Everything You Need to Know About Canadian Health Care

The Canadian health care system, Medicare, is ranked among the top healthcare systems in the world! The system is publicly funded, meaning citizens and permanent residents of Canada get access to free health care for most medical purposes. It is one of the many attractive reasons why people want to make Canada their home. What newcomers don’t realize is Medicare does not cover everything and getting access to Medicare is not automatic. Which is why, in this article you will discover everything you need to know about Canadian health care.

What is Medicare?

woman holding heart representing health

Medicare is the name of Canada’s universal health care system, which grants citizens and permanent residents access to world-class health care services. Medicare covers most primary health services like hospital care, physician services, most diagnostic tests among other services. Medicare does not typically cover expenses for dentistry, optometry and prescription drugs.

Though prescription drugs are not explicitly covered by Medicare, there may be some measures, like publicly funded drug coverage programs, in place to lower the costs of medicine in some circumstances. These programs run parallel with Medicare and are not directly affiliated with the system.

Bear in mind every province and territory of Canada has their own health insurance plan. If you are migrating to Canada, make sure you become familiar with the area you are moving to’s health insurance plan.

If you would like to benefit from this system, it is essential that you bring your health insurance card along with you when you seek care.

Who Qualifies for Medicare?

couple visiting the doctor for an appointment

Permanent residents and citizens of Canada qualify for Medicare. Once you arrive in Canada, you will not automatically gain access to it. Rather, you will have to apply for a Canadian health care card. There is typically a three months waiting period to get the card; however, there are currently 7 provinces that will provide you with immediate access to Medicare.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador all offer immediate access to medicare. You will still have to apply for a health card, but the date of coverage will have retroactive effect to the time you arrived in the country for permanent residence.

If you are a permanent resident of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, you will be facing a waiting period. It is important to start your application as soon as you arrive in Canada so that you can get your card as quickly as possible. In the meantime you will have to take out private medical insurance to cover you in the interim.

If you are subject to a waiting period, you must have the intention of settling in the province or territory for long enough to be considered a resident according to the area’s jurisdiction.

What About Temporary Residents?

If you hold a work permit or study permit, you may have have access to Medicare depending on the province or territory you are living in. Temporary residents who hold a work permit can, for example, be eligible for Canadian health care if they intend to live and work in the same province or territory for a requisite time period, normally between six and twelve months.

International students who hold a study permit will face even greater limitations when it comes to Medicare access. Some jurisdictions never offer medicare to students and others will only do so if the candidate is registered in a program of at least a year’s duration. If you are planning on studying in a province that does not offer Medicare to international students, do not worry! There will most likely be a different health plan put into place for you.

What About Tourists and Visitors?

young woman on holiday in quebec

If you are not a resident of Canada and you are entering the country on a visitors visa, you will unfortunately not qualify for Medicare. Make sure you take out private insurance if you plan on visiting Canada. Rather be safe than sorry, otherwise you will be faced with some pretty hefty medical expenses.

Another great thing about medicare is that you will not be discriminated against if you have a pre-existing condition. Canada will accept you into the system regardless of new, existing or past conditions!

How to Apply for Canadian Health Care

healthcare insurance in Canada

Seeing as every province and territory has their own health insurance plan, the requirements you will need to meet will differ slightly. If, for instance, you want to apply for New Brunswick’s Canadian health care system you will simply have to complete an application form and you will have to send some supporting documents. These documents must prove your status in Canada (confirmation of permanent residence, birth certificate etc.), your identity (ID document, valid passport etc.) and your residency in New Brunswick (Mortgage document, Lease Agreement etc.).

Medicare is one of the reasons why Canadians enjoy such a long and healthy life. Before you can benefit from the great Canadian Health Care system, you will have to get there first! If you would like to immigrate to Canada, we have you covered. The first step is figuring out if you qualify.

There are over 70 routes to Canada so figuring out which one is right for you can be quite difficult. Thankfully our comprehensive evaluation service makes things easy. Simply sign up for our services, answer a few simple questions and you will receive expert advice on the Canadian immigration programs best suited to your needs. Let’s get you to Canada!