The Canadian health-care system has evolved into a machine with a number of working parts. In addition to the information your employer provides, a number of government websites can help you through the maze of information available.

Canadian government health insurance is funded by our taxes and designed to ensure that everyone has reasonable access to medically necessary services. The program is made up of 13 interlocking provincial and territorial health insurance plans under the umbrella of the federal government’s Canada Health Act. The provinces and territorial governments look after the management, organization and delivery of health services for those living in their jurisdictions.

However, the government-run plans do not include all the health-care services you may need. Many of these services are included in the supplementary health plan you may belong to through your employer, group or association.

Several government websites at the federal and provincial/territorial levels can provide you with key information.

Federal government sites

  • The Health Canada website outlines everything from who is eligible for health care in Canada, to what happens to your benefits if you move to another province, to how to resume health-care coverage if you are out of the country following a lengthy absence and the importance of ensuring you have the proper coverage when travelling outside your province and outside Canada.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada focuses its activities on preventing chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease and preventing injuries. It also prepares for and responds to public health emergencies and infectious disease outbreaks, such as the flu or West Nile virus.
  • The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is the place to go if you’re looking for information on why you should buy insurance, the different types of insurance available, how to make an insurance claim and how to protect yourself from insurance scams.

Provincial sites

Each province also has information on topics such as how to obtain a health card, fair drug prices, home health care, addiction awareness, mental health issues, rehabilitation services, what happens if you lose your drug card, generic drugs, emergency care and tele-health services.

Keep your personal health cards close at hand

It is important to remember to carry your personal provincial health-care card with you at all times, whether you are heading to a regular appointment with your physician or in case of emergencies. Also remember to carry your employer’s group plan card and the cards for any other personal insurance you have, particularly if you are going out of your province or out of the country. Some facilities might also ask for photo identification. If you do not have this information, you may be asked to pay for health services before receiving them.