Travel to Canada

19/07/2013 -- Mary Simpson
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Medical and Health

"Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel...The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors." Foreign Office Travel Advice

Doctors and Dentists

Canada has one of the best health care systems in the world. Like its neighbour the USA, it’s also one of the most expensive.

Although publicly funded through the Medicare programme, most doctors and dentists operate privately and charge per consultation/visit.

In some areas, doctors and dentists expect payment in cash.  Treatment costs vary depending on which province/territory you’re visiting. 

Some surgeries provide scans, x-rays and blood tests on the premises. 

Dental work is expensive everywhere, ditto eye care.

Hospital Treatment and Ambulance Costs

Most hospitals have Emergency Rooms to deal with critical conditions (eg heart attack) but some don’t. 

Not all hospitals operate 24 hours a day. The 911 phone service can direct you to the nearest, or dial ‘0’ for the operator.

Have your credit card ready or be prepared to sign a payment plan that could take years to pay off.

A visit to the Emergency Room in Vancouver, for example, can cost from $750 – this doesn’t include ambulance, doctor’s fees, x-rays or treatment. As a hospital in-patient you could be billed $3,230 per day ($8,120 for intensive care).

Most hospitals also run outpatient services for minor emergencies, and there are walk-in clinics in most cities and towns. 

A visit to a walk-in clinic could cost anything from $100 - $400.

Ambulance:  Expensive.  Costs can range from $240 in Ontario to $1,067 in Nova Scotia.  For helicopter transport, anything from $2,500 per hour.


You’ll find pharmacies in drug store chains, large grocery stores and shopping malls. Dispensing fees vary according to province/territory. 

Prescription medicine can be expensive, especially specialist drugs for a chronic, existing medical condition.

See What Can Go Wrong if in doubt about whether you need Medical Emergency Expenses travel insurance cover for Canada.

Foreign Office Travel Advice