10 Things to Know About

Canadian International Patients


Everyone might know a little something about the Canadian health system and their patients: the great treatment that they can access within the public funded hospitals and how low their health costs are. But how about the not-so-sunny-side of their health system?

We did some research because we have seen that medical tourism is rising very much in Canada and wanted to see what drives Canadians to go abroad for healthcare. Below are some of the interesting facts that we found out. 

Medical Tourism Canada


1. Public health care in Canada

Public health care in Canada is for the most part publicly funded, but most of the health services are provided by private enterprises. The Canadian public health care system is governed by the Canada Health Act, a federal legislation that makes sure all eligible people have reasonable access to insured health services on a prepaid basis. The Canada Health Act contains some conditions, so the health care must be: portable, universal, accessible, free from extra charges.


2. Private health care

Private health care covers basic services, but there are many other services that are not covered, such as dental care, optometrists, most cosmetic procedures.


Medical Tourists Canada

3. Canadians' Health Fund

Canadians spending on health/per capita (2012) – $ 4666


4. Risk factors

Alcohol, Tobacco


5. Mortality and burden of disease

HIV, Tuberculosis, Non-communicable diseases


6. Waiting time

Life-threatening cases are dealt with immediately.

  • The average wait time in Canada to see a specialty doctor is a little over four weeks with 89.5% of patients waiting under 90 days*;

  • The average waiting time for diagnostic services such as MRI and CAT scans is two weeks, with 86.4% of those patients waiting under 90 days*;

  • The average waiting time for surgery is four weeks with 82.2% waiting under 90 days*.

*Data from World Health Organization


Health problems in Canada

7. Cancer

Health Canada is continuously monitoring this disease, identifying the trends and the risk factors, developing programs to reduce cancer risks, and undertaking research to evaluate risks from the environment and behaviors.

Risk factors:

Tobacco Use is the no. 1 cause of almost 30 per cent of all fatal cancers in Canada and a major cause of lung cancer, one of the preventable cancers;

Poor Diet - one with a high proportion of dietary fat - causes about 20% of fatal cancers. Colon and prostate cancers are associated with diets high in fat;

Other Risks:  workplace hazards, family history, alcohol use, reproductive factors, sexual activity, sunlight, drugs, and ionizing radiation.

Most popular types of cancer in Canada: breast cancer for women; prostate cancer for men.

8. Heart and stroke

Stroke is the NUMBER ONE killer in Canada. It is also the most costly disease in Canada.

Risk factors: Smoking; Physical Inactivity; Stress; A family history of heart disease; Being overweight.


9. Obesity

The number of Canadians who are overweight has increased dramatically. Subsequently, obesity is also an important risk factor in a number of chronic diseases.


10. Medical Tourism and Canadians

Canadians travel abroad for medical care for five reasons:

  • Quicker access to care (shorter waiting period)
  • Higher quality care
  • Ability to afford out-of-country costs
  • Access to services not approved/not available in Canada
  • Cosmetic Surgery.

Canadian Medical Tourism

The most common procedures for which Canadians decide to travel abroad for are:

  • Weight Loss
  • Dental
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Fertility
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Chronic disease treatment

Because the Canadians spend so little on healthcare per capita per year, few Canadians can afford the high price of care at US medical centers. Therefore, they tend to opt for proper treatments in affordable destinations, such as Mexico, Costa Rica and other Latin American destinations for dental and cosmetic procedures due to their proximity to the US.                                          

No system is perfect. We suppose everyone is aware that there is always room for improvement. In the case of Canada and the flaws of their health system, medical tourism has proved to be a reasonable solution and many other patients in developed countries are seeing medical tourism as a way to maximize the health funds.

The question is: How will this push the Canadian government to improve their health system? We are sure the answer is not very far.

For more information about Medical Tourism in Canada

click the button below.

Canadian Medical Tourism Contact

Alexandra Brad