Canada Overview

Explore Canada, the world’s second-largest country, and immerse yourself in its incredible diversity. Each part of Canada offers a unique mix of landscapes and climates. Lakes and rivers dot almost every corner, with over 2 million lakes covering 7% of the land. The Northwest Territories’ Great Bear Lake is the biggest one. Canada holds about one-seventh of the world’s fresh water. Come discover the simple beauty of Canada’s vast and varied natural wonders on our website.



Geography of Canada

As the world’s second-largest country, Canada offers a diverse and dynamic landscape, with each region showcasing unique landscapes and climates. Over 2 million lakes, covering 7% of the land mass, contribute to Canada’s natural beauty, with the Northwest Territories’ Great Bear Lake standing as the largest. Home to one-seventh of the world’s fresh water, Canada’s expansive landmass of 9,970,610 square kilometers spans six time zones, providing a geographically rich experience. With coastlines along the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Arctic Ocean, Canada boasts the longest coastline globally, complemented by an 8,892-kilometer border with the United States.

Climate in Canada

Canada’s climate is characterized by its remarkable diversity, ranging from permafrost in the north to four distinct seasons toward the equator. Temperatures can soar up to 35 degrees Celsius in the summer and drop to a chilly -25 degrees Celsius during winter. The fusion of natural resources and climate sustains Canada’s success, influencing the country’s landscapes based on seasonal changes. Most Canadian cities, located within 300 kilometers of the southern border, experience mild springs, hot summers, and pleasantly crisp autumns.

 Vancouver 5.2 -0.2 21.9 12.6
 Toronto -2.5 -17.9 28.8 14.2
 Montreal -5.7 -17.6 26.1 15.6
 Ottawa -6.4 -15.4 26.3 14.9
 Calgary -0.6 -17.6 23.3 9.4
 Halifax -1.6 -10.3 23.3 13.0
 Winnipeg -14.3 -24.2 25.9 13.3


The official currency of Canada is Canadian Dollar. The symbol is $.  You can check for the exchange rate of Canadian $ with other currencies on


English and French are Canada’s two official languages, though the province of New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in the country. However, you will notice both languages on maps, tourist brochures, and product labels. The French spoken in Canada is not, for the most part, the language of France. In Quebec, where the majority of the population are of French descent, the local language is known as Quebecois. Most Quebeckers will understand formal French; it will just strike them as being a little peculiar.

Major Cities

Toronto 3,427,000 Regina 175,000
Montreal 2,921,000 Quebec City 165,000
Vancouver 1,381,000 Halifax 114,000
Ottawa 819,000 Thunder Bay 112,000
Calgary 636,000 St. John’s, NFLD 96,000
Winnipeg 595,000 Niagara Falls 72,000
Edmonton 574,000 Victoria 66,000
Hamilton 307,000


For canoeing, kayaking and white-water rafting hiking. For beach activities, surf’s up on the east coast at Ingonish Beach in Nova Scotia and in the warmer waters of Melmerby and Caribou beaches near New Glasgow. Skiers are spoilt for choice, with good cross-country skiing found all across the land. The main alpine ski centers are in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta. and British Columbia.

Education System

Canada is not only known for its picturesque locations, but also for its high standard of education. Colleges in Canada are at par with the best known colleges in the world, in terms of educational programs offered and facilities provided to the students.

Student Medical Insurance is ideal for students who are no longer covered as a dependent under their parents insurance, or who are attending school outside an HMO or PPO region, or find individual medical insurance or other current coverage too expensive.

Employment in regulated professions and trades

In Canada, about 20 percent of jobs are regulated by the government to protect public health and safety. For example: nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers, and electricians all work in regulated professions. People who want to work in regulated jobs need to get a license from the regulatory body of the province in which they live. If you want to know more about how to enter a particular profession or trade in a particular province, you should contact the provincial regulatory body for that job. The professions are self-regulating and they administer the provincial laws that apply to their profession. Rules for entering professions also differ from province to province.

