A Newcomers Guide to Applying for Healthcare in Canada - ICAN
Healthcare in Canada, new comers in Canada, MSP, Medical Service Plan, OHIP, Applying for medical care
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A Newcomers Guide to Applying for Healthcare in Canada

Is health care free in Canada?

People legally residing in Canada who meet the minimal requirements for the health care coverage in their province or territory of residence, could have access to a range of free (fully covered) and low cost (partially covered) health care services and some prescribed drug coverage. The administration and delivery of these health care services are different for each province or territory.

When you arrive in the province or territory of you plan to live in, you should start the process of signing up to the Health Plan. As most provinces and territories have minimum requirements that need to be met before you are eligible for provincial health care (e.g.: minimum period spent residing in a province, minimum employment period etc.), and there can be different lengths of waiting periods for your health care coverage to be approved and become active – it is extremely important to have private health insurance during this time.

To note: If you are planning to move to Canada on the International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit, you need to have health insurance coverage when you are entering Canada. This health insurance must cover: medical care, hospitalization and repatriation. The health insurance must cover the entire time you want to stay in Canada on the IEC work permit. If you don’t have sufficient coverage, you may be denied entry into Canada. Also, if your health insurance policy is not valid for the entire two years of your work permit, you may be issued a work permit that expires at the same time as your insurance. Even when you become eligible to start receiving provincial health care coverage – you still need to keep your private health insurance policy active for the duration of your IEC work permit.

To learn more about this important requirement see Canada.ca page: International Experience Canada: How to apply  


Health system and services – Canada.ca  
Health cards – Canada.ca  > Scroll down to the province or territory that you are living in to see what the minimum requirements are and how to apply.
Ministries of health – Canada.ca 


If you have any questions or require additional support, please contact I/CAN’s National Social Care Advisor for free and confidential information and signposting: I/CAN | Mental Health Resources