Medical Services and Insurance

As an international, exchange or study abroad student, you must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. If family members are accompanying you, they should also have adequate medical insurance during their stay in Canada. The Canadian health system provides a high standard of health care, but care is very expensive if you are not insured. Without insurance, you could pay thousands of dollars per day for a hospital stay or even be refused certain services. In Canada, there are generally two types of insurance: primary and secondary.

Primary medical insurance 

Covers medically-required services, such as visits to doctors, hospital stays and diagnostic medical testing. Primary medical insurance is legally required for all residents of British Columbia (including international students) and is provided through the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Secondary medical insurance 

Generally covers vision care, prescription drugs and dental care. Eligible SFU students receive secondary medical insurance through the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan.  Graduate students working as TAs may receive coverage through another provider as part of their employment contract.

For more information on medical insurance, including how to apply, see the Medical Insurance website. You can also review the handouts on our Resources and Instructional Handouts page. If you have any questions, please contact an International Student Advisor at intl_advising@sfu.ca.

Canadian medical system

You may find that the medical system in Canada is different from what you are used to back home.  It's important that you develop an understanding of how the system works in Canada before you need to use it, to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible if you become ill or injured.  In this section, you'll find tips to help you get comfortable with Canadian health care.

In the event of a medical emergency:

Call 911 or go immediately to the nearest hospital’s emergency room. Emergency calls are free from any phone.

If you are on campus at SFU:

  • 778.782.4500 (Burnaby)
  • 778.782.7511 (Surrey)
  • 778.782.5252 (Vancouver)

Access Medical Services at SFU