Language skills

It is important to learn English or French as many newcomers begin their lives in Canada, looking for jobs that will allow them to learn or improve their English or French. The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program gives eligible adult immigrants a chance to enrol in basic English or French classes at no charge.

People with foreign credentials need a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score to enter Canadian colleges and universities. Colleges and universities offering courses in French use various French language tests.

Job opportunities (Must possess legal documentation from CIC to work in CANADA)

Human Resources Development Canada Centres:
Counselors at these centres can give you free advice and information about job and language training and work creation programs for newcomers. They can help you plan an effective job search and prepare a résumé of your education and experience. Each centre also has listings of available jobs on the computer or on bulletin boards.

Classified advertisements:
Every daily newspaper in Canada has a classified advertisements section where you will find a variety of jobs listed. In many areas, there are also weekly or monthly employment papers that advertise jobs.

Local help:
To help newcomers prepare to enter the Canadian workforce or to gain access to their profession or trade in Canada, immigrant-serving organizations have a variety of programs. Some give workshops on job search skills, where participants get an overview of the job market where they live. Participants learn, among other things, how to write a good résumé and how to behave in an interview. In some areas, there are job-finding clubs, mentoring programs, programs to help you get volunteer work experience, and wage subsidy programs.

Your personal “network”:
One of the best ways to learn about jobs is to talk to people. They can be people you know well or people you have just met. Even if they cannot lead you directly to a job, they can provide you with information, ideas, and names of other people who might be able to help and encourage you.

The Internet:
Many Web sites have information on job opportunities. You can search for a job on-line in any part of Canada. Some sites also give practical advice on how to plan your job search. Others allow you to apply for a job directly on the Internet, or to post your résumé (in English or French). When you do this, your résumé goes into a database that can be searched by employers. Try visiting the following Web sites, run by the federal government:
This is the national Web site of Human Resources Development Canada, a federal department. It is also the gateway to many of the sites mentioned below.
This is an on-line database of jobs and work or business opportunities across Canada. It matches work to people and people to work. You can click on the province where you plan to settle and submit a list of your skills to the database to find work opportunities that match your profile.
This site will take you through all the steps needed to choose a career and to carry out an effective work search.
This is a national site for career and labour market information. It will link you to job information for each province and territory. It also includes information on self-employment, education, and training.
This is the “Job Bank” Web site. It contains an on-line database of thousands of job vacancies across Canada.
This site will link you to detailed labour market information for every city in Canada.
This is a large network of job and career information Web sites. It can link you to full-time and part-time job opportunities.
This site is a gateway to job opportunities in the information technology and communications sector. It has links to company directories and associations that will help you find potential employers.
This site posts federal government jobs available across the country and accepts on-line applications.
This site is run by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It includes links to many different types of jobs and other useful information for newcomers.

Employment laws

Federal and provincial laws protect workers and employers by setting minimum wage levels, health and safety standards, and hours of work. They provide for maternity leave, annual paid vacation and protection of children who are working. There are also human rights laws that protect employees from unfair treatment by employers based on sex, age, race, religion or disability.

Employment Laws and Discrimination Protection

Canada’s federal and provincial laws establish minimum wage levels, health and safety standards, and protect against discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination based on factors such as age, sex, race, religion, or disability is strictly prohibited.

Deductions and Taxable Benefits

Whether you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, when you are hired, your employer will deduct money from your pay cheque to pay for the following:

Income tax

All Canadian residents who are old enough to work must file an income tax return each year, whether they earned any money or not. That is the law. If you are working for an employer, a percentage of your pay cheque will be deducted and sent to the federal government to cover the income tax that you owe. If too much is deducted, you will get a refund. If you paid too little, you will have to pay more. This money helps pay the cost of government services.

