Canada

The answer again depends on which Province or Territory the work permit or study permit holder will reside, and for temporary residents there are more conditions and criteria to satisfy.

A temporary resident who holds a work permit valid for requisite minimum duration AND who will reside and work for that requisite duration in the same province/territory, will typically be deemed eligible for that provincial/territorial health plan.  The minimum requisite period differs between regional jurisdictions, the norm being six or 12 months. 

Also, there are exceptions and special cases relating to certain types or ‘classes’ of work permit.  The variable cases are too many to list here, but for example in certain provinces a “Working Holiday” permit/visa holder would need to present the ministry of health with a copy of the work permit AND a copy of an employment contract indicating an employment period of a minimum duration. 

Study permit holders face even greater variations across Canada in terms of Medicare eligibility. 

Certain jurisdictions:

  • Never offer Medicare to international students.
  • Offer Medicare only if the student is registered for a scholastic program longer than 12 months.
  • Only offer coverage after the student has resided with study permit for 12 continuous months in the province or territory.
  • Let international students on Medicare immediately or after that jurisdiction’s standard waiting period, if they possess a study permit valid for six months or longer. 

Provinces can also change their policy toward study permit holders, as international students studying in Manitoba can attest to. Effective September 1, 2018, Manitoba Health implemented new eligibility criteria which made international students ineligible for coverage, regardless of their duration of permit or study permit.

Given the grave importance of the matter, Canadian education institutions that welcome (and recruit) international students make information about health care coverage in Canada a prominent topic in admissions and orientation communications.

Many (but not all) Canadian schools procure a group health plan specifically to cover international students who face either ineligibility or a waiting period for Medicare. 

Additional noteworthy points

Work permit and study permit holders who are eligible for Medicare would typically face the same enrolment timeline as permanent residents, vis a vis imposition of a waiting period, or not.

Essential to note is that a temporary resident’s Medicare coverage expires when his or her work or study permit expires. Temporary residents must provide their local health plan administrator up to date immigration documents to maintain active coverage. 

Those who remain in Canada with “implied status” while waiting on a new immigration document are treated differently in different provinces. 

  • In some jurisdictions a temporary extension of Medicare coverage is offered if a resident with “implied status” requests it with proof of having applied for a new work/study permit prior to expiration of the previous permit
  • In some jurisdictions the ministry of health offers no such extensions, leaving that person responsible to pay for hospital and medical services until such time eligibility and enrollment for Medicare coverage is restored. 

Thus, in the same way temporary residents need to buy private medical coverage for a Medicare waiting period, they also should be prepared to buy temporary medical insurance for gaps between work/study permits.

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