All About Getting Prescriptions As A Newcomer In Canada


Do you have an important medication you take for your health and you are relocating to Canada? If yes, please make sure you take the appropriate steps to ensure that you can have access to these drugs in Canada. 

This article aims to look at prescription drugs in Canada and how you can access them as a newcomer in Canada who needs them.

There are two major categories of medications in Canada and they are: 

  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs: These are drugs that can be lawfully bought by any consumer without noted authorization from a doctor.
  2. Prescription drugs: These are drugs that are solely for individuals to whom they are prescribed, and you need a doctor’s prescription you can bring along with you to a pharmacy in Canada to have filled before you can access these drugs.

Let us throw more light on Canada’s riveting prescription drug industry by answering frequently asked questions concerning prescription drugs as regards Canada.

Are my prescription drugs lawful in Canada, and do they require a prescription?


The first you have to find out is how your drugs are classified in Canada? You can do so by reviewing the status of the drugs in Canada’s Prescription Drug List to know whether your medication demands a prescription in Canada or not.


Through this means, you can make sure that the drugs found in your medications are authorized in Canada because bringing in illegal drugs into the country would be the wrong way to kick off your Canadian experience unless you intend to do a tour of Canada’s criminal justice system.

Am I permitted to bring my prescription medication into Canada with me?

Generally, Canadian healthcare will allow you to get into the country with the required medication for either a single course of treatment or a 90-day supply for both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication. You can carry this out for yourself or anyone traveling with you, dependents are inclusive. 

The first thing you should do is to adhere to the aforementioned steps to ensure that your drugs are permitted in Canada.

Furthermore, make sure that you put the drugs in a hospital or pharmacy-dispensed packaging, the initial retail packaging, or have the actual label affixed to it to plainly show the content and the uses of the health product to avoid issues conveying these medications into Canada.

What do I do if I need to fill my prescription in Canada?

If you have almost finished all the medication you brought with you to Canada, then, get ready to experience the Canadian health care system first hand. 


Do I need to obtain a prescription from a Canadian doctor?

Firstly, you must understand that it is not possible for you to use a foreign prescription to get prescription medication in Canada therefore you have to get a prescription from a Canadian doctor, if not, the pharmacist will not sell prescription drugs to you. 

Below are a few possible means through which you can get a prescription drug from a Canadian doctor, they are:

  1. Walk-in clinic (mostly quicker but short-term): A walk-in clinic permits patients to walk into a clinic and wait to be seen by a doctor. With this, you can easily get your prescription if you need it immediately. To locate the walk-in-clinic closest to you, make use of Medimap. Nevertheless, you need to go prepared because you will wait for a long time in walk-in clinics. Also, take your foreign prescription along with you so that you can explain your needs to the doctor. This option is most suitable for people in the country that are on temporary stays, temporary workers, and tourists inclusive. Permanent residents who need immediate care can also use walk-in clinics.
  2. Family doctor (mostly gradually but long-term): In case you intend to settle in Canada long-term, we advise you to find a family doctor. He/she is a physician who can regularly monitor your health and that of your family members long-term. A part of their duty is to assist you to manage your prescriptions.

    In addition to this, family doctors are arranged at the provincial level, therefore, do well to contact your provincial health authority to know how you can obtain one in your province. As an additional tip: What most provinces do is to permit you to sign up for a waitlist for a family doctor, however, the wait can take months or years even. In this case, we advise that you directly contact clinics and find out if they are taking new patients or your friends to know if their doctors are accepting new patients.
  3. On-campus doctor (international students): As an international student in Canada, it is expected that either your school has doctors on-campus, or that they have an existing relationship with a nearby clinic. What you need to do is to consult with your school to know if you can be guided as to where to go get a prescription.

Please note that in the case of an emergency or you need prompt care, call 9-1-1 or visit any of the Emergency Rooms at the hospital closest to you.

Make a research of the cost before you buy. 

Although Canada is known to give free universal medical care, however, this does not always apply to prescription drugs.  

You are required to have some kind of insurance as a temporary resident in Canada (worker, student, visitor). In fact, it is usually compulsory for participants in International Experience Canada (IEC) and international students. Please to be on the safe side, endeavor to consult with your insurance provider beforehand to know which costs are taken care of and the ones that you have to pay for if you think that you will need prescription drugs in Canada. 

But, if you are a permanent resident in Canada, you don’t have to worry about the cost because you are eligible to access Canada’s publicly-funded health care system.

Unfortunately, the health care system only covers prescription drugs that are administered while you’re in the hospital while any drugs that you get outside of the hospital setting may be from a pharmacy will not be taken care of.

Moreover, certain provinces have prescription drug plans specific to them, therefore, make sure you check with your provincial health authority to know how you can register for the plan and what is covered. Most employers provide health plans to their employees that take care of some costs pertaining to prescription drugs as well. 

Prescription drugs are quite pricey and your health is paramount, therefore it is important that you have a knowledge of what and how much of the cost of prescription drugs are covered for you.

With the information you have gotten from this article, getting a prescription drug as a newcomer in Canada would not be a hassle.


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