Canada Pension Plan

A small part of your pay cheque goes into this plan. When you retire, you will receive a monthly pension from the federal government. The amount will vary according to how many years you worked in Canada before retiring and what your salary was. Residents of Quebec pay into the Quebec Pension Plan, which works the same way as the federal plan. These plans also include survivor’s pensions for the spouses of deceased pensioners, disability pensions, and death benefits.

Employment Insurance

When you are working, a small percentage of your pay cheque will be deducted each month to go into the Employment Insurance Account. Your employer contributes to the account as well. Employment Insurance gives money to eligible, unemployed Canadian residents for a short time, while they look for a new job or take some training to learn new skills.

Taxable benefits

Your employer may provide some benefits (for example, life insurance, special medical care, a dental plan or a private pension plan) that are taxable.

Union Dues

If you are in a union, and the union has an agreement with your employer, some money will be deducted to pay the union dues.

Canada has unique rules and regulations that pertain to the establishment and operations of business enterprises. The following is an introduction to the different aspects of doing business in Canada.

Business Structures

A person or company wishing to operate a business in Canada has a choice of several business structures. The appropriate structure depends on several factors including the nature and location of the business, liability and general issues of exposure, the entity’s financing requirements, and tax considerations. Three basic structures are recognized

  • Sole Proprietorship
    A sole proprietorship is used when the business is both owned and operated by the individual responsible for the business and its liabilities. This simple structure can avoid many legal complications. Nevertheless, it may involve some requirements such as licensing. The sole proprietorship is best suited for small businesses because all of the benefits and liabilities of the business go to the individual. Unlike a corporation, the assets of the sole proprietor are at risk for the debts and other liabilities of the enterprise. Similarly, the profits of the business go directly to the individual and are taxed in his or her hands.
  • Partnership
    A partnership exists when two or more individuals or corporations carry on business together with the goal of profit. Partnerships lie exclusively within the jurisdiction of the provinces, each of which has enacted specific legislation regarding a partnership. All provinces recognize the general partnership and the limited partnership. In addition to these, the province of Québec also recognizes the undeclared partnership.
  • Incorporation
    In Canada, a corporation is a legal entity endowed with the same legal abilities that a human being possesses. A corporation can own property, enter into contracts, be held to its obligations and hold others likewise accountable. Shareholders of the corporation do not own assets of the corporation and are rarely personally responsible for its liabilities. The limited liability provided by corporations makes incorporating an easy way to transfer assets and ensure perpetual existence. Since it is a distinct legal entity, the corporation must pay tax on its income. The corporation is the most widespread business structure used in Canada.
  • Incorporation under Federal or Provincial Law
    A corporation can be formed under either federal or provincial law. Where the corporation will be conducting business in only one province, the company is usually incorporated provincially. Incorporation at the federal level might be necessary for some companies. Businesses in industries that are governed by federal regulation must be incorporated under federal law. Certain industry-specific enterprises, such as banking, must be incorporated under the appropriate federal legislation.
    Additionally, peculiarities in provincial statutes may well lead a foreign investor to choose federal incorporation. Depending on the circumstances, federal or provincial incorporation may present foreign investors with further advantages.
  • Residency Requirements
    Foreign investors must be aware of the residency requirements that apply to the directors of companies incorporated in Canada. Federal law requires that at least 25% of the directors be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Each province has its own residency requirements. For example, businesses incorporated in Ontario and Alberta have specific restrictions on foreign directors, whereas British Columbia and Quebec do not. Nova Scotia offers a particular corporation that affords favorable tax treatment to American individuals doing business anywhere in Canada.
  • Branch Operations
    A business incorporated outside of Canada may operate a branch to conduct business within Canada. A branch of a foreign corporation in Canada does not incorporate but rather must first register in the province(s) where it will carry on business. Branch offices are frequently used and may enjoy some tax advantages. The “parent” corporation remains liable for the debts, liabilities and obligation of the Canadian branch because the branch office is not a separate legal entity from the “parent” company.
  • Subsidiary Corporation
    A subsidiary of a foreign corporation can be incorporated under federal or provincial statutes governing corporations. An important advantage to choosing this method of carrying on business(interactive doing bus.) in Canada is that the liabilities of the Canadian entity are not passed on to the parent corporation. As with branch operations, the subsidiary may be required to obtain a license or registration in the province where the company carries on business.
  • Joint Venture
    A “joint venture” describes an arrangement between two or more persons who agree to contribute goods, services or capital to a common commercial enterprise. At present, Canada has no statute governing joint ventures.

