Canada Healthcare and Travel Policies

Canada’s national health insurance program is designed to ensure that all residents have access to medically necessary hospital and physician services, on a prepaid basis. Instead of having a single national plan, we have a national program that is composed of 13 interlocking provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common features and basic standards of coverage.

Provincial Healthcare Plans and Travel Policies

Roles and responsibilities for Canada’s health care system are shared between the federal and provincial-territorial governments. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the management, organization and delivery of health services for their residents. Learn more about each province’s healthcare eligibility, travel rules and regulations by clicking on the tabs below for each province…

To maintain eligibility for Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage, an individual must continue to meet the residency requirements. Eligible B.C. residents (citizens of Canada or persons who are lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence) who are outside B.C. for vacation purposes only, are allowed a total absence of up to 7 months in a calendar year.

In some circumstances, while temporarily outside the province for work or vacation, individuals may retain eligibility for coverage during an ‘extended absence’ of up to 24 consecutive months, once in a 60 month (five year) period. To qualify, the individual must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a person lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence;
  • make his or her home in British Columbia;
  • be physically present in Canada for six of the 12 months immediately preceding departure;
  • not have been granted an extended absence in the previous 60 months (five years);
  • not have taken advantage of the seven month absence in a calendar year, available to vacationers, during the year the extended absence begins or during the calendar year prior to the start of the extended absence; and
  • not have returned to the province for more than 30 consecutive days during their extended absence.

If an individual returns to B.C. for over 30 consecutive days during an extended absence, their absence is no longer considered to be consecutive and any subsequent absence would be considered a new absence. The individual will need to contact Health Insurance BC to determine their eligibility for benefits during their new absence.

Residents who leave B.C. temporarily without suspended coverage will continue to be billed for premiums. Although it is recommended that residents maintain their provincial health care coverage, certain individuals may qualify to suspend their coverage during a temporary absence. If a request to suspend coverage is received prior to departure, the person’s coverage is suspended at the end of the month of departure. If the request is received after the month of departure, suspension is effective at the end of the month notification is received. Coverage is renewed the first day of the month in which the person returns, provided that they remained an eligible resident during their absence.

If an individual stays outside B.C. longer than the period for which they were eligible for coverage, they will be required to fulfill a wait period upon re-establishing residence in the province before coverage can be renewed.

Residents should be aware that their provincial coverage may not pay for all the health care costs incurred outside the province, and the difference can be substantial. For example, B.C. pays $75 (CDN) a day for emergency in-patient hospital care, while the average cost in the U.S. often exceeds $1,000 (US) a day, and can be as high as $10,000 (US) a day in intensive care. For this reason, residents are strongly advised to purchase additional health insurance from a private insurer before leaving the province, whether they are going to another part of Canada or outside the country – even if they plan to be away for only a day.

Visit British Columbia Medical Services for more information: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health

If you are physically present in Alberta for at least 183 days in a 12 month period, you remain eligible for continued AHCIP coverage.

Alberta Health covers only limited physician and hospital costs outside of Canada. It is strongly recommended that Albertans obtain private supplementary insurance when outside the province or outside Canada, as costs for services can be much higher than in Alberta.

The rate for in-patient hospital services is $100 (Canadian) per day, not including the day of discharge. The rate for outpatient services is $50 (Canadian) per day, with a limit of one visit per day. These hospital services rates are the maximum that is reimbursed for all services provided to a patient, such as room and board, nursing, laboratory and x-ray services, medical supplies and prescription drugs.

Insured hospital services must be provided by a general or auxiliary hospital. Hospital services provided in a private health facility are not eligible for reimbursement. The AHCIP does not cover food, lodging or other travel expenses.

Alberta Health covers only limited physician and hospital costs outside of Canada. It is strongly recommended that Albertans obtain private supplementary insurance when outside the province or outside Canada, as costs for services can be much higher than in Alberta.

Visit Alberta Health for more information: https://www.alberta.ca

If your home is in Saskatchewan and you normally live in the province for at least 5 months a year, then you are eligible for Saskatchewan health coverage.

Costs for hospital services outside of Canada may be much higher than in Saskatchewan. You will be responsible for paying the difference between the full amount charged and the amount Saskatchewan Health covers. We recommend you to obtain additional health insurance when traveling outside the country.

You are required to notify Health Registries when you will be on an extended absence of more than 5 months.

You should report your absence from Saskatchewan for the following situations:

  • Attending full-time studies at an accredited educational institute, and intend to return upon completion of your studies. You must provide your graduation date and confirmation of full-time enrollment;
  • Away for the purpose of vacation, visit, business engagement or employment for up to 12 months;
  • Away on an employment contract outside of Canada for a maximum of 24 months.

