Written by Christopher Nye,
5th October 2017

Canada is a well-developed western country with healthcare services that can match anywhere in the world. Just like with the British NHS, it is free to citizens and permanent residents.

In Canada you will find a well-run health system operated by highly-trained and caring medical professionals. Most surveys find that the Canadian public is very happy with the health system and the service they receive, and in the OECD Better Life Index, Canada came 2nd out of the 34 richest countries for good health.

Universal health care is free in Canada for all citizens and permanent residents

The Canadian government understands the importance of keeping the healthcare system as effective as possible and reforms are continually carried out to improve the health services and to stay up to date with the latest medical advances.

Access and cost

To access healthcare you will need a Canadian health card. Different provinces have their own card application process with the information you need to know available on the Health Canada web site.

Getting a card is really a formality. You just need to go through the process to confirm your identity and eligibility – by providing a copy of your visa. However, it can take two to three months to get the card, so during the interim period you will need to take out some private health insurance. There are many providers that offer short-term cover and some, such as Pacific Blue Cross, have plans tailored towards new arrivals costing around C$150 per month (assuming average age and no pre-existing conditions) which can be easily cancelled as soon as you receive your health card.


Modern, efficient, and free! Canadian healthcare.


Once you have your card and are enrolled in the system, universal health care is free in Canada for all citizens and permanent residents. Generally your income taxes cover the cost of health care; however in the province of British Columbia you will have to pay a monthly premium to top-up the government funding. The BC premium is C$75 for adults; however this is reduced, or waived, for those with a low income, or the unemployed.

Canada Vs. UK health care

There are many similarities between the Canadian health care system and the NHS. Just like in the NHS, dental and optician services, prescriptions and physiotherapy services are not always covered under the universal/free system. Canadians will often take out ‘extended medical coverage’ to help with costs incurred during trips to the dentist or high street optician. The plans augment the public healthcare coverage and is often provided by employers as part of a benefits package.

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