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Health and support services in Canada 

Here’s a lowdown on the support services available for you!

It can be a little challenging to cope with the changes in your environment when you move to Canada for the first time. With a new set of customs and norms, adjusting into the culture takes a little time, and you may need some assistance to absorb it all smoothly. Don’t worry if you struggle to adjust, or feel alienated or unhealthy, there are a range of support services available to help you out. 

In case you get hassled at any point, you can reach out to: 

Pre-arrival support guide 

Many institutions offer a pre-arrival support guide that includes details of medical insurance available, accommodation options, strategies to budget living expenses in Canada and other necessary details to settle in.

Campus support services 

Dedicated to support international students via various orientations and programs. These may include supportive and educational workshops, cultural celebrations and academic support. Sometimes, they also help with student accommodation and employment/internship opportunities. 

Support for students with disabilities

Most institutions have their own student associations, which help international students manage their various activities along with academics. Some universities also have a dedicated international student association to offer unbiased support to students from another country. 

For instance, the University of Calgary has a Newcomers & International Students’ Committee that ensures all inter-cultural students have a voice in front of both the Graduate Students Association and the university’s administration.

Student associations off campus 

Various student associations outside of campus work for the welfare of national and international students. For instance, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations are two great resources to reach out to in case of any assistance. 

Student associations off campus 

Most universities and institutions offer special support to international students with disabilities, but it is best to communicate the same at the time of application to discuss if any special arrangements need to be made for you. 

If you are studying in Ontario, you can also make use of communability, an online portal for post-secondary students with disabilities across the province.

International Student Stay facility 

Some Canadian universities such as the University of Waterloo provide accommodation to its international students between the end of exams in December and commencement of classes in January. This initiative is called as the ‘December International Student Stay Program’

Legal aid clinics 

Some issues ranging from landlord negotiations to immigration advice need a legal magnifying glass. In Canada, there are legal aid clinics for international students, who can’t afford advice from legal authorities i.e., lawyer or consultant. 

Mental health support associations 

Canadian government not only weighs importance to physical health but for them, mental health is also of utmost importance to them. Given this, they have certain associations such as The Canadian Mental Health Association,, The Jed Foundation, Crisis Services Canada and The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) that handles specialised mental problems. 

Make sure you have a health insurance

While most universities and colleges also provide with health insurance facilities to international students, you might have to arrange for it on your own if your institution doesn’t provide one before your departure. Discuss with your IDP counsellor for details regarding your best health insurance options in Canada.

We recommend you get registered with a local doctor or a medical centre located in your campus when you arrive in the country.

In an emergency

If you happen to face any emergency, call the toll-free number 911. This is a common number that can be used for fire, police or ambulance. In Canada, interpreters are available in case you are not able to explain in English.

A great way to come prepared to face various challenges of settling into a new country is by attending one of our pre-departure sessions, where we prepare you for your life in Canada before you leave. These sessions are free to attend. Just walk into any of your nearest IDP offices to know more.  


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Updated on June 24, 2020

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