Health insurance

For COVID-19 related information, visit the UVic response to COVID-19 website and the COVID-19 information on the International Resources web page. Please note, as information can change without notice, for the most current immigration information, always visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website and the Government of Canada website

The cost of health care in Canada is very high for those who do not have health insurance. Without coverage, you could be denied treatment or pay thousands of dollars each day for medical services.

As a result, in order to ensure medical issues do not cause financial difficulty or compromise academic progress, all UVic students are required to have comprehensive coverage for the entire duration of their studies in Canada.

Family members who are with you in Canada should also have comprehensive coverage. You can purchase coverage for them at an additional cost.

The guard.me@UVic plan

What is it?

The guard.me plan provides emergency medical insurance coverage for international students who are new to UVic. 

This plan covers required medical services to address new and unexpected illness or injury.   

How am I enrolled?

Most new international students are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan upon course registration at UVic.

If you are automatically enrolled, you will receive an email from guard.me to access your an ID Card and policy information.

Research students: You will not be automatically enrolled, but you can purchase comparable coverage on the guard.me/uvic website. We strongly recommend this option for research students who do not already have emergency medical insurance.

How do I pay the MTMI fee?

If you are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan, you will be assessed a Mandatory Temporary Medical Insurance (MTMI) fee of $265 in your UVic student account.

Instructions for how to pay tuition and student fees are available on the Accounting Services website.

Fee deadlines are available in the UVic Calendar.

Exchange students:  The options available for paying the MTMI fee are the same as those listed for paying UVic tuition fees. 

What are the effective dates of my coverage?

The effective dates of coverage provided by the guard.me@UVic plan are determined by when you will begin your program of study at UVic.

The policy start date on your ID Card will be either September 1, January 1, or May 1.

However, it is important to note that all students who are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan receive a 14-day grace period, which provides emergency medical insurance coverage while travelling to Canada, settling in, and attending orientation events.

If you begin your program of study during the first term of winter session your coverage will be effective August 18 through December 31.

If you begin your program of study during the second term of winter session your coverage will be effective December 18 through April 30.

If you begin your program of study during summer session, your coverage will be effective April 17 through August 31. 

How can I enrol my family members?

Visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Dependents and follow the instructions to purchase emergency medical insurance coverage for family members who will accompany you to Canada.

Note: You can only submit the form to purchase coverage for your family members after you receive the ID Card and policy information for your own coverage.

I am already covered by a similar plan. Can I opt out?

Enrolment in the guard.me@UVic plan is mandatory unless you are covered by one of the following:

  • BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)
  • Canadian provincial or territorial public health plan
  • Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau-sponsored plan
  • Libyan-North American Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • African Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship Program-sponsored plan
  • Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange & Fellowship Program

If you are already covered by one of these plans, visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Opt Out and follow the instructions.

If your BC MSP coverage expires during your first term at UVic, please contact International Student Services for the opt out procedure and criteria.

To demonstrate proof of coverage in one of these plans, you must provide a copy of each side of your identity card. Copies of your passport, UVic ONECard, etc. will not be accepted as proof of coverage.

You can only submit the form to opt out after you receive your ID Card and policy information and before your opt out deadline:

  • The opt out deadline for the first term of winter session (September - December) is September 22. 
  • The opt out deadline for the second term of winter session (January - April) is January 26. 
  • The opt out deadline for the summer session (May to August) is May 22. 

If you submit the form before your opt out deadline and your request is approved, the MTMI fee will be removed from your UVic student account.

If you miss your opt out deadline, or have difficulty submitting the form, please contact International Student Services (ISS).

I will not be in Canada for the summer session, (May - August) 2021. Can I opt out?

If you will be outside of Canada for the summer session (May - August 2021), you will be eligible to opt out, regardless of whether you are currently covered by a similar health plan. Visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Opt Out and follow the instructions. The opt out deadline is May 22, 2021. 

If you submit the form before your opt out deadline and your request is approved, the MTMI fee will be removed from your UVic student account.

If you miss your opt out deadline, or have difficulty submitting the form, please contact International Student Services (ISS).

How can I extend my coverage?

You should only purchase emergency medical insurance coverage that extends beyond the policy end date of your guard.me@UVic plan if you are not eligible to enrol in the British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Check out the section below to learn more about the Medical Services Plan (MSP) in British Columbia.

If you are not eligible to enrol in the BC MSP, visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Extend Coverage and follow the instructions to purchase additional emergency medical insurance coverage.

