What are the health and support services available in Canada?
Here’s a lowdown on the support services available for you!
Moving to a new country isn’t always easy. That’s why most universities, colleges and education institutions offer dedicated support services to help international students adjust to life in Canada and make the most of your study (and holiday) time.
The Canadian Federation of Students and Canadian Alliance of Student Associations are also great resources – you can visit their websites to find out more about how they help students, and advocate to government on your behalf.
Staying healthy while you study
You might find yourself in need of medical support while living in Canada.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents access health services through the country’s public healthcare system, but it’s up to the individual provinces to determine if temporary residents like international students receive the same benefits. It’s likely you will need some sort of public or private health insurance plan to minimise waiting periods or exceptions.
If you are bringing medication with you to Canada, you should also carry a letter or prescription from your doctor, and double check the Government of Canada website for any extra requirements before leaving.
In case you get hassled at any point, you can reach out to:
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.
Student associations on campus
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 associations 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
There are various student associations outside of campus that work for the welfare of national and international students. For instance, the Canadian Federation of Students and Canadian Alliance of Student Associations are two great resources to reach out to in case of any assistance.
Support for students with disabilities
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, a social networking website for post-secondary students with disabilities across the province.
Your local doctor will be able to provide confidential, basic healthcare if you’re sick, and also help prevent future health issues. They can also refer you to a specialist if needed.
Finding a local doctor
To find a local doctor, you can:
- Ask someone you know
- Contact an immigration support service
- Contact a community health centre in your area to see who is available
- Visit a walk-in medical clinic.
Visiting a dentist
The best way to find a dentist is usually by searching online or asking someone you know. Remember, dental care is not available for free under government health insurance, so you might want to arrange extra insurance to cover any dental costs.
What to do in an emergency
If you need urgent medical help, you need to go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital or call 911.
It’s free to call 911 and all emergency medical services are free in hospitals. Depending on where you live and your situation, there may be a fee for the ambulance service.
If you have a serious medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or allergies to medication, you might wish to wear a medical necklace or bracelet with your medical information on it.
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