Three Month Wait

Update: The government has announced that the three-month MSP coverage wait period will be waived for eligible individuals effective March 1, 2020 which expired July 31, 2020. This waiver shows both that it’s possible and beneficial to public health to remove the wait period. As a community, let’s continue to demand the complete removal of the wait period and expanding full health coverage for all!

Before the COVID-19 crisis, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec were the only provinces that deny three months of health coverage to people arriving or returning from outside of Canada. This exclusionary wait period prevents new immigrants, temporary foreign workers, returning Canadians and even some newborn Canadian babies from receiving health care coverage.

The three month wait period places individuals in a limbo period and forces them to delay seeking care until coverage is received. This is  evidenced in the increased physician billing rates in the fourth month after an immigrant’s arrival. The delay in seeking appropriate and adequate health care  results in poorer health outcomes and increased costs as individuals run the risk of developing more complex health concerns, which places a greater burden on our health care system.

The three month wait period was a policy decided on by the Medical Services Commission and they have the power to change it. Sanctuary Health sent the following package to the Medical Services Commission requesting that they take action to end the three month wait. We also requested an opportunity for Sanctuary Health to present to them about the impacts of the current policy and why it should be changed.