If, after purchasing additional coverage for yourself, you also want to purchase additional coverage for your family members, visit the guard.me/uvic website, click Dependents and follow the instructions.

Note: You can only submit the form to purchase additional coverage for your family members after you receive the ID Card and policy information for your own additional coverage.

How do I contact guard.me?

For non-emergency assistance, send an email to .

For emergency assistance dial:

  • 1-888-756-8428 (toll-free in North America)
  • 1-905-731-8291 (collect call outside North America)

Multi-lingual help is available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The BC Medical Services Plan

What is it?

The British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) covers required medical services provided by physicians, specialists, diagnostic facilities, laboratory facilities, and hospitals. 

Visit the BC MSP website for information about benefits.

Should I enroll with BC MSP?

If you intend to stay in British Columbia (BC) for fewer than six months, you are not eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

All other international students must submit an application for enrolment when they arrive in BC.

The application for enrolment is available online.

If you have difficulty submitting the online form, try one of the other application options.

You will receive a Non-Photo BC Services Card in the mail with a personal health number (PHN) which will allow you to access required medical services.

How do I pay the fees?

You will receive an invoice for your monthly fees and instructions for how to pay.

The health fee for international students is $75 per month per student.

Please refer to the BC Ministry of Health’s Questions and Answers: Health fee for international students document for more information.

Please note that international students are not eligible for premium assistance. 

What are the effective dates of my coverage?

After you apply for the British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP), there is a waiting period before your coverage begins.

The waiting period consists of the balance of your month of arrival in BC plus two more months. For example, if you arrive in BC any day in April your coverage will begin on July 1, but if you arrive in BC any day in May your coverage will begin on August 1.

Your BC MSP coverage expires when your temporary resident status in Canada expires. As a result, you will need to extend your MSP account after you extend your temporary resident status in Canada.

Most new international students are automatically enrolled in the guard.me@UVic plan, which covers required medical services to address new and unexpected illness or injury during the BC MSP waiting period.

I am already covered by another provincial or territorial public health plan.

If you are moving to British Columbia (BC) from another Canadian province or territory contact Health Insurance BC by phone and ask to speak with an enrolment specialist about your options.

How can I change my mailing address?

Submit an MSP Account Change Request online or contact Health Insurance BC by phone to provide your new mailing address.

How can I extend my coverage?

Your British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage expires when your temporary resident status in Canada expires. This date appears on your Canadian immigration document.

It is very important that you start the process of extending your temporary resident status in Canada at least four months before it expires to avoid a lapse in your BC MSP coverage.

If, when you receive your new Canadian immigration document, your BC Services Card has not yet expired, or has been expired for less than six months, submit an MSP Account Change Request online to extend your BC MSP coverage.

If, when you receive your new Canadian immigration document, your BC Services Card has already been expired for more than six months, contact Health Insurance BC by phone for instructions.

I plan to leave BC temporarily.

Some basic information is available on the BC MSP website.

If your BC Services Card is still valid, contact Health Insurance BC by phone and ask to speak with an enrolment specialist about your options.

I plan to leave BC permanently.

Some basic information is available on the BC MSP website.

If your BC Services Card is still valid submit a Permanent Move Outside British Columbia form online or contact Health Insurance BC by phone to cancel your coverage.

How do I contact Health Insurance BC?

Instructions for contacting Health Insurance BC are available on the BC MSP website.

UVic's Health and Dental plans

What are they?

Extended health insurance covers a portion of the cost of medical services that are not already covered by primary health insurance (e.g. guard.me or BC MSP). This includes vision care, dental care, travel benefits, prescription drugs, and services provided by chiropractors and psychologists.

The University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) health and dental plan provides extended coverage for undergraduate students. Visit the UVSS website for information about benefits.

The Graduate Students' Society (GSS) health and dental plan provides extended coverage for graduate students. Visit the GSS website for information about benefits.

The coverage offered by these plans does not replace the need for primary health insurance. Without the guard.me@UVic plan or the BC Medical Services Plan you may not be able to access all the benefits associated with your UVic health and dental plan.

How am I enrolled?

Most students are automatically enrolled in the appropriate plan upon registration at UVic. If you begin your program of studies in summer session (May to August), you should contact your student society (UVSS or GSS) to inquire your eligibility for your extended health and dental plan. 

Visit the UVSS website to learn more about the extended health and dental plan for undergraduate students.

Visit the GSS website to learn more about the extended health and dental plan for graduate students.

