Experts are warning that many new Canadian visitors and immigrants do not consider what health coverage they may need until they are already in Canada. Whether you are coming to Canada as a visitor, a permanent resident, a work permit holder or a study permit holder, the experts are warning that you should never assume you will qualify for public health care coverage when you arrive in Canada.
Do your research to avoid any unexpected consequences. Getting travel insurance to Canada is crucial for visitors and so is health insurance for new Canadian immigrants.
Health Insurance for New Canadian Immigrants
Even though the Canadian health care system (Medicare is the name of Canada’s publicly funded health care system) is considered one of the best in the world, it still has some coverage limitations such as a waiting period for new Canadian immigrants. It means that new Canadian immigrants may not be covered for health emergencies that happen in the gap between landing and establishing coverage, particularly in provinces where a waiting period exists.
All provinces and territories will provide free emergency medical services, even if you don’t have a government health card. However, there may be restrictions depending on your immigration status.
While Canada has an established public health care system, certain provinces impose a waiting period for new permanent residents, while work permit and study permit holders are also treated differently.
Immediate Health Coverage for New Permanent Residents
Currently there are seven provinces that offer immediate Medicare coverage for newly landed permanent residents. In these provinces, after registering for a health card with the qualifying documentation, the effective date of coverage is made retroactive to the date the new resident arrived to establish residence in the province or territory.
Check if you pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program. It takes only about 15 minutes and it's free
In three provinces and all territories a Medicare waiting period is imposed on newly arrived residents. In these jurisdictions even, new residents who are Canadian citizens face the waiting period.
Newfoundland & Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Experts advise that new permanent residents who face a Medicare coverage waiting period should purchase interim (private) medical insurance for the applicable waiting period.
Temporary Workers and International Students
Individuals on temporary work or student permit should understand healthcare in Canada for non residents. In some provinces, immigrants are required to hold work permits valid for a certain period of time, usually six or 12 months, to be eligible for health coverage. There are even greater risks for student visa holders. Certain provinces or territories:
Never offer Medicare to international students.
Offer Medicare only if the student is registered for a scholastic program longer than 12 months.
Only offer coverage after the student has resided with study permit for 12 continuous months in the province or territory.
Let international students on Medicare immediately or after that jurisdiction’s standard waiting period, if they possess a study permit valid for six months or longer.
Effective September 1, 2018, Manitoba Health implemented new eligibility criteria which made international students ineligible for coverage, regardless of their duration of permit or study permit.
What is Covered Under Canadian Public Health Systems
Medicare covers basic or primary health services, such as medically necessary hospital care, physician services, and certain medically necessary diagnostic tests.The following are examples of health services/costs typically not covered by Medicare:
Paramedical practitioners, (such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.)
Medical equipment (wheel chair, crutches, braces, etc.)
Optometrist, prescription glasses, contact lenses
Medical care received outside Canada
You may need private insurance to pay for things that government plans don’t fully cover. The most common types of plans are extended health plans. These cover costs for:
If you work, you may get extra coverage from the company or organization you work for.