On average, about 500,000 people immigrate to Canada each year. And while most Canadian residents are covered by some form of taxpayer-funded provincial healthcare, nearly 15% of the population remains uninsured. A portion of these are new immigrants to Canada.

With different waiting periods and residency requirements, health insurance in Canada for new immigrants can be confusing. We aim to dispel some of that confusion by answering some common questions about how to get Canadian healthcare. 

Is healthcare free in Canada for immigrants?

Immigrants to Canada can apply for provincial healthcare, but only after they have met certain residency requirements, usually following a waiting period of three months, such as in Ontario. We recommend all new immigrants to Canda purchase travel medical insurance to cover them during this waiting period. 

Who is eligible to get health insurance in Canada?

Anyone who is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada can apply for Canadian provincial health insurance. However, they must meet residency requirements specific to the province where they are residing. This usually involves around a three-month waiting period for new Canadian immigrants before they can get health insurance.

Who is Exempt from a waiting period?

The vast majority of new immigrants to Canada must abide by the waiting period before they can apply for provincial healthcare. However, certain people are exempt from this waiting period:

  • Newborns who were born in Ontario
  • Adopted children under the age of 16 who are eligible for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage
  • Protected persons such as Convention Refugees and persons in need of protection
  • People from another Canadian province/territory who move directly to a long-term care facility in Ontario, or who require admittance to such a facility within three months of arrival

What is the waiting period for Canadian health insurance outside Ontario?

Much like Ontario, several other Canadian provinces and territories have a health insurance waiting period, while others have none. 

  • Alberta – No waiting period
  • British Columbia – 3 months
  • Manitoba – No waiting period
  • New Brunswick – No waiting period
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 3 months
  • Northwest Territories – 3 months
  • Nova Scotia – No waiting period
  • Nunavut – 3 months
  • Ontario – 3 months
  • Prince Edward Island – No waiting period
  • Quebec – 3 months
  • Saskatchewan – 3 months
  • Yukon – 3 months

How can I get health insurance in Canada as a new immigrant?

If the province requires you to wait three months before applying for coverage, you can purchase travel medical insurance to cover you temporarily for emergency medical expenses as your new immigrant health insurance. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Canadian Insurance for new immigrants

How long do you have to live in Canada to get health insurance?

In most of Canada you must be a resident for a minimum of three months before you can apply for provincial health insurance. You can purchase travel medical insurance for temporary coverage during the waiting period to help you bridge the gap. 

Do immigrants get free healthcare in Canada?

Immigrants can get free, government-funded healthcare in Canada so long as they have met all residency requirements of the province where they are living and have gone through any mandatory waiting period. 

Can a US citizen get health insurance in Canada?

Yes, US citizens can get health insurance in Canada. If they are living in Canada, they are eligible to apply for provincial healthcare so long as they meet all residency requirements and have gone through the waiting period for their province if there is one. US citizens can also purchase travel medical insurance to get temporary emergency medical coverage immediately.

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