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Advice for Visitors to Canada

Travel Medical Policies for Immigrants

There are a number of things you need to do once you arrive in Canada to live.

  1. Get a Permanent Resident (PR) card
  2. Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  3. Get Travel Health Insurance until you become eligible for Medicare
  4. Consider becoming a Canadian Citizen

One of the first things is make sure you receive a permanent resident  (PR) card, proving you are now a permanent resident of Canada. Having a PR card is essential so that you can return to Canada to stay after leaving it temporarily. Applying for a PR card is unnecessary – Citizenship and Immigration Canada will send it to your new Canadian address after you have arrived in the country.

Travel Medical Policies for ImmigrantsAfter you have permanent residency status and have lived in the country for at least three full years, you can then apply for Canadian citizenship, permitting you are eligible. You must pass a test in order to obtain citizenship and may be requested for an interview by a judge for further information on your situation.

In order to work, you will need a social insurance number (SIN). You must apply in-person at a Service Canada location with original documents confirming your identity. Only individuals who live over 100km away from a Service Canada point of service or who are truly incapable of coming in person or having someone go on behalf of them can apply by mail.

Canada has one of the most effective healthcare systems in the world. Most medical services are available free-of-charge to all permanent residents and their families who are registered under a national health insurance program called "Medicare." Medicare pays for medical services provided by licensed medical doctors at hospitals, clinics or doctors’ offices.

As a Canadian citizen or an immigrant granted with landed status, you are entitled to all the benefits that Medicare provides. However, newly arrived immigrants have to wait a specified period of time before they can claim landed status which entitles them to healthcare benefits. He/she will have to pay the medical bills during that time. By purchasing Travel Health Insurance you will be covered until that time when your Medicare card comes into effect.

Moving to a new country is stressful enough without having to worry about coping with unforeseen medical expenses. As a newly arrived immigrant, you will likely be looking for work and a home as well as learning how to adapt to what may be a new culture, a new climate and quite possibly two new languages. If you have children, you may be looking for schools as well. With all this on your mind, the last thing you need is the added stress of unexpected medical expenses. Something as insignificant as a child’s ear infection can entail significant costs for consulting a doctor and purchasing antibiotics in order to treat the infection.

Should you or a family member fall ill during the waiting period, you would have to cover the cost of the ambulance, the x-rays and the expensive drugs. You may possibly have to pay up to thousands of dollars a day for surgery or hospitalization. The following figures taken from Queen’s University provide visitors and immigrants with the approximate cost of medical care in Canada:

  • $220 emergency or clinic visit
  • $2,960 standard daily ward rate per night
  • $3,535 specialized daily unit rate (ICU OR Critical Care Units)
  • $2,000 MRI with enhancement
  • $941 CAT scan with enhancement
  • $800 regular day surgery

Many people would have difficulty meeting such medical expenses. Travel health insurance would cover or partly cover those costs.