Moving to Canada? Or have friends or family who are? Canada’s known for its great education system and universal health care…not to mention stunning landscapes and diverse population. All in all, we think it’s a great place to visit and an even better one to call home! But did you know that non-residents won’t be covered by provincial health care if they experience an accident or medical emergency?  Here’s what you need to know about provincial health coverage for Canadian immigrants.

Understanding provincial health care coverage in your province of choice

If you’re looking for detailed health care information about the province you’re moving to, the Government of Canada’s website is a great place to start. Health care is managed provincially and they’ve got a comprehensive list of links to all provincial government health care sites. They’ve also got tips for finding a place to live, planning your finances, adjusting to life in Canada and more.

How to apply for public health insurance

Register as soon as you get to Canada. This way you won’t be unprotected for longer than necessary. You can find enrollment forms on your province’s website or at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and immigrant organizations. To apply, you’ll need documents that provide identification and confirmation of your permanent resident status. Some provinces (BC, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec) have a 3-month waiting period for coverage.

Waiting for coverage

If you’re a Canadian immigrant waiting for your provincial health coverage to kick in, you’ll want to get private insurance to cover you and your family’s health care needs.

Learn about visitors to Canada insurance with a provider in the province you’re moving to. It’s suitable for both visitors and newcomers and will protect you if you get sick or injured.

Not sure what to look for in a Visitors to Canada plan? We answer 4 of Your Most Frequently Asked Questions in our blog post.

How public health care works

Once you’ve become a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for public health insurance and get a health card. Then you won’t have to pay for most of your medical care, since it’ll be covered by taxes. You’ll have to show your card when you go to a hospital or clinic for medical care. Remember, medical plans do vary by province, so learn about what yours covers to avoid surprises.

British Columbia and Ontario health insurance cards
You’ll need to show your health card when you go for medical care.

If you experience an emergency before you get your health card, all provinces will provide free emergency medical services. Just remember that restrictions may apply, depending on your immigration status.

Cost of health care in Canada

You may have heard all about Canada’s free health care. However, although Canadians don’t pay directly for health care services, they pay through government taxes (except in BC, where there’s a monthly premium). Coverage varies from province to province, so if you’re travelling within Canada it’s a good idea to ask about a travel within Canada plan.

What is and isn’t covered by provincial health care 

Smiling medical professionals with patient
Getting to know the doctor at the neighbourhood clinic.

As comprehensive as Canada’s provincial coverage is, keep in mind that it won’t cover everything. Most basic care is covered; this includes primary care physicians     (the doctors you go to first with your ailments), specialists and hospital services. What’s not covered varies by province, but usually includes:

  • Dental services
  • Eye care
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Some elective surgeries

Although pharmaceutical benefits aren’t available to everyone, they’re covered for the elderly, people with disabilities or those who earn a low-income.

For a complete breakdown of who’s eligible and what’s covered, the Health Canada website answers your frequently asked questions.

Have more questions? Ask below or tweet us at @tugoinsurance!

Happy travels and welcome to Canada,


All About Provincial Health Care Coverage for Canadian Immigrants

Mar 9 2016