Regulation on Foreign Investment

The Investment Canada Act (the Act):
Most foreign-controlled new and acquired businesses are unaffected by the Act. The majority of those that are need only comply with a notification procedure. Investors under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or from WTO member countries come under review procedures only if their investment exceeds CAD 217 million.

Other Restrictions on Foreign Ownership:
Various federal and provincial statutes place additional restrictions on foreign ownership in specific industries, as follows:

Trust and Loan Book Publishing and Engineering
Companies Selling Optometry
Broadcasting Aviation Pharmacies
Telecommunications Liquor Sales Securities Dealers
Insurance Fisheries
Oil and Gas Mining

Non-resident ownership of certain types of land is restricted in many provinces.


Taxation can be a complex matter, especially as it may involve more than one jurisdiction. For information and advice on taxation issues, it is recommended that you seek professional advice and in this regard you may wish to contact one of Canada’s leading accounting firms.

Intra-Company Transfer ( Work Permits)

Canada allows for the transfer of certain employees (executives, senior managers and specialized knowledge workers) to the Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate of an international company, without the involvement of HRSDC.

In order to qualify for a work permit as an intra-company transferee, a business enterprise “is or will be doing business” in both Canada and the foreign country.

An applicant seeking a work permit to open a new office on behalf of the foreign enterprise may also qualify, having established that the enterprise in Canada is expected to support a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge worker

An applicant may apply for the work permit in advance at any Canadian Visa Office. Alternatively, the foreign worker may apply for the permit at a Canadian Port of Entry. Also, if the foreign worker is in Canada as a Visitor, a work permit application can be filed within Canada.

Transferees should be prepared to supply the following documentation when applying for a work permit:

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Outline of pre-arranged position in Canada, including:
    • Duration of stay
    • Description of employment as an executive or specialized knowledge
  • Proof of relationship between Canadian and foreign employers
  • Proof of previous employment with organization:
    • Minimum of one continuous year in the last three years
    • Similar position to the one being offered in Canada

Initial work permits for Transferees will be valid for at most three years. Transferees entering Canada to open or work in a new office will be granted permits valid for up to one year.

Extensions may be granted for up to two years at a time. Executive Transferees can be granted permits for up to seven years in total. Specialized knowledge workers are expected to more quickly pass on their expertise and can receive permits valid for up to five years in total.

IT Specialists ( Work Permits )

In response to the need of employers to fill critical shortages in the software industry, the Government of Canada has streamlined the entry of Information Technology (IT) workers. Those workers whose skills are in high demand in the software industry are subject to a facilitated entry program.

Under normal circumstances, a foreign worker who wishes to work in Canada requires a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and a job offer validated by a local Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) office. With the IT program, the need for HRSDC validation is eliminated. This facilitated process is strictly targeted at workers entering the software sector on a temporary basis. It does not apply to individuals seeking permanent resident status in Canada.

To be eligible for a work permit under the IT worker program, the employment must fit one of these occupations:

  • Senior Animation Effects Editor
  • Embedded Systems Software Designer
  • MIS Software Designer
  • Multimedia Software Developer
  • Software Developer – Services
  • Software Products Developer
  • Telecommunications Software Designer

For workers who have received employment offers in the Province of Quebec, they will still be required to obtain a Quebec Certificate of Acceptance (CAQ) from the Minister of Relations with Citizens and Immigration of Quebec (MRCI) and this process is facilitated as well under the IT program.

