Health Tips When Moving to Canada



According to the Canada Health Act, the federal government funds the health system while the provincial governments take care of the delivery of healthcare. Here is a look at healthcare in Canada.

The healthcare system in Canada is one in which everyone is treated equally. Free treatment is provided to all permanent residents in all instances that are "medically necessary". However, medications have to be paid for by the patient. Holders of work permits and temporary residents will have to purchase a health card. Specific regulations are available on the Health Canada Website.

It is important to note that vision and dental care are not covered by public health plans. It is advisable that you get a private cover to meet any costs in that direction.


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Hospitals & Clinics

It is illegal to provide medically necessary treatment outside the public healthcare system in Canada. That is why there are no private healthcare providers. All healthcare is administered through public facilities. Overcrowding in hospitals and long waiting periods for treatment have led to an increase in demands for private healthcare facilities. There are some private establishments that provide treatment for non-medically necessary services (for instance cosmetic surgery).

Every major city has at least one hospital, and every hospital has an emergency section. Admission to a hospital depends on the availability of staff, space, and the seriousness of the medical condition. A health card is necessary to get access to hospitals in Canada.

Medicines & Pharmacies

You can purchase over the counter drugs like painkillers as well as prescription drugs at pharmacies across the country. Pharmacies in Canada are privately owned and regulated by the provincial pharmaceutical body. Service is prompt, and as prices of prescription drugs are regulated, medications in Canada are comparatively cheaper. Painkillers and medications for common ailments like cough, cold, headache and stomach problems can also be purchased from drug stores.


The best way to find a doctor is to ask your friends and co-workers to recommend a General Practitioner (GP). A General Practitioner or Physician is the person to approach for all non-emergency matters. If you require special attention, then the GP will refer you to a specialist. Dental care in Canada is expensive and provincial healthcare plans do not cover such costs. You will have to purchase private health insurance to meet any costs of dental care that you may need.

Emergency Services

Every hospital has an emergency section, and it is advisable to call an ambulance irrespective of your health cover situation.

Emergency Numbers

Fire/Police/Ambulance: 911

For health care related queries contact TeleHealth: 1-866-797-0000 (Ontario)

Health Risks

Food, water and environment related diseases do not pose a health risk in Canada. However, south-western parts of the country regularly report cases of West Nile fever. The risk of transmission is at its peak during the period from May to October. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and there is no vaccine for it. Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario have reported some cases. The H1N1 virus has also caused some deaths among people with pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, respiratory disorders, and pregnant women.