i For the latest updates and specific information on COVID-19 including impacts on medical insurance, please refer to the COVID-19 FAQ for International Students page.

COVID-19 FAQ for International Students > 

International Teaching Assistants

This page is regularly reviewed and was last updated on January 28, 2021.

Note: In Canada, there are two types of medical insurance: primary and secondary. At SFU both Primary and Secondary Medical Insurance are required.

Note: Both Primary Insurance and Secondary Insurance are required.

For a detailed description of how to get medical insurance coverage as a current TA/TM/Sessional, please visit the Human Resources website

If you cannot find the information you are looking for on this page, please refer to the COVID-19 FAQ for International Students page on medical insurance. For further questions, connect with an International Student Advisor here.

Are you a Research Assistant? 

Benefits for Research Assistants depend on grant holder approval. To be eligible for benefits, your grant holder must provide written authorization to Human Resources stating that the grant will be responsible for 50% of the monthly premiums.


Primary medical insurance covers services that require medical attention, 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). An interim solution for the waiting period during the coverage gap is a short-term medical insurance plan called guard.me.

Staying in BC for 6 months or longer?

Under the Medicare Protection Act, enrolment with the Medical Services Plan (MSP) is mandatory for all eligible residents and their dependents.

If you are in BC and have not done so already, apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) right away. 

If this is your first term at SFU and:

  • you already have valid coverage through BC Medical Services Plan (MSP), or 
  • you are studying at SFU under a government sponsored scholarship program, or
  • you are outside Canada,

you may be able to opt out of the guard.me@SFU temporary medical insurance plan, if you have not used it. To opt out of guard.me@SFU, visit their website before the deadline

If this is not your first term at SFU and you opted out of the guard.me@SFU plan, because you were not in Canada:

When you travel to Canada, please contact International Services for Students to learn about medical insurance options to cover your BC MSP waiting period.

Moving to BC from another province?

If you are currently covered by another provincial medical insurance plan, you may be able to opt out of the guard.me@SFU plan. Ensure you contact your Provincial or Territorial health plan provider to inquire about coverage while in British Columbia (BC). Please note that SFU and guard.me will not review your home insurance plan. 

If you are not able to remain on your home province or territory plan, you cannot opt out from guard.me@sfu and must apply for the BC's Medical Services Plan after your arrival in BC.


Cost: $281 for your first term at SFU*

Enrolment: Automatic (upon enrolment in classes) for your first term only

More Info: guard.me@SFU website

*prices are subject to change without notice

TIP:  Upon request, SFU will provide a partial reimbursement of the premiums for single, couple, or family coverage that you are enrolled in or purchase through the guard.me@SFU plan. Bring proof of payment (screenshot of student account activity & electronic invoice from guard.me for family enrollments) and a copy of your and your family‚Äôs guard.me (if applicable) cards to Human Resources for processing.

Common Questions:

What is guard.me@SFU?

Guard.me@SFU is a short term primary medical insurance coverage for your first term at SFU. The goal of guard.me@SFU is to help you transition while you are waiting for your BC MSP. If you plan to live in BC for more than 6 months, under the Medicare Protection Act, you must enrol with the mandatory BC Medical Services Plan.

How do I get the policy/ certificate number?

You will receive an email from guard.me@SFU regarding the policy/ certificate number. The policy information will be in an attachment. Make sure to keep this for future reference as you will need it for direct billing or to submit a claim.  If you have not received an email from guard.me@SFU, please contact them at admin@guard.me.

How and when can I opt out of guard.me@SFU?

You should opt out of guard.me@SFU once you have applied and received proof of your BC MSP enrolment (scan copy of your valid BC CareCard/Services Card, a current invoice or a letter confirming coverage). If you are a TA, you may contact benefits@sfu.ca to request a confirmation letter.

 To opt out of guard.me@SFU, visit their website. Click the "graduate" category and follow the opt-out instructions. To see the opt out deadlines for guard.me@SFU click here

Opting-out with BC MSP

In order to successfully opt-out from guard.me with BC MSP, you must submit proof of MSP which must include a photo of your MSP card plus one of the following additional documents:

  • Letter that was issued with the MSP card showing the effective date of your MSP coverage: click here to see a sample letter
  • Current MSP bill showing effective coverage
  • Health Insurance BC confirmation of MSP enrolment letter

Please note the following:

  • Your BC MSP card must be valid the day you opt-out from the guard.me plan. Expired BC MSP card will not be accepted as a proof of coverage
  • A Collections Notice cannot be used to opt-out
  • The name and date of birth on your BC MSP card must match SFU records.
  • If your MSP card is issued more than 3 months prior to the start of the semester, no additional document is required. You only need to submit a photo of your MSP card to opt out. 

