Canada has excellent medical facilities, each staffed with a wide array of specialists. While members of foreign missions can access all medical facilities in the healthcare system, they may be required to pay all fees before they are treated. Healthcare in Canada is expensive, so it is important to obtain good medical insurance that covers a wide range of services.
There are no private hospitals or clinics that cater only to foreign officials, although some of the larger foreign missions do have “on-site” health practitioners. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) houses both a general practitioner and a pediatrician.
The Canadian healthcare system is publically funded and administered at the provincial level. Each province offers basic health insurance to its residents, which is typically free of charge. This system covers all medically necessary hospital and physician services. Other services, such as dental, vision care, ambulance services, pharmaceuticals and lab work, are delivered privately. Private insurance companies offer extended healthcare plans to cover these services. Depending on the foreign mission, health care for non-Canadians may be covered by insurance purchased personally or by the mission (as a group insurance). Alternatively, services may be paid for directly by the foreign mission. When selecting the health insurance plan, newcomers should ensure that both basic and extended health care services are covered in the package.
In Ontario, the basic government insurance plan is usually referred to as OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). The Ontario Ministry of Health (www.health.gov.on.ca) considers foreign government representatives as “non-residents” for the purpose of health insurance, services and hospitalization. As a result, career members of the diplomatic and consular corps are not eligible for OHIP coverage and must directly pay for all medical services. All foreign representatives residing in Ontario are advised to purchase private health insurance or negotiate coverage with their home country for medical expense coverage to ensure that their health care costs are covered. There are a number of private medical clinics in both Ottawa and Toronto, which accept direct payment for medical services and do not require their patients to hold a valid OHIP card.
In Canada, it can often be difficult to find a family doctor (primary care physician) who is accepting new patients. In Ontario, the provincial government offers a website to link those in need of a family doctor with those who have openings in their service, see https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-family- doctor-or- nurse-practitioner.
The Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ, www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca) is the government of Québec’s health insurance system. A foreign mission’s staff may apply for RAMQ, for a fee. After a three-month waiting period, RAMQ covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. The provincial healthcare plan will not reimburse any costs incurred during the three-month waiting period. In order for your health insurance to remain valid, you must be present in Québec for at least six months out of the year.
In order to register for provincial health insurance, you must either call the Régie directly or visit one of their offices to obtain a registration form. This registration form must be submitted in person to a Régie office. You will also need to include proof of employment in Canada, proof of residency in Québec and a photo that meets the requirements of the provincial government (http://www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca/en/citizens/health-insu... insurance-card/Pages/photo-signature.aspx#photo-exempte)
Foreign representatives are also eligible to apply to the Annual Insurance Premium Program, for which they are subject to pay an annual premium. You can register for this plan by picking up documents from the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Legal Affairs and External Relation’s Bureau. This program does not include, however, access to the province’s Prescription Drug Insurance Plan. Foreign representatives should take out a private prescription drug plan.
In Canada, it can often be difficult to find a family doctor (primary care physician) who is accepting new patients. In Québec, the provincial government offers a website to link those in need of a family doctor with those who have openings in their service, see http://sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/programmes-et- mesures-daide/guichet- dacces-pour- la-clientele-sans- medecin-de- famille/.
Foreign representatives in Québec should note that not all family physicians accept the Health Insurance Card as payment for their fees. If this is a concern, you should ensure that the family physician you choose participates in this program. Otherwise, you will pay for healthcare costs out of pocket. For detailed information pertaining to participating and non-participating physicians consult www.medecina.ca In order to reduce wait times to see your family physician in Québec, the province introduced Bonjour-Santé, which allows you to book a same-day or next-day consultation with your doctor.
In Alberta, most health and medical services are covered under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP, www.health.alberta.ca). However, there are services that are not covered by the plan, and for which a foreign mission staff member will need to pay. To receive healthcare services covered by AHCIP, a staff member must apply within three months of arriving in Alberta. Foreign students and temporary workers may be eligible.
In order to apply for provincial healthcare, foreign representatives are required to show proof of Alberta residency, provide a piece of government issued photo identification (diplomatic ID card) and legal entitlement to be in Canada (Canadian entry document). Application forms are available on the AHCIP website. Alberta provincial health care does not cover ambulance services, eye glasses and contact lenses, dental coverage and prescription drugs.
In Canada, it can often be difficult to find a family doctor (primary care physician) who is accepting new patients. In Alberta, the provincial government offers a website to link those in need of a family doctor with those who have openings in their service, see http://search.cpsa.ca/physiciansearch.
British Columbia’s government health insurance system is the Medical Services Plan (MSP, www.gov.bc.ca/health). Anyone residing in BC for longer than six months is required by law to enroll in MSP and pay premiums directly to the plan. After a three-month waiting period, MSP covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services.
Application forms for BC health insurance are available at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/forms/102f.... Foreign representatives are also required to submit proof of their consular post. The MSP does not include eye glasses or contact lens, dental coverage, prescription drugs or elective surgeries. Moreover, those covered under the plan are required to be in Canada for at least six months of the year.
In Canada, it can often be difficult to find a family doctor (primary care physician) who is accepting new patients. In British Columbia, the provincial government offers a website to link those in need of a family doctor with those who have openings in their service, see https://www.cpsbc.ca/physician_search.
It is recommended that all foreign personnel and their dependents have a thorough health checkup in their homeland, including seeing a dentist and having any laboratory tests completed, before coming to Canada. These checkups might be more easily performed in their native language where the health system is well-known to them. Those with chronic conditions should check with their doctors in their home country to explore the availability of services in Canada.