Settle in Canada: Health Care Insurance
Canada has a universal healthcare system and public health insurance plan.
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for a public service health care plan in your province. With it, you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services.
The universal healthcare system is paid for through taxes. When you use public healthcare services, you must show your health insurance card to the hospital or medical clinic.
Each province and territory has its own health insurance plan. Make sure you know what your plan covers.
All provinces and territories will provide free emergency medical services, even if you don’t have a government health card. There may be restrictions depending on your immigration status.
If you have an emergency, go to the nearest hospital. A walk-in clinic might charge fees if you don’t live in that province or territory.
The Waiting Period to Get Public Health Card
In some provinces, you must wait up to three months, before you can get government health insurance. Contact the ministry of health in your province or territory to know how long you’ll need to wait. Make sure you have private health insurance to cover your healthcare needs during this waiting period.
Getting a Health Card
You need a health insurance card from the province or territory where you live to get health care in Canada. You must show this card each time you get medical services.
Extra Health Insurance
The federal government’s public health plans give you access to basic medical services. You may also need private insurance to pay for things that government plans don’t fully cover.
The most common types of plan are extended health plans. These cover costs for:
- prescription medications;
- dental care;
- ambulance services; and
- prescription eyeglasses.
If you work, you may get extra coverage from the company or organization you work for.
Health Coverage for Protected Persons or Refugee Claimants
In some cases, the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides temporary health insurance to:
- protected persons, and
- refugee claimants.
The temporary care covers you and your dependents until you are eligible for health plan coverage through your province, territory or private plan.