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Healthcare in Canada

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Do I qualify for free healthcare in Canada?

Notice* Changes are in place so that in some provinces there is no waiting period for healthcare. This is to ensure that everyone has healthcare coverage during the pandemic.

In Canada, we have "Universal Healthcare" which is healthcare that is publicly funded. This means that a portion of taxes paid by Canadians goes towards a healthcare system that benefits all Canadians and Canadian permanent residents. In addition, Canada extends this system to foreign workers and foreign students who have temporary resident status in Canada, and in some instances, it is also extended to their families.

Universal Health Care System

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you must still apply for public health insurance. Usually, this is done at birth, or when you become a permanent resident of Canada.

With Universal Healthcare, you don’t have to pay for most health-care services.

The Universal Healthcare system is paid for through taxes and when you use public health-care services, you must show your health insurance card to the hospital or medical clinic.

Each province and territory has its own health insurance plan. Make sure you know what your plan covers. We have listed each provinces' site below.

All provinces and territories will provide emergency medical services, even if you don’t have a government health card. If you have an emergency, go to the nearest hospital. A walk-in clinic might charge fees if you don’t live in that province or territory and there may be restrictions depending on your immigration status.

Waiting Periods for Universal Healthcare Coverage

Some provinces do not impose a waiting period for newly landed permanent residents. They are: Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador. If you live in one of these provinces you are eligible for healthcare immediately. After registering for a health card with the qualifying documentation, the effective date of coverage is made retroactive to the date you arrived to establish residence in the province or territory. This allows you to begin using the healthcare system immediately.

In contrast, the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec, and the territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut continue to impose a waiting period on newly arrived residents.

The waiting period can be up to three months from the date you physically land in the province or territory with immigration status.

In order to continue receiving healthcare, you must arrive with immigration status that is eligible for healthcare, and with the intent to establish residency for long enough to meet that province or territory's definition of residence. Each province has individual requirements. However, in most cases, this means that you must be physically present in the province for a minimum period of time each calendar year. Since this varies by province or territory it is important to be aware of the rules pertaining to the province or territory in which you live. We have included all of the provincial and territorial websites below.

Temporary Residents and Healthcare Temporary Residents may be eligible for healthcare in Canada. However, there are usually additional conditions to satisfy when you are in Canada with temporary status.

A temporary resident who holds a work permit, that is valid for the minimum duration required by the province of residence and work, may be eligible for that province or territory's health plan. Usually the minimum time is 6-12 months and many provinces have a waiting period of three months of continuous work or study before the health coverage comes into effect.

There are exceptions to the above and it is important to review the regulations surrounding your specific permit.

If you are a study permit holder it is important that you obtain information for your specific area/province/territory as there is considerable variance in how each program is delivered.

A temporary resident’s healthcare coverage expires when his or her work or study permit expires. Temporary residents must reapply for healthcare each time they have a new permit. This may cause a gap in coverage so be aware of this potential period of time during which you may not qualify for public healthcare.

Note: Temporary residents must be prepared to purchase additional health coverage for waiting periods and for gaps between work and study permits. Provincial and territorial ministries of health:

If you are coming to Canada for temporary or permanent residence and require more information or assistance navigating the Universal Healthcare system, please contact us at to book a consultation. #healthcare #temporaryresidence #healthcarecanada #medicalcoveragecanada #healthinsurance #immigrationstationcanada


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a fifth generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the link located at the top right of the page.

How Can We Help?

We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with an expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications.

Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.


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