It is essential to be well-prepared for your stay in Canada, especially when it comes to your own health. Below we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and concerns regarding medical care in Canada.
Travel Health Insurance
Do I need travel health insurance for coming to Canada?
The Government of Canada does not pay for medical costs for foreign students and therefore, it is highly recommended that you book travel health insurance for the whole duration of your stay before coming to Canada.
Medical costs for non-residents are very expensive in Canada and depending on the province you live in, you might pay between $600-1000 CAD for an emergency room visit and $2,000-7,100 CAD for a night in the hospital.
Have a look at our website for more information about the travel health insurance we offer for international students in cooperation with StudyInsured.
What costs are usually excluded by health insurance providers?
When booking health insurance, make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. Medical costs usually excluded from basic travel health insurances are: Routine check-ups, pregnancy treatments, some dentist costs, pre-existing conditions, vaccines, and cosmetic treatments.
If you enjoy doing sports, watch out for a paragraph about high-risk sports. This might even exclude activities such as snowboarding or surfing.
How do travel health insurances work?
When you have travel health insurance and you need to see a doctor or have to go to the hospital, most of the time you will need to pay for the medical services performed upfront. When higher costs are involved, you will receive a bill that needs to be paid by a specific date.
Make sure to have a debit or credit card on hand when visiting a clinic or hospital to pay your medical expenses, and always ask for a receipt. You should submit the payment receipt to your travel insurance. You will be reimbursed for the costs, as long as they are covered by your insurance policy. Always remember to read the terms of conditions of your insurance to know what’s excluded.
What documents should I request from my doctor at home?
Especially if you are staying in Canada for an extended period of time, you should always see your doctor at home before you leave. Remember to do all routine check-ups (e.g. dentist appointment) and request the following documents if applicable to your health history:
• Medical records about any ongoing or pre-existing conditions (for example diabetes or allergies).
• Ask for an additional supply of your prescription medicine or for detailed information about what you usually take in case you want to buy it in Canada.
• Request your immunization records and make sure that you are up to date on your vaccine schedule.
Provincial Health Care
Can I apply for a provincial health care plan?
Usually, you can apply for a provincial health care plan if you are living in one province for longer than 6 months.
Medical Services Plan (MSP) is a mandatory health insurance plan, for everyone who lives in British Columbia (BC) for six months or longer. You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins. International students pay $75 CAD per month.
You can only apply for Ontario’s Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) if you have a work permit for longer than 6 months (for example a Working Holiday visa).
I’m planning on applying for a provincial health care plan. Will this be enough?
No, as an international student you will need travel health insurance to be fully covered. Some medical expenses are excluded from provincial health care plans, for example, repatriation (costs of returning you home for medical reasons).
Medicine in Canada
Where can I buy medicine in Canada?
In Canada, medicine is readily available in drugstores (such as London Drugs, Shoppers or Rexall) and in pharmacies. Medication costs are regulated in Canada and therefore, you shouldn’t pay much more if you go to a different drugstore or pharmacy.
What is the difference between over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicine?
Over-the-counter drugs (nonprescription medicine) are sold directly at a drugstore or pharmacy without you having to see a doctor. This includes allergy medicine, painkillers, and cold medication. Prescription medicine has to be prescribed by a doctor after they have seen you for an appointment. In Canada, some medicine is considered nonprescription medicine, yet may only be dispensed by a pharmacist after they have assessed your needs and symptoms.
Personal Health Concerns
I have special medical needs (e.g. dietary or health issues).
Please make sure to list all health issues and dietary restrictions on your application form. It is essential that our staff knows about any special needs you have – especially when you plan on booking accommodation with Tamwood. We are able to accommodate most common diets (for example vegetarian) but might ask you to be flexible in some cases.
I have to take prescription medicine.
Depending on how long you plan on staying in Canada, it might be easiest to ask your doctor at home for an additional supply of your prescription medicine. You will be able to buy prescription medicine in Canada, but you will have to see a doctor and might have to take medicine from a different brand.
If you take prescription medicine with you to Canada, request a prescription form from your doctor, which confirms the dose and that the medicine has been prescribed for a longer amount of time. Carry the document with you during your travel or leave it in the same bag or container in your suitcase so that Canadian customs know what the purpose of the extra medicine is.
What should I do when I get sick?
If you get sick while on campus, alert a staff member. If you get sick outside of school and it is not an emergency, you can visit a walk-in clinic or a hospital. You can usually find a walk-in clinic nearby where you live and they do not require you to make an appointment. However, it is recommended to check their opening hours and call if you are not sure. You can always go to a hospital if it’s more urgent.
Make sure to let Tamwood (and possibly your homestay) know if you are sick and have to stay home.
What should I do in an emergency?
If it’s a medical emergency on campus, alert a staff member immediately and if necessary, call 911 for an ambulance. If it’s a medical emergency outside of school, call 911 for an ambulance or visit a hospital.
What safety measures do you have in place regarding COVID-19?
In accordance with Provincial Health Authorities, Tamwood has implemented and communicated a COVID-19 safety plan. This includes training staff on risk management and protocols, enhanced cleaning schedules, controls at all entry points, providing hand sanitizers and physical distancing measurements like traffic patterns, class, and common room occupancy limits, and a redesigned working and learning spaces.
All new arrivals to Canada, have to quarantine for 14 days before being able to come to campus and join class. A designated Student Care Manager will check in with you on a daily basis to make sure that you are feeling well – physically and mentally.
You have to immediately inform a Tamwood staff member and any person you have come in close contact with (for example at your homestay or other accommodation) if you experience any of the known COVID-19 symptoms.