive," Kenney said, suggesting the government acted out of a sense of fairness, "limiting it to what's generally available to Canadians."

"In the real world there are limited resources," Kenney explained.

Benefits expire June 30

The benefits that will expire June 30 include prescription drugs, vision and dental care – which many Canadians must pay for out of their own pockets unless they have coverage through a private or public supplementary insurance plan.

The protest on Parliament Hill earlier this week was part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the impact of the cuts.

"The government has used this issue to divide Canadians, pitting those who are dissatisfied with their own health coverage against refugees," Dr. Mark Tyndall, the head of infectious diseases at The Ottawa Hospital, said Monday.

"Canadians are smarter than this. This is an attack on our entire health-care system," Tyndall said.

In Wednesday's interview, Kenney said most of the cost savings will come from eliminating health benefits for failed refugee claimants who are found ineligible to remain in Canada.

The minister added his office has received strong support for the changes, by a ratio of 20 in favour to one opposed.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Albert Einstein

    In 1933, Einstein, a prominent German scientist, was accused of treason by the Third Reich. He then sought refuge in the United States.

  • Sigmund Freud

    The founder of psychoanalysis, Freud had to flee to London at 84, after having lived in Austria for 79 years, when Hitler's army attacked Austria.

  • Henry Kissinger

    A German-born American diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration, Kissinger moved to New York with his family in 1938 after fleeing Nazi persecution.

  • Madeleine Albright

    Albright was a refugee whose family fled Czechoslovakia, first from the Nazis and later from the Communists. Albright went on to become the first female United States Secretary of State.

  • M.I.A (Ms. Arulpragasam)

    Grammy winning rapper/musician M.I.A. left Sri Lanka as a refugee from the country's ongoing civil war when she was nine; she moved to a housing project in London.

  • Gloria Estefan

    Born in Cuba, the pop icon fled with her family to Miami, Florida, during the Cuban Revolution.

  • Anne Frank

    Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany. They were trapped by the occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940.

  • Karl Marx

    The famous philosopher was expelled from Paris at the end of 1844. He moved to Brussels where he was allowed to express himself in a way he couldn't in other European states.