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Health Services in Canadian Universities

Health Services by Province

Health Services in Universities in Canada

Most post-secondary schools in Canada provide some level of health services to their students. This can range from providing contact info for the local regional hospital, to campus clinics, to full-on campus hospitals. In order to see a campus physician you will need to present proof of a valid provincial health card and student ID. Non-students and those without valid ID may also be seen, but a service charge will often be charged.

Staff at student health services includes family physicians, registered nurses, community health coordinators, health promotion coordinators, dieticians, and lab technicians. Larger universities tend to have more staff and services, as well as hospitals and pharmacies nearby (if not on-site), while smaller schools and community colleges may only have a small staff or else refer all health inquiries to the local community doctor.

The policy in most schools is by appointment only, although drop-ins are allowed in urgent cases. Waits are usually longest on weekday late afternoons, when most students are finished with classes for the day. Most schools will only have their health services available on weekdays, although some of the larger schools may be open daily, especially if they are part of a larger hospital in the first place.


Several types of common vaccinations require a booster shot during the teenage years. This can overlap with the post-secondary years and as such, school clinics will finish vaccination series.

As well, vaccinations for travel are also taken care of as part of health services. This can include Hepatitis A, Malaria, Yellow Fever, and a variety of other vaccinations related to travel to 3rd world countries. Itís best to make an appointment to get the schedule for these vaccinations at least a couple of months in advance of your trip.

Flu clinics are often held at campus health centers. Due to the fact that many students are in close proximity to one another during class, in libraries, etc., influenza tends to spread quickly, thus flu shots are often made available to the general student population during the late fall and early winter months.

Sexual health

This is one of the major reasons for students to visit their campus health services, due to many students experimenting with sex and being away from home for the first time. Students can acquire a prescription for birth control pills, get Depo-Provera shots, vasectomies, or ask for emergency contraception. STD testing is also routinely done at student health services.


If a student has a medical condition that requires a referral, such as a sports injury, the physicians on staff are qualified to refer students to an appropriate specialist. As campus health services are geared for students and not the general public, getting this referral is often much quicker than doing it through a public health practitioner.

Miscellaneous treatments

Minor issues such as wart removal, blood pressure checks, and allergy injections can be taken care of at campus health services. Again, this is often quicker than going off-campus, and is more convenient for the students.

Education and counseling

Health counseling consists of information sessions or advice on a variety of topics. This can range from birth-control options, depression, or general medical advice. Health counselors can sometimes work with personal counselors and chaplains (and indeed can be the same person in smaller schools).

Other topics of particular concern to students that health services can assist with include smoking cessation techniques, alcohol poisoning, eating disorders, drug use, and stress.

Education is also a big part of health services. They can arrange health seminars such as health issues when traveling abroad, post information about sexual abuse, and do outreach work such as lectures for the general public. A library of material can also be available for students wishing to find out more information about a particular topic.

Student health and dental plans

As part of registration, students are automatically enrolled in a school-run health and dental insurance plan, similar to plans offered to working employees. This covers supplemental health procedures (eg. physiotherapy), out-of-country travel insurance, insurance for children and spouses, prescriptions, and most routine dental work. Usually enrollment is automatic and if you donít wish to be enrolled you must opt-out by a certain date, usually within the 2nd week of September of that academic year.


Student fees cover most services, but some things are not covered. Cancellations within a certain time period are often subject to a fee. Tests and declarations for medical purposes are also subject to charge. Wart removal, birth control pills, rental of crutches, and flu shots are also routinely subject to a charge. These charges are usually partially subsidized and generally run between $5-30 depending on the procedure.

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