How do you obtain medical services?

Medical services are available from hospitals, doctors and other health care providers. Persons without health insurance coverage are charged directly for these services. Insurance coverage for essential medical services is available to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Each person carries a personal health card which must be shown at the reception desk of the doctor or hospital. Each province has its own particular requirements to obtain a health insurance card so it is important to contact a provincial ministry of health office in the province you reside.

How do you get a health card?

You can apply for a health card at the provincial ministry of health office in your city. You will find the address in the provincial government listings in your telephone book. Take with you your birth certificate, Canada Immigration visa (Record of Landing) and passport. Some provinces also request further documentation showing your name and address and your signature.

All members of your family must have their own coverage. Take their documents with you, and ask the government officer for information about registering them.

Who is eligible to receive a health card?

Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible in all provinces. Certain persons in Canada for a temporary period of time (e.g., temporary workers, holders of a Minister's permit, foreign students, and refugees whose status has been confirmed by the Immigration Refugee Board) are also eligible in some provinces. Essential health care services are available to refugee claimants through the Interim Federal Health Program at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

How soon are you eligible?

Permanent residents are eligible immediately, except in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick where there is a three-month waiting period. Persons in Canada temporarily and holding Immigration Canada documentation (e.g., temporary workers, holders of a Minister's permit and foreign students) have different waiting periods, depending on the province. For more information, contact the provincial ministry of health.

Is your health card accepted throughout Canada?

For permanent residents, your health card is primarily for use in the province you live in. if you move to another province, reapply as soon as possible. There are waiting periods before you can be covered, although you are covered by the health plan of the province you left for a certain amount of time. If you are visiting another province, your card can be used in an emergency. Residents residing in a province for a temporary period should contact the provincial health insurance plan office in the province, of permanent residence for further clarification concerning their coverage throughout Canada.

How are medical services paid for?

Most medical services are paid for by various tax measures. Basic hospital charges and doctors' fees are covered. Two provinces charge premiums (British Columbia and Alberta). In general, insured services are provided on a prepaid basis, i.e. provincial plans pay the hospital or doctor directly for services they provide to eligible residents.

What medical services are NOT covered?

Provinces do not pay for services that are medically unnecessary, such as cosmetic surgery. Some provinces provide coverage for non-medical service coverage, such as prescription drugs and assistive devices. These may require a co-payment by the patient.




Health Card

Health Card - Application for

Health Services

Health Watch Institutions

Medical Examination Instructions








Migration to Canada
I An Introduction I Health I Housing I Welfare Schemes I Your Rights & Duties