What you need to know about Canadian health care before arrival

Credit to Author: Canadian Immigrant| Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2019 19:50:40 +0000

Canada’s universal public health care system may have factored in to your decision to immigrate to Canada, but although public health care is one of Canada’s top selling features, it may come as a surprise that newcomers aren’t immediately eligible for coverage.  Here’s what you need to know about Canadian health care before arrival:

Who is eligible for health care?

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for public health insurance in Canada. With it, you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services.  Rather than a national plan, Canada’s public health care system consists of provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common standards.  Each province issues a provincial health care card which you show to the hospital or medical clinic when you receive treatment.

How to apply for a public health insurance card

Those eligible for public health insurance should apply for a health insurance card from their provincial government as soon as possible upon arrival in Canada.  You can get an application form from your province’s ministry of health online or in person.   When you apply for a health insurance card, you will need to show identification such as your birth certificate or passport or your confirmation of permanent residence (IMM 5992) or your permanent resident card.  In most provinces, each family member will receive their own health card with a personal health identification number.  The exception is Manitoba, where only adults receive health insurance cards and children are placed under their parents’ card.  It’s recommended that you carry your health insurance card with you at all times in case of an emergency.

Waiting for coverage

Most provinces require new residents to undergo a waiting period before receiving health coverage.  For most provinces, this period is three months.  During this time, you can apply for temporary private health insurance coverage.  This is highly recommended, especially for families with young children or elderly newcomers who may require medical attention during the waiting period.

If you have a medical emergency before your provincial health card arrives and you don’t have private health care coverage, you could end up with a huge bill.  Refugee claimants and certain other newcomers who are not yet eligible for provincial health insurance may be eligible for temporary coverage at no cost through the Interim Federal Health Program.

Community health centres

While it’s recommended newcomers get private health insurance while waiting for provincial health care to kick in, community health centres offer a cheaper alternative for those without provincial coverage who need basic medical care.  Community health centres are non-profit organizations that have doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners on staff to provide health services for free or a small fee. However, there could often be a wait list for these services.

Private health insurance after provincial health care

Even after you receive your public health card, you may want to consider also attaining private health insurance.  Private insurance is available for services that are not covered under your province’s health insurance plan.  These may include dental costs, private hospital rooms, prescription drugs and prescription eyeglasses.  Some employers offer employees access to their private group health care insurance plans.

Emergency services

In the case of a health emergency, call 911 to connect to emergency services (ambulance, fire and police).  If you can get to the hospital without the assistance of an ambulance, all hospitals have an emergency entrance where patients requiring medical attention can seek help.

Walk-in clinics

For non-emergency situations, walk-in clinics are a great option if you haven’t already found a family physician or if your family physician’s office is closed.  Walk-in clinics are available across the country and are staffed by experienced doctors who can provide medical care for minor injuries and illnesses.  Typically no appointments are necessary and care is provided on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Provincial coverage

To find out more about provincial public health care coverage for newcomers, visit:

Alberta –https://www.alberta.ca/ahcip-moving-to-alberta.aspx

British Columbia – http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/insurance/msp_register.html

Manitoba – https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mhsip/index.html

New Brunswick – https://welcomenb.ca/content/wel-bien/en/LivingSettling/content/Healthcare.html

Nova Scotia – https://novascotia.ca/dhw/msi/

Ontario – https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-ohip-and-get-health-card

Prince Edward Island – https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/health-pei

Quebec – http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/living-quebec/health/index.html

Saskatchewan – https://www.ehealthsask.ca/residents/health-cards/Pages/Apply-for-a-Health-Card.aspx