To update Health Registries about your extended absence, go online (recommended) or complete the Notification of Extended Absence Form.

Following an extended absence from the province, you need to contact Health Registries to ensure your Saskatchewan health services card is still active and you are eligible for benefits. To update Health Registries about your return, go online (recommended) or complete the Notification of Extended Absence Form.

Visit eHealth Saskatchewan for more information: https://www.ehealthsask.ca/

To be eligible for Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or have immigration status as a Permanent Resident or Work Permit holder, and
  • Establish a permanent residence in Manitoba, and
  • Reside (physically) in Manitoba six months in a calendar year

If you are planning to reside outside of Manitoba for an extended period for the purposes of vacation or an extended travel leave, you can be absent from the province for up to 7 months and remain eligible for Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage.

To ensure that you continue to have uninterrupted coverage from Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage during your extended absence, you should report any expected absence of 90 days or more in a 12-month period to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living prior to your departure. You can notify Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living by providing the following prior to your departure:

A letter, e-mail to [email protected], or completed Request for Temporary out-of-Province Benefits form pdf providing your full name, permanent Manitoba address and temporary new address, the date of departure and expected date of return to Manitoba, Manitoba Health number, and the names of any family members accompanying you.

Additionally, if you wish to apply for a Temporary Out-of- Province Registration Certificate to ensure uninterrupted coverage during your stay outside of the province (and limited coverage for out-of country medical and hospital services), you may complete a Request for Temporary out-of-Province Benefits form.

Visit Manitoba Health for more information: https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mhsip/

You may be out of the province for up to 212 days in any 12-month period and still maintain your Ontario health insurance coverage provided that you continue to make Ontario your primary place of residence.

To maintain eligibility for OHIP coverage you must be an eligible resident of Ontario. This means that you must :

  • have an OHIP-eligible citizenship/immigration status; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after establishing residency in the province; and
  • make your primary place of residence in Ontario.

If you will be out of the province for more than 212 days in any 12-month period,

you can keep your OHIP coverage for up to 2 years if you:

  • have a valid health card
  • make Ontario your primary home
  • will be in Ontario for at least 153 days a year in each of the two years immediately before you leave the country

Visit Ontario Heathcare OHIP for more information: https://www.ontario.ca/page/health-care-ontario

Persons who have already taken up or who are taking up residence in Québec must be present in Québec 183 days or more per calendar year (January 1 to December 31) to remain eligible. Certain absences are not tallied:

  • absences of 21 consecutive days or less
  • days of departure and return

Exceptions may apply for a prolonged absence if you are outside Québec, for instance, to pursue studies, work or training.

Visit Quebec Heathcare for more information: https://www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca/en/citizens/health-insurance

It is recommended that in all instances of temporary leave (30 days or more), residents notify New Brunswick Medicare in order to maintain Medicare eligibility and ensure there is no delay in payment should they require and receive physician and/or hospital services during their absence.

Permanent New Brunswick residents who plan to be temporarily absent from New Brunswick for a vacation or visit remain insured during their absence, provided they have lived in New Brunswick for at least 5 months (153 days – consecutive or not) during a 12 month period. If this criterion has been met, then residents may be temporarily absent from New Brunswick for up to 212 days for vacation or visits.

New Brunswick Medicare can also offer up to 12 months coverage once every three years from the time of return. This involves a written request submitted to the Director of Medicare. If the leave exceeds 12 months, residents must reapply for Medicare coverage upon their return.

Visit New Brunswick Heathcare for more information: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/health.html

As of August 1, 2014 Nova Scotia residents are permitted out of the province for vacation by one additional month. This will allow Nova Scotians to have a vacation outside of the province for 7 months in each calendar year and continue to be eligible for Medical Services Insurance (MSI). Vacationers are required to inform MSI of their absence by telephoning 902-496-7008 (local) or 1-800-563-8880 (toll-free) or submitting an email to [email protected].

If you are traveling outside Canada for a short period of time MSI will provide coverage for emergency medical services only.
1. Out-of-country in-patient hospitalization as the result of an accident or sudden illness while temporarily absent from Canada, is covered in Canadian funds. The current rate for emergency in-patient services is $525CDN. Per day plus 50% of ancillary fees incurred while an in-patient. Physician Services, as the result of an accident or sudden illness during a temporary absence from Canada are covered in Canadian funds at Nova Scotia rates.