How can I make claims?

When visiting any of the SFU Health Clinics, print out a copy of the email attachment from guard.me@SFU containing your coverage certificate. They will collect a copy for each visit and will directly bill guard.me@SFU on your behalf. No additional claim is required. 

You can search Guard.me preferred clinics near your location here. These clinics will allow direct billing.

For clinics that do not allow direct billing, you will need to pay upfront for the visit. Keep copies of all your payment receipts. To submit a claim, please visit guard.me@SFU to create an online account and upload copies of your receipts. 

I received my BC Services Card (MSP card) before the end of my first term. May I apply for a partial refund of the 4 month policy?

You may be eligible for a refund of the unused portion of your insurance if you have not made a claim and there is more than 1 month of coverage remaining when you apply through guard.me@SFU. Your application for a partial reimbursement must be received by guard.me@SFU before the last month of the term (that is, before April 1, August 1 and December 1). If approved, your partial refund will be applied to your SFU account.

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

Cost: Employee Benefit*
Enrollment: Apply through Human Resources upon arrival
More Info: Human Resources website

No longer a Teaching Assistant?

Cost: $75 per month*

If you have any dependent (e.g. spouse, common-law partner, and/or children) on the same BC MSP account, this fee will apply for each study permit holder.

Enrolment: Submit a TSSU Request for Continued Benefit Coverage form prior to your termination, or contact MSP directly to pay as an individual.
More Info: BC MSP website

*prices are subject to change without notice

Common Questions:

What is the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)?

Students staying in BC for 6 months or longer are required to enrol in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan under the Medicare Protection Act. There is a wait period of 2-3 months for new residents. In order to be covered during the wait period you may purchase a private medical insurance plan or please contact International Services for Students to learn about medical insurance options.

If you are a new international student at SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in guard.me@sfu plan for your first term while you wait for your BC MSP.

BC MSP provides primary medical coverage such as:

  • services provided by a doctor
  • X-rays, lab tests (as required by a doctor) 
  • emergency dental and oral surgery in hospital

How and when can I apply for MSP?

You must apply to enrol yourself (and any dependent family members) in the group plan upon arrival. Once you have received your TSSU appointment form, attend a benefit information session and submit a group MSP enrolment form to Human Resources in Strand Hall, Room 2171. If you are an international student, take a copy of your study permit (and immigration documents for your dependent family members), and your Social Insurance Number. If you have questions, please contact benefits@sfu.ca

As a new resident of Canada, there is a three month waiting period before MSP coverage can begin (the balance of the month of arrival in BC plus two full calendar months). The guard.me@SFU plan is designed to provide medical coverage during the waiting period, until you obtain MSP coverage and opt out. Guard Me coverage is automatic for international students. Dependent family members (i.e. spouse and/or dependent children) can be added by applying online.

How does BC MSP work?

When visiting a health clinic or hospital, you will be asked to show your BC Services Card as proof of enrolment. You will not be required to pay for the visit, they will bill BC MSP directly for eligible expenses. 


Secondary medical insurance generally covers vision care, prescription drugs, dental and extended health care. Eligible SFU students receive secondary medical insurance through the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan. If you are working as a TA, you may receive coverage through another provider as part of your employment contract.

GSS Health and Dental Plan

Cost: $465.00/ academic year*

Enrolment: Automatic (except if entering in summer term). May-start students can self-enrol for their first semester at SFU during the Change-of-Coverage Period.

More Info: GSS Health and Dental Plan website

*prices are subject to change without notice

Common Questions:

What is the GSS Health and Dental Plan?

The Graduate Student Society (GSS) health and dental plan is in place to complement primary medical coverage (ie. BC MSP). Services not included by primary coverage (ie. vision and dental care) are included in the GSS plan.

Eligible students are automatically covered by and billed for applicable portions of the student plan. Note that plan benefits are only accessible within Canada.

How and when can I opt out of the GSS Health and Dental Plan?

You may opt out of the GSS extended health plan if you have existing secondary coverage in BC. To opt out, you will be required to upload proof of coverage on the GSS Health and Dental website during the Change-of-Coverage Period. This will be during the first two weeks of each term. 

Due to the impact of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, a special Change-of-Coverage Period will be available between July 5-19, 2021 for international students who were unable to come to Canada during the 2020-21 academic year. For more information read the FAQ infosheet.

Please visit their website for more information. 

How can I make claims?

You can submit health and dental claim forms directly to the insurance company. You may also file claims online through the ihaveaplan mobile app. For more information, and to download the app, click here.

TSSU Benefits

If you have an active TSSU appointment, you may also choose to opt into a private extended health plan (Pacific Blue Cross). For more information, visit the Human Resources website.