Healthcare in Canada



Considering Canada’s economic status, the infant mortality rate is significantly high at 5.4 per 1000 live births in 2005. However, life expectancy reached 80.4 years based on 2005 data by the Statistics Canada.

Canada's healthcare is funded by the federal government and known as "Medicare". Although publicly financed, it has a universal coverage and most of the services provided are from private entities.

Medicare is guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act (CHA) which was adopted in 1984.

The five main standards of CHA are public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility.

In a nutshell, CHA makes sure that all eligible residents receive reasonable access to the services of a hospital and physician on a prepaid basis with no charges at the point of use.

The private health market was not eliminated upon the inception of CHA. Despite the fact that private insurance plays a limited role in Canada, it is widespread for dental care and eye care.

Losing or changing jobs will not affect health coverage as long as the premiums are paid up to date.


A slight difference in coverage is noticeable depending on the province or territory the residents live.

For basic or emergency medical care, no out of pocket payments are necessary. Coverage comprises visiting a doctor or nurse, a hospital treatment, an appointment with a specialist, and tests ordered by your physician.

Dental and eye care are not covered by insurance. However for Manitoba, if you are under 19 years old and 64 and over, you can go to an optometrist once every two years to for a checkup.

Workers get health insurance from their respective employers as an employment benefit.

Applying for a Health Card

Citizens and residents are eligible for Canada's health insurance. Health cards are also known as care cards and are issued by each province/territory. Family members receive separate health cards with a corresponding health identification number.

Application to access healthcare is through the provincial/territorial health departments. Visit the website of the Ministry of Health of your local provincial or territory.


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Waiting Time

Most often criticised for the waiting time, Canada's health system is still a work in progress. In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper established "Patient Wait Times Guarantees by 2010" - an agreement made with the ten provinces and three territories to provide timely access to priority areas such as cancer care, hip and knee replacement, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, cataract surgeries and primary care.

The Commonwealth Fund reported that 57% of Canadians wait for four weeks or more to see a specialist and 24% of Canadians wait for four hours or more in the emergency room.

Strategies in improving the waiting time are being implemented through centralised registries and prioritisation systems that can be accessed online through the local government site (provincial/territory). An example of this initiative is Manitoba Health Services Wait Time Information.



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