By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Canada’s universal public health care system may have factored in to your decision to immigrate to Canada, but although public health care is one of Canada’s top selling features, it may come as a surprise that newcomers aren’t immediately eligible for coverage.  Here’s what you need to know about Canadian health care before arrival:

Who is eligible for health care?

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for public health insurance in Canada. With it, you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services.  Rather than a national plan, Canada’s public health care system consists of provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common standards.  Each province issues a provincial health care card which you show to the hospital or medical clinic when you receive treatment.

How to apply for a public health insurance card

Those eligible for public health insurance should apply for a health insurance card from their provincial government as soon as possible upon arrival in Canada.  You can get an application form from your province’s ministry of health online or in person.   When you apply for a health insurance card, you will need to show identification such as your birth certificate or passport or your confirmation of permanent residence (IMM 5992) or your permanent resident card.  In most provinces, each family member will receive their own health card with a personal health identification number.  The exception is Manitoba, where only adults receive health insurance cards and children are placed under their parents’ card.  It’s recommended that you carry your health insurance card with you at all times in case of an emergency.

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