Exchange students:  You will not be automatically enrolled, but you may be eligible to opt in during the change of coverage period if you choose to purchase a UVSS or GSS membership package.

Research students:  You will not be automatically enrolled, but you may be eligible to opt in during the change of coverage period if you choose to purchase a UVSS or GSS membership package.

PharmaCare

What is it?

PharmaCare can help you cover the cost of eligible prescription drugs, medical supplies, and pharmacy services not already covered by your primary and extended health insurance.

How do I register?

If you are already enrolled in the British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) you are encouraged to register for Fair PharmaCare.

If you have already filed a Canadian income tax return, you can register online.

If you have not yet filed a Canadian income tax return, follow the instructions for new residents of Canada.

Health & Wellness Resources

UVic Health

UVic Health, located in the Health and Wellness Building, provides a full service primary medical care for UVic students. We encourage students to use UVic Health as their primary point of health care while at UVic.

UVic Sports Injury Clinic

The UVic Sports Injury Clinic is located on the ground floor of the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA). This on-campus clinic is open to Victoria community members, including UVic students, staff and faculty. Services provided by accredited practitioners at the clinic include physiotherapy, massage therapy and sports injury therapy.

UVic Counselling

UVic Counselling, located in the Health and Wellness Building, provides individual and group counselling for personal issues and career exploration.

SupportConnect is a free, confidential mental health support service for UVic students. Get connected with qualified counsellors, consultants, and life coaches anytime, anywhere. This service is available 24/7 by phone and online. Video and in-person options are also available. You can reach out for any reason - big or small!

Student Mental Health Strategy

Finding a balance between your school, work, social, and personal lives is key to having academic success at university. UVic offers numerous resources, supports, and opportunities to promote student mental health.

HealthLink BC

HealthLink BC is the gateway to non-emergency health information and advice in British Columbia (BC).

It is a phone number (8-1-1) and a website, both of which can be accessed at any time of day or night.

Interpreting services are available on request.

Heart Pharmacy

Heart Pharmacy, located in the Student Union Building, offers a wide range of health and beauty products plus prescription medications.

Campus Dental Centre

Campus Dental Centre, located in the Student Union Building, is a full service dental practice.

Victory Therapeutics

Victory Therapeutics, located in the Student Union Building, offers appointments with massage therapists, acupuncturists, dieticians, and naturopaths.

Cannabis and International Students

Background

As of October 17, 2018, the use of recreational cannabis became legal for adults in Canada.

In Canada, the Cannabis Act (Bill-C45) was passed to accomplish following goals:

  • keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  • keep profits out of the pockets of criminals
  • protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis

 (Original source: Government of Canada Department of Justice)

Impaired driving and cannabis-related offences

You should not drive while you are under the influence of drugs (including cannabis) or alcohol. Impaired driving is considered a very serious crime in Canada. On December 18, 2018, the Government of Canada announced new impaired driving and cannabis-related penalties. We also recommend that you visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for information about inadmissibility and the serious consequences to one’s temporary resident status or immigration applications in Canada due to impaired driving and cannabis-related offences.

Travelling within Canada

Even though cannabis consumption is legal in Canada, each province and territory has its own rules for cannabis including the legal minimum age (19 years or older in BC), where you can buy, where you can use, and how much you can possess. Visit the Government of Canada’s website for provincial and territorial regulations on cannabis.

Leaving and re-entering Canada

Keep in mind that the legalization of cannabis in Canada does not change Canada’s border regulations or the laws in other countries. Taking cannabis across the Canadian border is illegal, whether you are entering or leaving the country. It can result in serious penalties both in Canada and abroad. We strongly recommend that you review the information on the Government of Canada’s website about cannabis and international travel.

Cannabis in your home country

Change in cannabis laws and regulations in Canada does not affect the laws and regulations in other countries. To this date, cannabis remains illegal for most countries. For citizens of countries where cannabis is illegal, the use of cannabis overseas may result in negative impacts or severe penalties back home. That’s why we want to caution you that, as an international student, you must also understand the law and regulations on cannabis in your home country.

Cannabis on campus

UVic’s approach towards cannabis is inclusive of prevention, harm reduction, and health promotion using evidence-based information. We encourage students to be self-reflective and self-aware about substance use. If you have questions about cannabis on campus, visit the Office of Student Life’s website or attend a workshop to get answers. There are also resources for parents and caregivers.

If you have questions about any of the information on this page, please contact International Student Services (ISS). 

Last updated: May 2021