2. The following services are not payable under the MSI program.

  • Facility and Hospital Out-Patient charges
  • X-Ray, diagnostic tests and laboratory charges from Out-Patient, Emergency or Private Facility
  • Pharmacare and Childrens Dental Programs
  • Routine Vision Analysis

The balance of an account after payment by the Department may be quite large. It is strongly recommended that any resident traveling out of province purchase a Travel Health Plan for the period of absences to cover these balances and other insured services.

Ambulance Services rendered outside Nova Scotia are not subsidized and are therefore the patients responsibility.

All claims must be received by the department /MSI for payment within six months of the date of the discharge from the hospital to be eligible for payment. No claims received after the lapse of six months will be considered.

Visit Nova Scotia Heathcare for more information: https://novascotia.ca/dhw/

A PEI Health Card is issued to every PEI resident. You are considered to be a resident of PEI if:

  • you are legally in Canada; and
  • PEI is your primary residence for at least six months plus a day each year.

If you temporarily leave PEI for travel, study or work, your PEI Health Card will cover you for emergency or sudden-illness health care services. You are strongly encouraged to purchase additional private insurance for health coverage while outside Canada.

Please note any of the following out-of-province circumstances that may apply to you:

  • Travel within Canada: Notify PEI Medicare if your absence will exceed one month to help avoid any delay in payment for an out-of-province service. Provide your departure and return dates, destination and reason for absence. For example, an extended winter vacation or a sabbatical leave.
  • Travel outside Canada: The cost for medical services outside Canada may be considerably higher and you will be required to pay medical costs up front. You will be reimbursed at PEI rates in Canadian currency; however, you will be responsible to pay the difference between the amount charged and the amount paid by PEI Medicare. Submit your detailed invoice and proof of payment to PEI Medicare within six months of the date of service.
  • Out-of-province students: Island students who will be studying outside of the province must notify PEI Medicare of their plans at the beginning of each school year to ensure they have appropriate medical coverage. If you will be studying within Canada and have a valid PEI Health Card, you will be insured for emergency health services or sudden illness care. Such emergency care includes visiting an emergency department or walk-in clinic for a sudden or life-threatening illness, and being admitted to hospital for an emergency procedure or treatment.Non-emergency care such as elective surgeries and treatments, or treatment for a chronic condition or ailment requires prior approval from Health PEI for the service to be insured.
  • Off-Island employment: If PEI is your primary residence and your job requires you to live and work out-of-province or outside of Canada for an extended period of time, you must notify PEI Medicare to ensure you have appropriate medical coverage.

Visit PEI Heathcare for more information: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/health-pei

Medical Care Plan (MCP) will provide coverage under the Medical Care Plan (MCP) to beneficiaries who temporarily leave Newfoundland and Labrador. Coverage under the Hospital Insurance Plan will also be provided, however, the Department of Health and Community Services can provide more information on the services insured outside Newfoundland and Labrador. Coverage under the Dental Health Plan is not available outside Newfoundland and Labrador.

To ensure that coverage remains intact while outside Newfoundland and Labrador, an Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate should be obtained from Medical Care Plan (MCP). This provides a maximum of twelve months’ out-of-province coverage to eligible beneficiaries, with the following qualifications:

  • Beneficiaries leaving for vacation purposes may receive an initial Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate for up to twelve months’ coverage. The normal four month residency requirement must be met immediately following their return to Newfoundland and Labrador. Further Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate’s will only be issued to provide up to eight months’ coverage.
  • Beneficiaries leaving for work purposes (temporarily absent workers) may receive an Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate for up to twelve months’ coverage. Beneficiaries who are working outside of the country may renew their Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate each year to provide up to three years’ out-of-province coverage. A letter from the employer, on letterhead, stating the dates of employment is required.
  • Beneficiaries leaving for study purposes may receive an Out-of-Province Coverage Certificate for up to twelve months’ coverage. This is renewable each year if a newly completed form and updated proof of enrolment in an educational institution is received. Approval is conditional upon the beneficiary’s intention to return to Newfoundland and Labrador upon completion of the program of study.

All permanent residents of the NWT are eligible for coverage. “Permanent resident” means a person who is legally entitled to remain in Canada and who makes his or her home in (and is ordinarily present in) the NWT for at least six months plus a day (183 days) of the year.

If you will be outside of the NWT for more than 3 months for any reason (going to school, medical, work or just travelling), you need to complete the temporary absence form to make sure that you are still covered.

Please inform us on any change in your status as this is important in receiving health services. Make sure that your health care registration information is current.

If you require medical care while traveling outside of Canada, your NWT Health Insurance may only cover a portion of your health care costs. Services received outside of Canada will be reimbursed at NWT rates. You are responsible for any additional costs.

It is recommended that you get travel insurance when travelling outside of the NWT to cover you for the duration of your trip.