Health Services

Applying for a Health Insurance Card

Canada has one of the finest health insurance programs in the world. Health insurance means that you don`t have to pay?directly for most health care services. They are paid for through your taxes. When you use these services, you simply present your Health Insurance Card.

While health insurance is a national service, each province administers its own program. There may be some variations for eligibility from province to province. In some provinces you will have to pay a small monthly fee for this insurance. It is important to apply for your Health Insurance Card as soon as possible, because most provinces have a waiting period before you can receive benefits. You will receive your Health Insurance Card from the province where you live. You can get an application form at a doctor`s office, a hospital, a pharmacy or an immigrant-serving organization. You can also get forms from the provincial ministry responsible for health, listed in the blue pages of your telephone book. You will need to show some identification, such as your birth certificate or passport and/or Record of Landing (IMM 1000).

During the waiting period, which could be several months, you may have to apply for private, alternative coverage. Private insurance companies are listed in the yellow pages of the telephone book, usually under insurance.?Private health insurance is also available for services which are not covered under the government health insurance plan. These might include dental costs or private hospital rooms. Some employers also offer additional health insurance for a monthly deduction from your paycheque. Also, in most provinces, health insurance does not cover the cost of prescription drugs. Remember: Each member of your family needs his or her own Health Insurance Card. Always bring your card with you when you go to the doctor or the hospital.

A Health Insurance Card must not be exchanged with anyone else. It is for your use only and you could lose the benefits it provides by letting other people use it. You could also face criminal charges and be removed from Canada.

Finding doctors and clinics

Most Canadians have a family doctor and dentist. Ask an immigrant service organization or someone you know to recommend one. You can also look them up in the yellow pages of the telephone book under physicians and Surgeons,?or dentists.? Canada also has a large number of medical clinics, which can offer a variety of health services without an appointment, or in a minor emergency. These are listed under linics?or linics-Medical?in the yellow pages.

Emergency help

If you need urgent medical help, quickly go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital or call the emergency number 911.

If you have a serious medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or allergies to medications, ask your doctor or hospital about Medic Alert tags and bracelets. These can provide useful information in an emergency.

Immunization for children

Immunization or vaccination for children is one of the most effective ways we protect all Canadians, young and old, from getting serious infectious diseases. These diseases include diphtheria, polio and tetanus. Your child gets a small dose of vaccine to help him or her build up community?to these diseases. You can arrange to have your child innoculated through your doctor or pediatrician, or through a public health clinic. You will receive an immunization or vaccination record, which you may have to provide to your child school.

In Canada there is a schedule?for these immunizations. For example, some shots are given when your child is two months old, at four months, at six months, and so on. Ask your doctor or pediatrician for a copy of this schedule, or look up the municipal department responsible for school immunization in the blue pages of your telephone book. You may also find a central help line listed under communization?in the white pages of the telephone book. The schedule varies slightly from province to province.

Immunization for adults

If you were not immunized against preventable diseases before coming to Canada, you should contact your doctor or local public health clinic immediately.

Medical surveillance

During the medical exam you underwent before becoming a Canadian resident, you may have been told that you needed a follow-up medical exam once you got to Canada. This is known as medical surveillance for those who have an inactive infectious disease. You must report, by telephone, to the public health authority of the province or territory where you live within 30 days of entering Canada. You will find this number in the blue pages of your telephone book. This is very important for your health, and for the health of your fellow Canadians.


Maternity leave is the right of all working mothers in Canada. If you are pregnant and have to stop working for a while, you can take leave, from your employer for a set period of time. You may also be entitled to paid leave, or maternity benefits. You can get more information from the provincial ministry responsible for labour or from a Human Resources Development Canada office.

For help and information before and after your baby is born, contact your local community service centre or hospital. They offer prenatal courses, medical help, nursing care, and a way to meet other new mothers. They can also give you information on registering the birth with the province, so that you receive an official birth certificate. They can also advise you about birth control and abortion.

To find out more

Key medical emergency numbers are listed in the front section of the white pages of your telephone book. Look up doctors and clinics in the yellow pages. There is also printed health information available from provincial ministries of health and from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Free pamphlets are also available on a variety of topics from Health Canada (found in the federal listings in the blue pages of your telephone book), or from doctor`s offices and drug stores.