Health benefits in Canada – What is covered?

Both citizens and residents of Canada are lucky enough to be able to access a comprehensive public healthcare system. The public health system was founded based on the following key principles in the Canada Health Act:

–          Comprehensive – Outlines those services which must be provided under the public health system;

–          Universality – States that all insured services must be provided on uniform terms and conditions;

–          Portability – Allows for persons travelling outside of their home province to maintain coverage, and provides a starting part to determine which province will provide coverage when needed;

–          Public Administration – States that the plans must be administered on a non-profit basis, by a public authority. As such, each province has been assigned the duties of administration;

–          Accessibility – Provides that the insurance plan must be reasonably available, with access unimpeded by user charges/extra billing or other means (including age, health status or financial circumstances).

Many Canadians are well aware that the public health system exists, and provides basic coverage for services such as a doctor’s visit, or a trip to the emergency room. However, most residents of Canada (both permanent and temporary), as well as lifelong Canadians, are not aware of how their employer sponsored health and dental plan coordinates with the public system. To complicate matters further, each provincial health plan provides coverage for slightly different services, above and beyond what is required by the Canada Health Act.

There are great resources available, which provide additional information about the specific health benefits in your province. Please see two of these resources below – one from Benefits Canada, which explores how the public health system and your employer sponsored group benefit plan work together. In addition, the link to the Wikipedia page for the Canada Health Act provides an easy to read summary of the act itself, and may provide you with some added insight.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss the provincial health benefits available to you, please contact your PEO Canada benefits representative.


David Maltman / Team Lead, Benefits Services / PEO Canada


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