Please submit an inquiry if you are a Canadian IT employer wishing to hire a foreign worker, or if you are a foreign worker with a job offer matching one of the above occupations.

HRSDC Exemptions & Approval Requirements

Generally, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Officers will be reluctant to grant HRSDC exemptions for work that does not have a positive or neutral effect on the Canadian labour market. Exemptions will be granted in cases where the social, cultural or economic benefits to Canada of the work are clear and compelling.

The admission of foreign workers on a temporary basis is deemed to be of significant benefit to Canada and does not require HRSDC job offer confirmation in the following instances:

International Agreements

  • Canada has entered a number of international agreements that facilitate the entry of foreign workers. Notable among these are the NAFTA and GATS. Admission of foreign workers under these agreements is considered to be of significant benefit and does not require HRSDC confirmation.

Entrepreneurs/self-employed candidates

  • An HRSDC exemption will be granted to private entrepreneurs who wish to come to Canada temporarily in order to start or operate a business. It will be necessary to demonstrate to CIC that the intended business will be of significant benefit to Canada despite being temporary in nature (for example, a necessary and viable seasonal operation or the operation will be left to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident upon departure). Benefit to the entrepreneur’s Canadian clients will also be considered, particularly if the temporary work will provide unique services. Additionally, applicants under this category are expected to be sole or majority owners of the business they wish to implement in Canada.

Intra-company transfers

  • Work permits may be granted without HRSDC confirmation for specific types of workers (executives, managers or specialized knowledge workers) who will be transferred temporarily to Canada from overseas affiliates of Canadian enterprises. To learn more about intra-company transfers.

Emergency repair personnel

  • Emergency repair personnel are personnel whose expertise and aid are required in Canada to provide emergency relief and to avoid the disruption of employment. Their entry is of significant benefit to Canadians.
  • Persons hired under reciprocal employment for a Canadian in a foreign company including Academic Exchanges
    Emergency repair personnel are personnel whose expertise and aid are required in Canada to provide emergency relief and to avoid the disruption of employment. Their entry is of significant benefit to Canadians.
    CIC will allow foreign citizens to work temporarily in Canada if the employment provides a reciprocal employment opportunity for a Canadian citizen abroad. Such situations should result in neutral effects on the Canadian labour market and would be processed without requiring HRSDC job offer confirmation.

This category of work includes

  • Student exchanges including SWAP programs (Student Work Abroad Programs)
  • Applications for SWAP working holiday programs must be filed in the home country of the foreign worker.
  • Academic exchanges
    • exchanges of scholars to and from Canadian institutions of higher learning. In such cases, strict job-for-job reciprocity is not required.
  • Guest Lecturers
    • persons invited by post-secondary institutions to give a series of seminars and lectures during a temporary and non-continuing time period. This time period usually is less than a complete semester.
  • Teachers, elementary and secondary
    • all elementary and secondary school teachers coming to Canada under teacher exchange programs.
  • Visiting professors
    • in Canada for 2 years or less in a position at a post-secondary institution although still officially hired by the foreign school.

Charitable or religious work

  • Workers coming to Canada to carry out duties for religious or charitable organizations can benefit from HRSDC exemption. This category does not include people coming to Canada to preach or teach doctrine.
  • The hiring organizations must not be for profit and, if charitable, must seek to relieve poverty or benefit community institutions. Applicants will be considered eligible for HRSDC exemption if they are not remunerated, the organization sending them is not remunerated and their functions go beyond the definition of work that would require a work permit. Charitable and religious workers are not volunteers as their duties are performed on a full-time basis.
  • Academic exchanges
    • exchanges of scholars to and from Canadian institutions of higher learning. In such cases, strict job-for-job reciprocity is not required.
  • Guest Lecturers
    • persons invited by post-secondary institutions to give a series of seminars and lectures during a temporary and non-continuing time period. This time period usually is less than a complete semester.
  • Teachers, elementary and secondary
    • all elementary and secondary school teachers coming to Canada under teacher exchange programs.
  • Visiting professors
    • in Canada for 2 years or less in a position at a post-secondary institution although still officially hired by the foreign school.

