Fact Sheet - Canadian Health Care System
Canada has a predominantly publicly financed, privately delivered health care system, known as Medicare. Medicare provides Canadians access to universal, comprehensive coverage for medically necessary hospital, in-patient and out-patient physician services. The federal government, the provinces, and the territories share the responsibility of the health care system in Canada.

The federal government is responsible for:

  • Setting and administering national principles for the heath care system, through the Canada Heath Act;
  • Delivering direct health care services to specific groups including veterans, native Canadians, persons living on reserves, military personnel, inmates of federal penitentiaries and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
  • Fulfilling other health-related functions such as health protection, disease prevention, and health promotion.

The provincial and territorial governments are primarily responsible for the administration and delivery of the health care services, and for the planning, financing, and evaluating the provision of hospital care, physician and allied health care services, as well as managing some aspects of prescription care and public health. For example, the provinces decide where their hospitals will be located, how many physicians they will need, and how much money they will spend on their health care systems. Another example of a provincial responsibility are the health insurance cards.


The provincial and territorial health ministries are regulated by what the federal government has created as the national standard, the Canada Health Act. With the condition that these standards are met, the provincial government receives full federal cash transfer contribution under the transfer mechanism, that is, the Canada Health and Social Transfer.??


The stated goal of the Canadian health insurance program is to ensure that all Canadians receive reasonable access to medically necessary insured services without direct charges.

There are two groups of services covered by the?Canada Health Act.?

  1. Insured health care services are medically necessary hospital services, physician services and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons; and
  2. Extended health care services covered by the Canada Health Act?are: certain aspects of long-term residential care (nursing home intermediate care and adult residential care services); and the health aspects of home care and ambulatory care services.


Selected resources:

Canada's Provincial and Territorial Health Ministries

Canadian Social Research

A selection of links with information about the future of health care in Canada?

Health Canada Home

Health Canada Online/Canada Health Act

The Romanov Comission

Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada- appointed by the federal government of Canada to make ?recommendations on sustaining a publicly-funded health system that balances investments in prevention and health maintenance with those directed to care and treatment.?

Tommy Douglas Research Institute

An independent non-profit Canadian economic and social research and educational organization. The organization?s ?objective is the redirection of public attention to the respective role of both the large business sector and governments in providing for the well-being of Canadians.?

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