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What if you get sick in Canada as an international student?

Many international students are asking us: what is the health care like in Canada for international students? Should they be worried about the expenses?

Especially in a time of global health anxiety, this is when the Canadian system of health care is at its finest especially for international students. This is why.

#1 GETTING A CARD: Canadian medical care, its doctors and hospitals, just as with Canadian universities and colleges, are organized by province or territory. So, let’s say you are attending Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, BC. As an international student you will pay a small fee in the hundreds of dollars.

Your university or college will help you fill out the necessary forms. Soon after you arrive you will get a “health card” which is the same as what any Canadian uses. The health card will have a number that is attached to your name, as well as your photograph.

You can use this card anywhere in Canada. If you are a SMU student and get sick in Alberta, or a UNBC student who gets sick in Ontario – no problem. You don’t pay for your treatment in other provinces.

#2 HOW TO USE THE HEALTH CARD: With this health card you can now go to any doctor or any clinic or any hospital and show this card. You don’t have to pay anything no matter what happens. You will be asked for your card and you just show it just like you show a credit card. We hope you will be healthy but for any international student who is shocked to find out that she has an illness requiring even many surgeries, in Canada you won’t need to think about how to pay the expenses of treatment.

#3 WHAT ELSE? There is nothing else! It’s that simple, that relaxing, and that amazing! For parents of international students, relax, your children will not have emergency medical bills!

But if you want the view from an American who used to work in the US health care system believing the Canadian system was not good, watch the video you will find here at this tweet:

Are you an international student in Canada? Email us at We would love to hear about your experiences with the Canadian medical system.


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