British Columbia Healthcare System

It is very important to get coverage for healthcare as it can be very expensive once you start using services not covered or buying prescription drugs.

Residents of British Columbia are eligible for Medical Services Plan (MSP) which is funded by the Government of British Columbia and insures basic medical services provided by physicians, laboratory services and diagnostic procedures.

All residents of British Columbia must register under the MSP, as a new resident of B.C there is a waiting period of three months before you qualify. During this period you should find alternative medical insurance to ensure you are covered. Once your application has been processed you will receive a care card with your personal health number which you should carry at all times.

The Healthcare Premiums for MSP are based on your family size and income.

Also available in British Columbia is Pharmacare , this plan subsidizes eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies protecting B.C residents from high drug costs. The way this works, is the lower your income the more assistance the government provides. To qualify for Pharmacare you must first be registered with the Medical Services Plan. As this is based on you annual income you will need to provide proof of earnings for the previous year.

As a New Resident you will be required to provide proof of your previous income. The link we have provided goes to the information and forms you will require. Please note that you should definitely keep all your previous 3 years proof of income certificates (P60 in the UK) as these will also be needed for calculating any child tax credits (if applicable).

As the MSP only covers basic medical costs it is highly recommended that you have additional coverage. Dental care and even a trip in an ambulance can be very expensive. Health benefit packages are sometimes offered by employers or alternatively you can purchase you own.

Health Issues

As a whole there are very few serious healthcare issues in Canada. The two major illnesses that have hit the headlines are the SARS outbreak (2003) and the continued threat of West Nile Virus.

SARS originates form the Far East (China in particular) and the main outbreaks were in Toronto and Vancouver. Several residents contracted the illness through Far Eastern travel.

With the arrival of the summer comes the Mosquito. Unfortunately mosquito's are everywhere - especially near water - and some carry the West Nile Virus that is known to cause illness in humans to varying degrees. It does seem that the younger you are the less prone to the effects, though this is by no means clinically proven.

The best protection is to avoid being bitten in the first place, so wear long sleeves and pants (trousers) with a good quality repellant. The best one we have found is "Deep Woods Off" that also comes in a kids formula. Stay away from bodies of still or stagnant water especially around evening time when they are most active.

If you feel the symptoms (see link above) see a doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible.