Canadians benefit from universal access to public health care that is administered by the provinces and which meets the requirements of the federal Canada Health Act. As with mandated protections for employees and tenants, the provinces differ slightly in terms of how they deliver health care coverage, especially with respect to non- residents. In most Canadian provinces, non-residents are simply not covered for any part of their stay in Canada.

Because it is unlikely that you will be covered by Canadian public health care insurance, it is vitally important that you arrange to be covered by your own private health care insurance from the moment you arrive Canada, and that you ensure this insurance coverage lasts at least until you leave. Extending your medical insurance coverage can sometimes be difficult when you are in Canada, so make sure the term of your insurance covers your entire stay. Arranging for your own insurance before you arrive will be less expensive in the long-run than purchasing a Visitor to Canada insurance package once you are here.

Medical costs can be very expensive in Canada (up to several thousand dollars a day) so maintaining your coverage is very important. The procedures for which you are covered will depend on your individual insurance policy so read your policy or contact your insurance company to be sure.

If you need to extend your insurance term while in Canada, do so before your existing term expires. You will need to provide your insurance company with the policy number, the date the policy was issued, the expiry date and the type of insurance. Ensure your payment for extended coverage is received by your insurance company prior to the expiry date of the existing policy.

There are two ways to extend your insurance while in Canada:

  • Ask a family member or friend back home to contact your insurance company or your sending organization on your behalf.23

  • Phone or fax your insurance company or sending organization with the information; use a credit card to pay or mail the company a money order.

Although it is unlikely that you will be covered by Canadian public health care insurance during your stay, you may nevertheless investigate the provincial websites below in case there is a possibility that public medical coverage may be extended to you in the particular province in which you are residing.

Medical and Dental Visits

In most areas of Canada, if you experience a medical emergency you, or someone helping you, will dial 911 on a landline telephone. In some remote parts of Canada, you may have to dial 0 to reach the operator. You will be charged for ambulance services if these are required.

For less threatening situations, for example, if your stomach hurts or you have twisted your ankle, your best bet is to visit a walk-in clinic where you will be examined by medical staff, i.e. a physician or a nurse practitioner.

You can expect to pay between $50 to $100 for an examination by a medical doctor. In emergencies in which you are admitted to hospital, the hospital will contact your insurance company directly on your behalf. Always carry the emergency contact number of your insurance company and your policy number with you.

You will be required to pay up-front costs for medicine you receive and for medical services, so keep all receipts. You will need these to claim your expenses through your insurance company, in accordance with the conditions of your particular policy. Make sure you are adequately covered to avoid taking thousands of dollars in medical debt home as a souvenir!

Fees for dental services can vary depending on the dentist and the required procedures. You can save money by having minor dental work performed by supervised dentistry students at local colleges. Dental work is not covered by public health care insurance in Canada

Disclaimer - Everything changes over time and so can the information mentioned within. Always consult official sources regarding visa requirements and travel to another country. This is not an official source.