Canada's health care system has been a work in progress since its inception. Reforms have been made over the past four decades and will continue in response to changes within medicine and throughout society. The basics, however, remain the same - universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay.
Canada's publicly funded health care system is best described as an interlocking set of ten provincial and three territorial health insurance plans. Known to Canadians as "medicare", the system provides access to universal, comprehensive coverage for medically necessary hospital and physician services.
The federal government, the ten provinces, and the three territories have key roles to play in the health care system in Canada. Health Canada's mandate is to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. Among other activities, Health Canada's responsibilities for health care include setting and administering national principles for the health care system through the Canada Health Act and delivering health care services to specific groups (e.g., First Nations and Inuit). Working in partnership with provinces and territories, Health Canada also supports the health care system through initiatives in areas such as health human resources planning, adoption of new technologies and primary health care delivery.
In this section, you will find an overview of Canada's health care system. More detailed information is also available on specific elements of the health care system, including health human resources, primary health care, home and community care and pharmaceuticals coverage. There is also information on studies examining the health care system and links to further information.