The Canada Healthcare System Overview
The Canada Healthcare system is about providing health insurance for all Canadian citizens. The federal government funds it on a provincial and territorial basis under the Canada Health Act. This ensures the right priorities for each separate province. For example, the big territories and provinces will have different health demands than small territories, such as the Prince Edward Islands. Yet all the guidelines and standards stipulate universality to ensure that all residents in Canada must have access to public healthcare.
So Canada Healthcare allows individual citizens and permanent residents to have access to primary care physicians and hospitals. Almost all citizens are eligible for preventive care and medical treatments despite their medical history and social status.
Canada healthcare is mostly free at the time of use, as it is paid for through taxes. But this is true for Canadians and permanent residents. Tourists and other short-term visitors will have to personally cover medical expenses. While Healthcare in Canada is mostly publically funded, there are also private insurances available. Canadians can arrange their visits in public as well as private facilities.
Recently there have been fierce disputes about Canada Healthcare system. However, Canada boasts one of the highest life expectancies and lowest infant mortality rates of developed countries, thanks to the Canada Healthcare system.
Canada Healthcare: Public Health Insurance
According to the Canada Health Act, provincial insurance policies cover primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, and dental surgery.
Canada Healthcare has a primary care or general practice doctors and specialists. Primary care doctors are those who provide basic medical treatments and preventive care. More than 50% of all physicians are primary care doctors. To see a specialist, patients usually need to obtain a referral from their primary care physician.
A patient gets to a hospital with a physician referral. There’s also an ambulatory service available for those unable to get to the hospital in the event of an emergency
Canada Healthcare: Provincial Health Insurance
Each province and territory runs its own health insurance. New residents must apply for health coverage in the province or territory they arrive. But newcomers normally are subject to waiting periods before they receive their health coverage. This can vary depending on the province or territory.
Some provinces, such as British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario require healthcare premiums for medical services. Nevertheless, the Canada Health Act states that health services cannot be refused because of financial inability to pay premiums.
The provincial insurance under the Canada healthcare also offers additional services. For instance, physiotherapy, dental coverage, and prescription medicines.
Canada Healthcare: Private Health Insurance
Public healthcare in Canada covers basic services, such as primary care physicians and hospitals. There are services, however, which are neither covered by federal nor by provincial insurance. These are dental services, prescription medications, and optometrists.
Usually, employers offer private health insurance to their employees as a benefits package. The package usually covers vision and dental care. Along with Medicare coverage, some Canadians also purchase private insurance packages to pay services, not covered by public insurance.
Medical Coverage for Permanent Residents
Medical coverage of Canada Healthcare in each province or territory is funded by the federal government. Each jurisdiction sets its own rules on administering medical coverage. So whether a person can qualify for the immediate medical insurance plan after he arrives depends on the province he settles. For example, if a person lands in Manitoba, Alberta or New Brunswick, he will be eligible for an immediate plan. While some provinces impose a waiting period of six or 12 months from the date a newcomer lands in the province or territory with legal immigration status, others reduce the waiting period up to three months. So. This is why it is highly recommended that potential permanent residents have interim medical insurance prior to departing for Canada.
Medical Coverage for Work Permit and Study Permit Holders
International students and skilled workers with valid permits can apply for medical coverage. For that, they must satisfy the minimum duration of their stay in Canada. Usually, the required timeline ranges from six to 12 months and over.
Some provinces will provide the immediate Medicare plan to students who have a valid student permit for a year or more; others will require that a student passes a waiting period of at least six months. The same rule applies to foreign skilled workers. However, there are provinces, which refuse to provide a medical plan for students no matter how long they are going to stay in Canada. So a person has to check with the province he’s going to work or study.
Many universities might offer an alternative option for international students who are ineligible for the medical plan. Anyways, all temporary residents must note that their coverage expires with the expiration of their study or work permit.
Persons with implied status, who are waiting on a new immigration document, might be treated a bit differently. Usually, such an individual will have to provide proof that he has applied for a new work or study permit. But there are provinces that make no exceptions to temporary residents with implied status. A person who is unable to benefit from Medicare should purchase a private medical plan to cover his medical services and hospital expenses.
The Canada Healthcare Insurance Plans by Provinces
As mentioned above, Canada Healthcare is publicly funded. And the term Medicare means that Canadian residents have access to medically necessary hospital and physician services without paying their personal money. However, provincial and territorial government together with the federal government, share the Canada Healthcare responsibilities.
Here is the short overview of the healthcare insurance in each province. It gives a reader general information with a further link to learn more about health care in each territory or province.
Alberta Health Insurance
Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Alberta use the Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan (AHCIP). This is full coverage for medical procedures, including dental and oral surgical health services.
The AHCIP doesn’t cover services, such as cosmetic surgery unless a physician prescribes it as a necessary surgery.
