Your health information can contain many types of information, ranging from general to very personal information. Some of the information that may be included, but is not exhaustive to, includes the following:
The range of information each of your health care providers know will vary between each provider as it depends on what is needed to give you treatment. The health care provider can give you the best advice and care when they have all the relevant facts.
In general, your doctor will need to know as much as possible about you in order to provide the best care. You may feel inclined to forego sharing certain information if you believe it is not important, but it is best for the doctor to decide whether it is important or not. The doctor can give you the best advice and care when they have all the relevant facts.
However, not every doctor needs to know the same things. For example, a specialist may only need specific health information to treat you in comparison to your family doctor.
In most cases, pharmacists will need to know all of the drugs you are taking in order to provide the best management of your health. Specifically, there may be a risk of negative interactions or side effects.
Other health care providers that may have your personal health information can include physiotherapists, social workers, and nurses. These people will generally need only a limited amount of your personal health information, but it varies case by case.
Regardless of your health care provider, you have a right to be comfortable with what they know and what you share with them. It is essential to be able to communicate your wishes with your health care provider.
The Canadian health care system is complex in structure. A general guide for newcomers to BC can be found in the BC Newcomers’ Guide to Resources and Services.
Access to Canada’s health care services is a national right guided by the Canada Health Act (“CHA”). However, health care is organized and administered by each provincial or territorial government, creating differences between every province or territory. In order for provinces and territories to receive federal health care funding through the form of the Canada Health Transfer (“CHT”), provinces and territories must fulfill certain criteria and conditions under the aim of the CHA: to “ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to insured health services on a prepaid basis, without direct charges at the point of service for such services”.
Canada’s health care system is often referred to as “universal” in that all eligible Canadians have access. “Universal” does not mean that every single medical service is covered by provincial and territorial health insurance plans.
Provincial and territorial health insurance plans are required to cover the following services as per the CHA:
hospital services provided to in-patients or out-patients,
Several hospital services are not insured by provincial and territorial health insurance plans as they are not deemed medically necessary by the CHA. These services can include private duty nursing services and preferred hospital accommodations.
Please visit the following page for the “coverage” source information.
The BC health care system is legislated and governed by the Public Health Act, which covers current and emerging public health issues. The Public Health Act in conjunction with the Ministry of Health Act grants the Ministry of Health the resources to fulfill their responsibility of ensuring British Columbians have quality, appropriate, cost effective, and timely health services. The Ministry of Health is responsible for major BC health programs such as the Medical Services Plan (“MSP”) which insures BC residents for required medical services, and PharmaCare to help BC residents pay for some prescription drugs, medical supplies, and pharmacy services. BC also has a Provincial Health Officer (“PHO”), who is an independent body that focuses on public and population health and reports to the Ministry of Health.
In order for the Ministry of Health to effectively fulfill their responsibilities, the Ministry of Health works with the Provincial Health Services Authority who is in charge of managing the five Regional Health Authorities as well as organizations that provide specialized health care services. Each Regional Health Authority tailors their health care services for the needs for their respective region.
Each health authority has a team of Chief Medical Officers (“CMO”) who help lead their respective BC region. Health authorities are responsible for the health care services directly provided to you by health care providers as well as the broader regional health care systems themselves. The five health authorities are:
Please visit the following page for more information and to locate your BC health authority.
MSP covers many health services such as specifically required medical services. However, not every health service is covered. Some covered services include:
Services provided by the private sector are not covered by MSP, which can include:
Please visit the following page for more information about MSP coverage.
Most prescribed drugs and many pharmacy services are covered by BC PharmaCare if you are eligible.
Please visit the following page for more information about BC PharmaCare coverage.
Every BC resident must enroll with the Medical Services Plan. To be a resident, one must satisfy all of the following conditions:
Dependents of MSP beneficiaries are also eligible if they are residents themselves, and can be eligible for resident status if they have provided an application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) and specific fees have been fully paid. All BC residents who are Status Indians will be enrolled in MSP by the First Nations Health Authority. Other individuals may also be deemed residents.
Please visit the following page for MSP eligibility information.
All BC residents are eligible for Fair PharmaCare if they have MSP coverage and allow PharmaCare to check their income through the Canada Revenue Agency.
These pages were last updated and reviewed in August of 2022.
The information on these pages only contains general information and guidance; none of the information constitutes legal advice. If you have a specific issue that you believe is a legal problem, the best practice is to consult a lawyer.
The information is non-partisan, dynamic and ever changing. It is the result of FIPA’s research and public education programs.
If you note something that needs to be added, corrected, or removed, please contact us by email: fipa AT fipa.bc.ca.