Healthcare in Canada


how does the healthcare system work in Canada ? Is it efficient ?

What are the main differences between public and private sectors?

Is it recommended to purchase private health insurance in Canada?

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience !


hi julien
we have provincial health care
we pay a portion of same via monthly payroll deductions
there's a shortage of general practitioners in cda, so some regions of canada do not have enough docs
getting in to see a specialist of any kind without a personal connection, can take months
so yes, it is good to have health care
we don't face bills when admitted to hospital etc
but more people are supplementing their healthcare with private clinics...usually executives acquire this via their remuneration etc.
i know some folks who live in toronto but when then needed an mri etc went to buffalo where you can purchase the scan in a matter of days; so we do have issues
i'm not versed in blue cross or other independent insurers but again know contractors who purchase it as you really do not want to be unable to pay for prescriptions or have dental work done when needed.

Thanks for the explanation Suzie !

Our health care is free, but you have the option to pay for private clinics as well... No need to go to the states as you can get the same treatment here in Canada..

Is the healthcare options same or mostly similar in all provinces of Canada ?


In order to help expats and soon-to-be expats, we would like to invite you to share your experience on this topic, with updated info on the healthcare system.

Thank you in advance,

Julie Team

Healthcare is manage by each province themselves. So if you move from one province to another, you'll have to change your healthcard. There are minor nuances between each province. For the most part, all healthcare are free. It depends on your status in Canada of course. What the terms are, you'll have to find out when you go to each of the providers. In Nova Scotia it is call MSI. In Newfoundland its MCP. In Ontario it is OHIP, etc etc.

It is important to note that this does not cover the cost of drugs. It only covers visitation to the doctor. Drug plans are mostly private and you'll have to purchase one or if you are working, may get one from your company. The provincial health plans also does not cover dental if I am not mistaken. However, dental for children (under a certain age) may be covered by the federal/province.

In Quebec it is not as good as in Europe, because of the difficulty to find a family docter you have to go to walk in clinics or the emergency hospital, for a simple prescription renewal it can take 3-4 hours of waiting in a walk in clinic, for a renewal that takes 10 min max. If you have something more serious it can take easily 12 hours and more in an emergency hospital unless it is life treatening. There is also a semi private system, I was told for example for a hip replacement I had the choice to wait 16 months or pay 25.000$ and they could operate me in a week.
It took 3 months just to meet with a surgeon. I called a hosipital in Holland, the receptionist geve me the e mail adress of a hip surgeon and 3 months later I was operated, they also used an advanced system versus the system used in Quebec, Recuperation took 3 days , a friend of mine operated here had to walk with cruches for 6 weeks.

I can talk just by experience. I had Cancer. The experience was a bit traumatic but thanks to the system I'm cured. I can tell you that the health care system in Canada is something the people should be proud of. Is not perfect; however, nothing is perfect in the world and can be improved. The system works and many people misunderstands what the system is all about.
There are different levels of urgency and priority as well as availability. All provinces are different but basically the same concept of Universal Health Care where your taxes pays the most of it.
The health care is "free" and you do not have to pay for doctors and treatments, however you must complement with a private insurance for hospital and medicines.
Many people believes that USA has better system. I do not think so. If you have insurance, you are covered up to a certain point; the rest comes from your pocket and you can expect to be paying for a treatment for the rest of your life.
Other people thinks that the Cuban system is another great thing. False, is overrated and obsolete.
Canada, Australia and England has A+ health care systems as well as other European countries.
For me is the best and I can talk by experience..!!

A reply on the post of vkargacin, I agree, if you have cancer the system is very good, as also for other emergencies.
My only complaint is about the less urgent matters, I once went with my daughter to the hospital, no choice as she did not have a pedetrician, she had a severe stomach ache, I entered the hospital at 17.00, at 17.05 the nurse saw us and told us to wait, I finally left the hospital at midnight without ever seeing a docter, I know many parents with the same experience. It is simply the lack of GP s in Quebec that causes this.
And I find the system in Europe more honest, we don't have a class system, wether you are rich or a homeless person, waiting times for surgery are the same, here the rich pay and are operated in a week, the poor have to wait one and a half year untill it is their turn.

I live in British Columbia. Here the healthcare, like most others, is run by the provincial government. You don't have the option to go private for certain things. Seeing a dr is not that bad but any special things such as Xrays, scans, surgery can have waiting lists. Here we pay for the depends on income and how large your family is. If you earn less than $25000 per annum its free. It is about $145 per month. Some employers pay part of it or all of it. Extendwd medical normally cover things that the normal healthcare does not cover and mainly helps with dentistry etc as the normal medical does not cover it.

Hi, I moved to Canada, Surrey not long ago. I have yet apply for the health card so if I have to visit private GP, do I pay a normal rate or is there a higher price I have to pay since I am still a foreigner? I do have my other insurances but applicable for hospitalisation only. Thanks

How did you come? What I mean what's your status here? Are you on a student visa / permanent residency / working visa / visitor visa ?

I am not so sure how BC works but most provinces are the same to a certain extend. If you're PR you definitely can apply for a health card. I believe it should be this, … u-eligible

If you're a student, I am not sure, you'll have to find out from your student services dept of the university. In Nova Scotia, only students in their 2nd year can apply for one. Or other one's who's already started working in the university as Research Assistant or TA and has a SIN number.

Of course if you're on a work permit, you should qualify too as you will pay tax.

Drug plan is another thing altogether. Usually it doesn't come free.

Hi, I am on visitor visa right now but my husband is currently applying for spousal sponsorship for me.

The upside of the Canadian healthcare system is that it will not impoverish you, unlike the United States. Can certain services be streamlined? Absolutely. But there is something comforting about not having to worry about money when you walk through the emergency room doors. I needed stitches (in Vancouver) and was treated very efficiently. On the other hand it took my sister months to get an appointment with a cardiologist. But he then referred her to a lung specialist and it only took a couple of weeks.

Being in a larger city gives you access to more medical clinics, which means you don't necessarily need a GP, whereas other places have long waiting lists to get a family doctor. It took almost three years in PEI for us to get a GP and by that time we were ready to leave. So, obviously not perfect, but I'd take it over the old US system any day.

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