System at a Glance

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Healthcare Funding

In Canada, our health care system is called Medicare. It is publically funded through our tax dollars.

The federal government shares responsibility with the provinces and territories who deliver the actual services. The federal government also offers direct services to select groups:

  • First Nations people living on reserves
  • Inuit
  • serving members of the Canadian Forces
  • eligible veterans
  • inmates in federal penitentiaries
  • some groups of refugee claimants

The details of funding arrangement between the federal government and the provinces and territories are agreed on in a Health Accord. These usually cover a number of years and are then renegotiated. The 10-year 2004 Health Accord has expired. In 2016-17 we are again working on a new Health Accord. Health Accords determine how much money the federal governement will give the provinces and what strings are attached to this money.  

For more on our health systems go to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). There you will find "in brief" and "in depth" information for all of Canada.


We have 13 different healthcare systems as follows:

Governance - Number of Health Regions

AB - 1 Alberta Health Services
BC - 7 Health Regions
MB - 5 Health Authorities
NB - 2 Health Networks
NL - 4 Health regions
NS - 2 Health Authorities
NT - 8 HSS Authorities
NU - 1 Health Region
ON - 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs)
PE - 1 Health Authority
QC - 18 Régions sociosanitaires (Health Regions)
SK - going to 1 Health Authority from 12
YT - 1 Health Region

Resources about Health Systems


About the Canadian healthcare system

Here you will find information about the Canadian healthcare system and how it works within each province and territory.

book: Personal Health Navigator

A Patient's Guide to Ontario's Health Care System

This is an collection of questions and answers posed to patient navigators Lisa Priest and Paul Taylor of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

This free e-book was created by Healthy Debate.


Canada Health Act

This is the Act that describes the funding arrangement between the federal government and the provinces and territories - and the conditions surrounding the arrangement.

In addition, this webpage provides a simple explanation of the funding arrangements.

CIHR logo


Canadian Institutes of Health Research

CIHR is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. Composed of 13 Institutes, theycollaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

They have also created and sponsored the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) program across Canada.


Ontario's Health System: Key Insights for Engaged Citizens, Professionals and Policymakers

Ever wondered how the Ontario health system works? You can find answers in a book recently published by the McMaster Health Forum, entitled ‘Ontario’s Health System: Key Insights for Engaged Citizens, Professionals and Policymakers.’

The goal of this book is to help make the system more understandable to the citizens who pay for it and are served by it, the professionals who work in it (and future professionals who will one day work in it), and the policymakers who govern it. Each chapter begins with key messages for each of these groups.

The full book will soon be available for purchase on (and is now available for individuals outside of Canada on If you are interested in particular topics (e.g., how money flows or how the primary care sector functions), McMaster University is making individual book chapters freely available on the McMaster Health Forum website.

Understanding Transitions in Care: From the Patient & Caregiver Perspective

A framework to assist in understanding the care experience as it relates to transitions in care co-developed with UHN Connected Care and the Toronto Central LHIN Citizens’ Digital Health Working Group. Key elements are a) a new definition for transitions of care from the patient/caregiver perspective and b) a new diagram: Comprehensive Care Pathway.  The diagram allows for broad issues affecting health like the social determinants of health as well as issues that use the formal healthcare system.

Upstream is a movement to create a healthy society through evidence-based, people-centred ideas. Upstream seeks to reframe public discourse around addressing the social determinants of health in order to build a healthier society. It is a Canadian non-profit.

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What is the Minister of Health for Canada responsible for?

Minister Ginette Petitpas TaylorOur current minister is Ginette Petitpas Taylor. Follow her on Twitter @GPTaylorMRD

Check out this easy description of her portfolio

Canada's Healthcare System Explained -- to Americans!

Explaining Canadian Healthcare to Americans

Follow the Money

Canada Health Act, 1985

This Act covers the funding contributions by the federal government to the Provinces and Territories and what conditions they have around the funding.

For an easy description of the funding arrangement, read this government page.

Big Changes in SaskatchewanWheat Sheaf
Jan 4, 2017

Read how Saskatchewan is reducing the 12 health authorities to a single body.


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