Home » Living in Canada » Healthcare


Welcome to Canada, where a robust universal healthcare system awaits you. To provide its residents and immigrants with the best living standards, Canada offers free healthcare covering the most important medical care including doctor consultations and surgeries. Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments work separately to manage healthcare in the Country.

Dive into the details of accessing and navigating this system, tailored just for you.

Your Path to Public Health Insurance: A Step-by-Step Guide

Canada boasts a universal healthcare system, financed through taxes. Every citizen and permanent resident is eligible to apply for public health insurance.

  • Provincial Variations: Each province and territory operates under a distinct health plan, covering diverse services and products. Familiarize yourself with the specifics of your plan to maximize benefits.
  • Health Card Essentials: Upon enrollment in your province’s health system, you’ll be issued a health card. Present this card at hospitals or clinics for non-emergency services.

What’s Covered?

With public health insurance, you generally won’t incur charges for most healthcare services or emergency medical care, even without your health card (subject to immigration status restrictions).

  • Emergencies: For emergencies, head straight to the nearest hospital. Keep in mind that walk-in clinics might charge fees if you’re not a resident of that province or territory.
  • Confidential Care: Whether covered by public or private insurance, rest assured that all doctors in Canada prioritize confidentiality. Your health information remains private unless you provide consent.

Accessing Public Health Insurance: A Simple Guide

Navigating the Waiting Period

Prepare for a potential 3-month waiting period before your public health insurance kicks in. Consider obtaining private health insurance during this interim period. Contact your Ministry of Health for precise waiting period details.

Role of Family Doctors

Many Canadians have a designated family doctor for primary healthcare. These doctors handle basic health needs, from treating illnesses to offering preventive advice.

Tests and Referrals

Family doctors conduct various tests and may refer you to specialists if necessary. Having a family doctor allows you to schedule non-urgent appointments at your convenience. If multiple family members need care, book separate appointments.

Hospital vs. Pharmacy Medication

Medications provided in Canadian hospitals are free. However, pharmacy-bought medications often require payment, as public health insurance might not cover them.

Minor Ailments

For non-urgent, minor illnesses or injuries, consult a pharmacist who can recommend over-the-counter solutions. Payment is required for these medications.

Prescription Medications

Serious conditions demand prescription medications. While public health insurance may not cover these, alternative coverage from provincial programs or employers could help.

Dental Care Insights

  • Coverage Gaps: Public health insurance seldom covers dental services. Check with your public health authority or private healthcare provider to understand coverage specifics.
  • Dental Care Importance: Oral health is integral to overall well-being. Dentists can address various concerns, from maintenance to treating diseases.

To fulfill the medical requirements of a temporary resident and permanent resident, the country provides provincial/territorial health insurance/cards as per their eligibility check.

Beyond Public Insurance

Private Health Insurance

While public health insurance covers basic services, private insurance offers extended coverage, including prescriptions, dental care, physiotherapy, ambulance services, and eyeglasses. Check with your employer for additional coverage.

Special Programs for Vulnerable Groups

Refugees, protected persons, and refugee claimants may benefit from the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which provides temporary health insurance until eligibility for provincial coverage or private plans.

Finding Healthcare Professionals: Your First Step

  • Locating a Doctor: Several avenues exist to find a doctor, from recommendations to settlement service providers or Community Health Centres. Walk-in clinics are also an option.
  • Language Barriers: For those not proficient in English or French, bring an interpreter to medical appointments. Some healthcare providers offer interpretation services based on availability.
  • Finding a Dentist: Locate a dentist through online searches or recommendations. Check with your employer regarding dental coverage or be prepared for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Emergency Medical Help: In urgent situations, head to the hospital’s emergency department or call 911. While 911 calls are free, ambulance services might incur charges. Prioritize emergency room visits for critical conditions.
  • Carrying Medical Information: Consider carrying medical information in case of serious conditions. A medical necklace or bracelet can be invaluable during emergencies.

Settling In: Accessing Additional Services

Settlement Services

Connect with settlement professionals for assistance in various aspects, from job searches to language assessments, housing, education, and community services.

Pre-Arrival Services

If outside Canada, explore pre-arrival services in your home country. For those in Quebec, the provincial ministry oversees local service information.

Embark on your healthcare journey in Canada with confidence. For further assistance, explore the array of newcomer services available.

To determine if you are eligible for a health card under each province and territory’s rules, and to receive one, connect with experts at ImmigCanada now. With their industry knowledge and experience, they can suggest the most suitable insurance as per your need and help you gain the province-offered health card, if available.