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Health Care and Education in Canada

No matter whether you are considering living in the big city or prefer a rural area, the True North has a lot to offer. We provide you with information on how to master expat life in Canada, from a country profile to healthcare and education. Read more about all the relevant topics on InterNations!
Canoeing is only one of the many popular outdoor sports in Canada.

Different from the US: The Healthcare System

Canada has a publicly funded health insurance system, so-called “Medicare”, which is financed through taxes, fees and, in some provinces, monthly premiums. Every province and territory has its own health insurance plan and its own specific regulations. Generally, the public healthcare system ensures basic medical care for all citizens.

Additional treatments, such as dental care, prescription medication, and optician check-ups, have to be paid for by the patient. Many Canadian employers offer their employees additional healthcare coverage, for example, prescription drugs, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatment.

Expats whose work permit is valid for more than six months are usually included in the public healthcare system. Nevertheless, in some provinces there might be a waiting period of three months before newly arrived expats can be included in public healthcare coverage.

You’re Well Taken Care Of

The quality of healthcare in Canada is comparatively high, although it may vary from province to province. Waiting times, especially for specialist appointments and hospital treatments, may be quite long. However, the government has supplied additional funds and regulations aimed at reducing this problem.

Expats should begin to look for a family doctor or general practitioner shortly after their arrival. The doctor will be your primary contact in any health-related matters and may refer you to a specialist or a hospital if necessary.

Appealing Schooling Opportunities

Canada is an ideal destination for expats with younger children. Daycare opportunities are readily available throughout the country. Public schools, which expat children can attend for free, have scored highly in international student assessments such as the OECD PISA study. Almost all larger cities have day nurseries and private daycare opportunities. From the age of five, kids can attend kindergarten.

Due to provincial autonomy in cultural and educational matters, there is no single Canadian school system, and curricula vary tremendously in different provinces. Public elementary education and secondary schools are free of charge.

There are a number of private schools in Canada, which charge their students tuition fees, a few international schools in the bigger cities and a large number of schools belonging to specific religious denominations. The language of instruction in Canadian schools is mostly French in Québec and English in all other provinces.

What It’s Like to Go to School

Generally, mandatory schooling is divided into elementary school and secondary education. Elementary school includes grades 1 to 6 in most provinces, grades 1 to 7 in British Columbia, and grades 1 to 8 in Ontario.

While students in Ontario go on straight to high school (grades 9 to 12), the grades in between are taught at middle school or junior high in the other provinces. During high school, students can generally choose between courses preparing them for college or the workplace and courses aimed at preparing students for university admission.

The exception is Québec, where regular secondary schooling ends after grade 11 and students planning to go on to university need to complete another two-year program at a so-called Collège d’enseignement general et professionel (CEGEP).

Canada’s Renowned Universities

After graduating from high school, students have more than 90 Canadian colleges and universities to choose from. The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the McGill University in Montréal are among the most respected. Other students may decide to attend a community college or a vocational school or to apply for a full-time job right away.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Andrey Vasilyev

"When moving to a huge city such as Vancouver, InterNations made it easy for me to find fellow expats and the network that I needed."

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