Before Provincial Health Care Protects Your Caregiver – It’s Up to You
The live-in caregiver program is a popular way for Canadian families with young children or aging parents to hire a foreign nanny or caregiver. However, by hiring a caregiver, you become an employer. Citizenship & Immigration Canada sets out numerous requirements for employers participating in this program, including the provision of medical insurance for caregivers.
Provincial Medical Plans
Sponsoring employers should help their caregivers to apply for provincial medical care as soon as they arrive in Canada. In some provinces, there is no waiting period to join the provincial medical care system, which means that caregivers only need temporary private insurance to cover them during their trip to Canada and while waiting for their provincial medical application to be processed. Ideally, this insurance should be purchased before a caregiver leaves her home country so that coverage takes effect immediately upon departure. However, be careful to purchase a Visitors-to-Canada insurance plan that covers the trip to Canada such as the RSA or Travel Underwriters policies. Some policies only start upon arrival in Canada.
BC and Ontario now charge fees for their provincial medical plan, while Quebec charges fees for the provincial drug plan. However, in most cases, the cost to the caregiver will be nothing or minimal, as fees are usually based on income.
Private Medical Insurance for Caregivers
In BC, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, employers must provide private health-care insurance to the caregiver to cover the two to three month waiting period before being able to join a provincial medical plan such as OHIP or MSP. A basic 91-day $100,000 Visitors-to-Canada Medical policy with no deductible can be purchased for as little as $204.75 for caregivers in their 20’s. This is an important step that should not be forgotten. Caregivers from tropical countries such as the Philippines are not used to the colder Canadian climate, and often fall ill after arriving in Canada. Private rates in Canadian hospitals can be as high as $3,300 per day. Without insurance, this cost would be the responsibility of the employer. These policies cover unexpected doctor and hospital bills, as well as extras including some emergency dental coverage and emergency transportation to a medical facility.
Provincial prescription drug programs vary a great deal. Some provinces such as BC and Quebec have universal pharmacare programs that cover all residents. If you live in a province with one of these programs, you should also help your caregiver to apply for coverage. Other provinces such as Ontario only cover certain categories of individuals such as seniors. In these cases, you may want to consider enrolling your caregiver in a private extended benefits program, which are offered by several insurance companies including Manulife and GMS. These programs also typically provide additional benefits including dental and para-medical coverage.
Gaps in Provincial Health Coverage
Foreign workers on work visas are normally eligible for provincial medical coverage. However, if the visa expires, the provincial medical coverage normally also expires. This could leave the caregiver without insurance while awaiting a visa renewal. Therefore, it is important to apply well in advance for visa renewals so that your caregiver will remain covered by provincial medical care. Otherwise, you will need to purchase her Visitors-to-Canada insurance until her work visa is renewed.
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