National Confirmation Letter

HRSDC recognizes that there is currently a shortage of qualified workers in certain sectors of the Canadian economy. As a result HRSDC has provided national confirmation letters for all foreign workers who have job offers in certain fields. National confirmation letters have been issued on behalf of seasonal agricultural workers, and certain Information Technology workers, among others, as their hiring is considered to be of significant benefit to Canada. These foreign workers do not require HRSDC confirmation.

HRSDC Confirmations

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Job Offer Confirmations

Generally, Canadian employers of foreign workers must have the position they wish to fill approved and confirmed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) before the applicant worker can apply for a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

HRSDC will first verify the existence of the job in question and then approve or reject the related employment offer by examining a number of factors. Generally, HRSDC will approve jobs that do not have a negative effect on the labour market in Canada.

Where granted, HRSDC confirmation is given to the employer and must be included in the employee’s work permit application to CIC.

For jobs in Quebec , additional approval and confirmation must be provided by the “Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l’Immigration du Québec (MRCIQ).”

Certain jobs and work categories do not require HRSDC confirmation. Whenever possible, the Canadian employer should seek an exemption from HRSDC approval as the HRSDC process may be lengthy and there is no assurance of success.

HRSDC Confirmation – What factors are considered?

The potential employer of a foreign worker must submit the application for a job offer confirmation. In rendering an opinion, HRSDC evaluators will consider the following factors:

  • Reasonable efforts to hire Canadians for the position
    • Employers are expected to have made Canadians aware of the position and considered them first for employment. Only when Canadians are unavailable, unqualified or cannot be trained for the position in a reasonable amount of time will HRSDC render a favorable opinion of the job offer.
  • Potential labour disputes
    • All relevant unions and professional associations must be consulted with respect to the potential employment of a foreign worker. A letter proving this must be attached to the application. Additionally, the employment of the foreign worker must not adversely affect the settlement of any labour dispute in progress or the employment of any person involved in that dispute.
  • Job creation
    • A position that is likely to help job creation or job retention for Canadian citizens or permanent residents will have more chances of being approved.
  • Transfer of skills
    • Workers who are likely to transfer skills and knowledge for the benefit of Canadians or permanent residents will be favored.
  • Labour shortage
    • Consideration will be given to whether the worker is likely to fill a labour shortage in the Canadian market because of shortage of skills or manpower.
  • Wages and working conditions
    • The wages and working conditions offered must be sufficient to attract Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and retain them in that work. Jobs offering less than adequate remuneration will not be approved.

Additional consideration may be given to the following factors:

  • Why the foreign worker is needed. This is the most important point the employer must address; company profitability, the employee’s skills, and positive spill-over effects on Canadians will have to be discussed.
  • Whether the employer has fired many people in the 12 months preceding the application. This may be proof that Canadians, rather than foreign workers, can be hired to fill this position.
  • Whether the employment is regulated by an agency. In such a case, potential workers will need to be duly qualified.
  • How the position was filled in the past. Only where there is a shortage of qualified Canadian workers will approval be granted. Additionally, employers must explain the relation of the position to be filled with other positions at the place pf employment.
  • Whether the employer is planning to eventually train Canadians to fill the position concerned.

Positions in Quebec

  • To work in Quebec temporarily, it is generally necessary for an employer to obtain both HRSDC and “Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l’Immigration du Québec” (MRCIQ) approval and confirmation of the employment being offered to the foreign worker. Applications must be made to both agencies. Only when both have granted
  • Approval can an application for a work permit be obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  • MRCIQ’s approval is known as a “Certificat d’Acceptation” (CAQ) and is based on similar factors than those considered by HRSDC. To render CAQ confirmations, consideration will also be given to the worker’s qualifications and ability to perform the tasks required by the offered job. CAQs are valid for up to 36 months.