To apply for the Alberta Health Insurance, you can complete the form online or go to the nearest registry office and get the form there. You should submit the completed form online or mail it to the respective registry agent.
When applying for the AHCIP, permanent residents must present their permanent resident card, Id and photo identification. Also, they must provide proof of their residency in the province. This can be utility bills, bank statement etc.
To find out more about the Alberta Healthcare Plan, visit the official website.
British Columbia Health Insurance
The British health insurance plan is known as a Medical Service Plan (MSP). All residents eligible for the MSP must obtain it. Even if a person can’t qualify for this insurance plan, he can benefit from clinics that offer medical services to individuals without the Medical Service Plan.
To apply for an MSP card under the Canada healthcare, you have to be either a permanent or temporary resident. Temporary residents, such as student, or work permit holders are subject to a waiting period of 6 months of the year. Permanent residents applying for the MSP must provide a record of landing and permanent residence card. Depending on your situation, you may need to present additional documents, for example, your marriage certificate.
Check out the official website of BC to learn more about the MSP.
Manitoba Healthcare Insurance
The Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage concerns Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and work permit holder and their spouses/dependents. However, the work permit must be valid for at least 12 months. Tourists, visitors, and student do not qualify for the coverage.
If you are new to Manitoba, you must intend to live in Manitoba for at least 6 months (183 days). Then you will be able to apply for the Manitoba coverage. But you’ll have to wait three months before your coverage becomes active.
To apply for the Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage, newcomers must provide a copy of their passport and immigration documents issued to them and their dependents. Permanent residents qualify for the coverage on the date of their arrival in Manitoba.
New Brunswick Health Insurance
A New Brunswick Medicare card covers basic medical services. Newcomers in New Brunswick also qualify for primary, universal, government-funded healthcare. The provincial government includes most necessary services. Many employers in New Brunswick offer medical packages that cover services not provided for by Medicare.
Newfoundland and Labrador Health Insurance
A Medical Care Plan of Newfoundland and Labrador is a comprehensive plan of medical care which covers the cost of medical services. Apart from Canadian citizens, permanent residents, foreign workers, and international post-secondary students are eligible for the MCP. Foreign skilled workers must have a valid work permit for a duration of at least 12 months. This timeline requirement is also applied to study permit holders.
Detailed requirement description of eligible and ineligible candidates.
Northwest Territories Health Insurance
The Northwest Territories Health Insurance Plan doesn’t differ from the insurance plans in other provinces or territories in Canada. All eligible residents in NWT should obtain an NWT Healthcare Card. With this card, they can see a doctor or be referred to a hospital.
Get complete information about the NWT Healthcare Card on the official website of the Northwest Territories.
Nova Scotia Health Insurance
A Nova Scotia Medical Service Insurance (MSI) is available to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, residents who make their permanent home in Nova Scotia and who are present in the province 183 days every calendar day. Individuals, such as tourists and visitors to the province and student from another province, can’t be eligible for the coverage.
Visit the section Moving to Nova Scotia from Outside Canada to find out about the MSI requirements for newly arrived permanent residents, international students and workers in Nova Scotia.
Ontario Healthcare Insurance
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan is available to Canadian citizens, landed immigrants (permanent residents), residents who make their permanent home in Ontario. They must be present in the province 153 days out of 183 days once they first move to the province. Individuals with a valid Ontario open work permit must have a full-time job for at least 6 months. Foreign workers under the federal Live-in Caregiver Program must present a valid work permit as well.
If the coverage is approved, it might take up to three months for it to begin. It is advised to ensure an alternative insurance plan while waiting for the activation of the OHIP card.
Learn more about the OHIP eligibility requirements and more.
Prince Edward Island Health Insurance
The PEI Health Card covers any hospital and physician services in Prince Edward Island. New residents must reside in this province at least six months plus one day each year to qualify for a PEI Health Card. If a person moves to PEI from outside of Canada, he may be eligible for coverage on the date of his arrival.
To apply for a PEI Health Card, permanent residents must have a copy of their permanent residence document. International students and foreign skilled workers must have a valid study/work permit. With all the required documents, they must upload them online and complete and submit the online form.
Saskatchewan Health Care Insurance
The Saskatchewan offers fully covered services, partially covered services, and prescription coverage. Learn about eligibility for health benefits in this province and other useful information.
Quebec Health Care Insurance
To be eligible for the Quebec Healthcare Insurance Plan, candidates must meet certain eligibility conditions. Tourists, foreign students from a country other than those with which Quebec has concluded social security agreement, and refugee claimants are ineligible. For full information about eligibility requirements, registration, covered services and much more, visit RAMQ.
Yukon Health Care Insurance
Yukon Health Care Insurance usually becomes active three months after the date a newcomer establishes residency in this province.
If you are new to Yukon or have questions regarding the application for the Yukon Health Care Card, visit http://www.hss.gov.yk.ca/yhcip.php.