December 2, 2018 – New immigrants to Canada are being advised to be aware of what health coverage they need before they arrive.
While Canada has an established public health care system, certain provinces impose a waiting period for new permanent residents, while work permit and study permit holders are also treated differently.
Experts say many newcomers do not consider what coverage they may need until they are already in Canada.
It means that health emergencies that happen in the gap between landing and establishing coverage are not covered, particularly in provinces where a waiting period exists.
Read MoreCanadian Health Care for Immigrants: All You Need to Know FAQ
Jason Cummings, general manager and senior broker at David Cummings Insurance Services Ltd, of Vancouver, says it is important newcomers do their homework.
“While Medicare is governed by federal legislation, each province and territory administers its own public health plan,” Cummings said.
“Some impose a Medicare waiting period on new residents, and some do not. Where a waiting period applies the new resident is responsible to pay the entire cost of medical services, including hospital fees, even in an emergency. “
A public health care waiting period of up to three months is imposed in three Canadian provinces, namely Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut also impose waiting periods.
For these provinces, interim medical insurance can be purchased to cover any unexpected health care costs.
In the seven remaining provinces the coverage is retroactively applied to the date of arrival after the registration is complete.
Immediate Health Coverage for New Permanent Residents
|Immediate coverage||Waiting period|
|Nova Scotia||Northwest Territories|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||Nunavut|
|Prince Edward Island|
Where work permit and study permit holders are concerned, it again depends on the province or territory.
Work permits are required to be valid for a certain period of time, usually six or 12 months, to be covered, provided they will live and work in the same province or territory.
But the rules vary depending on the class of work permit, so candidates need to be aware of whether they are covered.
For study permit holders, there are even greater variations.
Certain provinces or territories:
- Never offer Medicare to international students.
- Offer Medicare only if the student is registered for a scholastic program longer than 12 months.
- Only offer coverage after the student has resided with study permit for 12 continuous months in the province or territory.
- Let international students on Medicare immediately or after that jurisdiction’s standard waiting period, if they possess a study permit valid for six months or longer.
“Provinces can also change their policy toward study permit holders, as international students studying in Manitoba can attest to,” Cummings said.
“Effective September 1, 2018, Manitoba Health implemented new eligibility criteria which made international students ineligible for coverage, regardless of their duration of permit or study permit.”
Whether you are coming to Canada as a permanent resident, a work permit holder or a study permit holder, the message is clear: never assume you will qualify for public health care coverage when you arrive in Canada. Do your research to avoid any unexpected consequences.
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