  • Employer sends description of job offer to HRSDC for confirmation.
  • If in Quebec, employer also sends job offer description to the “Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l’Immigration du Québec” for additional provincial confirmation.
  • If granted, copies of any confirmations are sent to potential employee.

Potential employee attaches confirmation(s) to application for CIC work permit.

  • Employer sends description of job offer to HRSDC for confirmation.
  • If in Quebec, employer also sends job offer description to the “Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l’Immigration du Québec” for additional provincial confirmation.

Frequently asked questions:

To maintain authenticity and get you accurate answer, we request you to refer the official website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s FAQ area:


Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Canada has a public health care system commonly known as Medicare. This means that health insurance covering essential medical services is available to all permanent residents and Canadian citizens.

The federal government sets health-care standards for the whole country while the provincial ministries of health run the health care system. In general, Medicare is paid for through taxes. Two provinces (British Columbia and Alberta) however, charge premiums.

Read about:

  • How to get medical services
  • Applying for a provincial health insurance card
  • Medical services covered by Medicare
  • Medical services not covered by Medicare
  • Visiting or moving to a new province

How to get medical services

Medical services are available across Canada from hospitals, clinics, doctors and other health-care providers. When you receive medical services you need to show your provincial health card. If you do not have a provincial health card you will need to pay directly for the costs of the services.

Your telephone book lists doctors and other health-care providers under the headings “Physicians and Surgeons”.

Applying for a provincial health insurance card

Who is eligible for a health insurance card?

  • All Canadian citizens
  • All permanent residents

In some provinces temporary workers, students and some others in Canada on a temporary basis are also eligible.

Those claiming refugee status who are needy or living in a province with a three-month eligibility waiting period can get emergency or essential health-care services through the Interim Federal Health Program at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

How to apply for a health insurance card

To apply for a health insurance card you will need to apply to the ministry of health in the province or territory where you live. You can get an application form from the provincial ministry of health, or in any doctor?s office, hospital or pharmacy. Apply for your health insurance card as soon as possible after arriving in Canada.

You will need to show your birth certificate, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) and passport. You may also show your Permanent Resident Card. You may need to provide other documents showing your name, address and signature.

Please note that everyone in your family needs their own provincial health insurance card. Take their documents with you to the ministry of health office and ask about registering them.

When will your health insurance coverage begin?

In most provinces you will receive coverage as soon as you apply. Four provinces however, have a waiting period before you are eligible for a health card.

In British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick there is a three-month eligibility waiting period before your coverage begins.
Please note that during the eligibility waiting period, you should buy private health insurance.
Rules for temporary workers, students or other visitors also vary from province to province. Contact the ministry of health in your province for more information.Rules for temporary workers, students or other visitors also vary from province to province. Contact the ministry of health in your province for more information.

Medical services covered by Medicare

Health-care services covered by Medicare include:

  • Examination and treatment by family doctors
  • Many types of surgery
  • Most treatments by specialists
  • Hospital care
  • X-rays
  • Many laboratory tests
  • Most immunizations

Potential employee attaches confirmation(s) to the application for CIC work permit.

Medical services not covered by Medicare

Your public health insurance will only pay for essential or medically necessary services.

Health-care services not covered by Medicare, and for which you will have to pay include:

  • Ambulance services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental care
  • Glasses and contact lenses

Potential employee attaches confirmation(s) to an application for CIC work permit.

These services are sometimes covered by workplace benefits packages.
Some provinces do pay for non-medical services, such as prescription drugs. In some cases, both you and your province will pay a portion of the total cost.

Visiting or moving to a new province

Your health card is mainly for use in the province where you live. If you are visiting another province, your card can be used in an emergency.

If you are moving permanently to another province, reapply for a new provincial health card as soon as possible. There are waiting periods before your coverage begins in your new province, although the province you left will continue to provide coverage for a limited period of time.

If you are going to reside in a different province for a temporary period of time you should contact the provincial ministry of health office in your home province before you leave.

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