How to get the services you need


Free and low-cost services

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The costs of some services are covered by health insurance and others aren’t—it’s very important to make sure you know the costs before you start seeing a service provider. If you are not able to pay a lot for services, you might want to search for free and sliding-scale services.

If this is important to you, you may want to ask your service provider the following questions:

  • Do you offer low-cost or sliding-scale services?
  • What is the lowest amount that I would have to pay?
  • How do you calculate how much I’ll have to pay?
  • Are any costs covered by provincial/territorial insurance?
  • Do you accept private health insurance?
  • Do you have services for newcomers and refugees without health insurance?
  • I am First Nations but I don’t have a Status Card. Can you connect me with someone who can help me apply?

Health insurance in Canada

Some services are available without a health card and at no cost. Others ask for provincial or private insurance, or you’ll need to pay for them yourself.

Provincial and territorial health insurance is available to all Canadian citizens living in the province or territory. Permanent residents and people with other residency situations can also apply for it. For newcomers and refugees, there may be a waiting period.

Most insurance plans don’t provide much or any coverage for medication or visits to counsellors or therapists. For more information, see: and

Costs that aren’t covered by provincial or territorial plans might be covered by private insurance. Private insurance plans are ones that people choose and pay for themselves, get as part of their job or university benefits, or get through a family member's or partner’s benefits.

A Non-Insured Health Benefits Program for people who are First Nations or Inuit is also available. For more information on this program, see:

Key messages

  • Sometimes, getting to services may be difficult. Try letting the service know your concerns. They may have options that will help you access the service.
  • Once you have an appointment, be sure to find out the service provider’s cancellation policy, just in case you ever need to cancel an appointment.
  • Find out what services and medication your health card covers. You can also look for free and low-cost services in your area.

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