Manitoba Health Care basics for newcomers

A health care worker holding the hand of a patient

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One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Manitoba is to apply for your Manitoba Health card. You don’t know when you’ll be sick or need medical help. Your health card is your key to getting health care services for you and your family.

Manitoba’s health care system is a broad network of services and programs. It is publicly-funded, which means that you don’t have to pay for necessary medical and hospital services.

5 important facts you need to know:

  1. Who can apply?

    You can apply for health coverage if you are:

    • a permanent resident
    • a convention refugee or protected person (as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)
    • in Manitoba on a valid work permit (of 12 consecutive months or more)
    • the spouse and minor child of a work permit holder

    For a complete list of those eligible and not eligible to apply, go to: Who is eligible for Manitoba Health coverage

    In addition, you have to make Manitoba your home, meaning you have to be physically present in Manitoba six months (183 days) in a calendar year to be eligible.

  2. How to apply

    You can register online, in person, or by mail.

    The Register for a Manitoba Health Card page has easy, step-by-step instructions you can follow to register. You would need to present documents or copies of documents to show your status and proof of residence. These are documents like your landing document and a copy of your lease agreement (there are other documents you can present instead, please check the link). You would also need to fill out a registration form.

    If you need to update or replace your health card, go to this page: Update your Manitoba Health Card.

    To see how a Manitoba Health Card looks like, go to Health Card Information.

  3. What does it cover?

    Your health coverage allows you to see a doctor, get a prescription, visit a hospital emergency room, or use other health services. However, services such as private nursing, routine eye exams for persons 19 and older but under 65 years old, and dental care (except certain dental procedures that require hospitalization) are not insured. For a complete list of medical and hospital services that are covered and not covered, go to this page: Health Coverage.

    You can choose to supplement your health coverage by getting health insurance from private companies. Some employers may provide this too. However, for those with limited income and no dental insurance, there are community clinics that see patients without insurance or for reduced fees. You can inquire from Access Centres (if you’re in Winnipeg) or from your nearest immigrant-serving organization.

    If you moved to Manitoba from outside of Canada, your Manitoba Health Care coverage starts from the date of your arrival in Manitoba.

  4. Getting a family doctor

    Your family doctor is your best partner in keeping yourself and your family healthy. Your Manitoba Health Care coverage pays for insured services provided by doctors in their office, clinic, hospital, or in your home. These range from routine check-ups to emergency care, and care while you are in a hospital. Your family doctor can also refer you to a specialist for any condition or injury that needs extensive treatment or order medically necessary surgery anesthesia, X-rays and other laboratory services when needed.

    You can look for a family doctor on your own, or by asking for recommendations from your neighbours or friends, then calling the clinic. You can also register online or by phone with the Family Doctor Finder.

    Read How to get a doctor in Manitoba to know more about your options.

  5. Health care options

    Aside from visits to the doctor, you can consult a health professional whenever you need advice. For common health concerns, call Health Links-Info Santé. You can also call them if you have an urgent health concern but you’re not sure if it is an emergency or not. However, if it is a heart attack, major trauma, severe head injury, or similar grave situations, you can call 911.

    Read Urgent care or emergency? Getting the right health care services if you need more help deciding

    If you don’t have a family doctor yet or when clinics are closed and you need medical attention, you can go to Walk-In or QuickCare clinics. These are staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses who diagnose and treat minor health issues. If you’re in Winnipeg, you can go to Walk-In Connected Care or Walk-In Clinics. There are QuickCare clinics in Steinback and Selkirk. Another option are ACCESS Centres in Winnipeg and Brandon.

    Go to to see a summary of your health care options in Winnipeg.

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Community Resources

The Pharmacare Program provides assistance by paying a part of your prescription costs, regardless of the disease or your age. You can apply for Pharmacare if you are eligible for the Manitoba health card and your prescriptions are not covered by other provincial or federal programs, or a private drug insurance program. Go to the Manitoba Pharmacare Program page to download the forms and know about the two ways you can apply for this benefit.

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