Healthcare in Canada

The 20% to 30% of Canadians who live in rural areas face many different lifestyle routines compared to urban city dwellers, one of which is access to health care. The fact is the majority of Canadian health care resources exist in urban centres, leaving rural residents having to travel on average 60 km to visit a family doctor (with some travelling much further in remote communities).

The Canadian health care system is organized so that each provincial or territorial government is responsible for administering its own health care to its population. Each of these independent governments recognizes the difficulty their rural residents face and have undertaken measures to improve their health care access.

The expanded health care services and resources provided will depend on the province or territory in which you reside, as well as your location within the individual province or territory.

Examples of mobile or in-home health care services that may be offered in your rural area could include:

  • disease screening programs (e.g., breast cancer screening)
  • dialysis
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • psychiatric services
  • wound and skin care
  • intravenous administration of medicines
  • senior support

One of the biggest rural health care initiatives now implemented in all provinces and territories is called TeleHealth. The TeleHealth program allows patients to dial a number and connect with nurses and doctors remotely, who will provide a variety of services that include:

  • diagnosing a medical condition
  • treating a condition
  • educating the patient
  • monitoring a disease condition

In the event of a medical emergency, you should still call 9-1-1, but TeleHealth will meet your other medical needs, which could mean:

  • saving time away from home and work
  • saving money for your travel expenses
  • getting care in your own community
  • wide access to specialists
  • faster response times for medical tests and consultations with specialists
  • the potential for having "face to face" meeting by video conference with your local health care provider and specialists at the same time

Contact your provincial or territorial governmental health care agency for more information on what services are available to you in your rural location.