OGE Health & Safety

At NIC, we know that health and safety are a key to your sense of belonging and well-being as a student here. As international students, there is some information that is unique to you.

Please see our Medical Insurance for International Students for a full overview of the medical insurance requirements.

All international students are required by law to have medical insurance while studying in British Columbia. Health care services in Canada can be very expensive and it is mandatory to have insurance coverage. A standard visit to the emergency room at a British Columbia hospital costs $750 PLUS charges for additional tests. It is the student's responsibility to have adequate medical insurance while in Canada. There are three types of medical insurance that apply to international students:

When you arrive as a new international student you are automatically enrolled in the https://www.guard.me/nic plan as part of your tuition. Coverage is effective immediately upon your arrival to NIC. The guard.me@NIC plan will cover you during the waiting period for BC MSP (see next tab).

Coverage includes:

  • new and unexpected illness or injury, and unexpected emergency relating to a pre-existing medical condition
  • doctor and hospital visits
  • emergency transportation
  • annual non-emergency doctor’s visit
  • x-ray, lab testing

FAST FACTS ABOUT GUARD ME:

  • The charges for your 90-day Guard Me plan are collected and included in your tuition deposit for fee paying international students.
  • The cost for 90 days of Guard Me is $175.50.
  • Exchange students will have the charge applied to their student account after arrival and must pay accordingly. Exchange students will be enrolled for the full semester and charges will be rated at $1.95/day with a small admin fee. Charges on account will vary dependent on exchange students end date of studies and return to home country date.
  • Opt outs will only be considered for students who have active MSP. There will be no other exemptions.
  • For more information on Guard Me please see www.guard.me/nic

All new international students in Canada studying at NIC will be enrolled in guard.me@NIC health insurance plan for 90-days effective on the first day of international orientation.

Continuing students that require guard.me coverage because their MSP is expiring or has expired should contact ISA@nic.bc.ca to get enrolled in guard.me.

It is mandatory for all students in Canada studying at NIC to have valid medical insurance.

All international students studying in the Province of British Columbia are required to enroll in the BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP). Guard.me is intended for temporary medical insurance until a student is eligible for MSP, however, any students who fail to enroll in MSP (and opt-out of guard.me) will be re-enrolled until the opt-out process has been completed to ensure no lapse in medical coverage. Any charges for subsequent guard.me enrolment will be added to the student NIC account. Charges will be payable as soon as you have been notified by student email. It is the student responsibility to check student NIC email regularly and take the appropriate action.

Students should enroll in MSP as soon as they move to BC and have a permanent address. For more information about MSP please see the MSP tab below.

If you already have valid BC MSP coverage, you may opt out of the guard.me@NIC health insurance plan.

Guard.me opt out is not available for new students in the initial 90 days of your guard.me policy. (If you have MSP (or another Canadian provincial or territorial public health plan, please contact isa@nic.bc.ca to let us know before you begin your studies. Proof of valid enrolment will be required)

Once you receive your MSP, you will need to wait until the start of the next enrolment period (after initial 90 days) to opt out.

For the 100% opt-out to be accepted, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Successfully complete the opt out form below within the first 30 days of the start date of your guard.me policy;
  • Have BC MSP coverage that’s valid for the entire 90-day guard.me enrolment period; and
  • No claims made towards your guard.me policy

Please note that your successful opt-out form must include the alternate insurance declaration and identify your start date and end date under the other plan at the time you apply to opt out.

If you miss the opt-out deadline above, you may be eligible for a partial cancellation if you have not made a claim and there is at least one month of coverage remaining on your guard.me policy at the time you submit your opt out request.

If your opt out is successful, an email will be sent to your North Island College email account.

Any international students at NIC enrolled in guard.me who do not qualify or apply to opt out will be automatically re-enrolled in the guard.me@NIC health insurance plan for another 90-days.

Eligible Plans Required to Opt Out/Withdraw from guard.me

  • BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP)
  • Canadian provincial or territorial public health plan (GHIP)

After you arrive at NIC, you will be sent information from our office with instruction on how to apply for MSP. MSP (or the Medical Services Plan of BC) is a provincial health care plan and it is required for all international students at NIC. It is your responsibility to ensure you apply for, pay for and keep your MSP current. The BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover you for the remainder of your time studying at NIC. Students studying for more than three months on a study permit MUST enroll in BC MSP. There is approximately a three-month waiting period before your MSP coverage can begin, during which students are covered by the guard.me@NIC plan. Students should apply for MSP as soon as they arrive in Canada. There will be some overlap between coverage of Guard Me and MSP plans, this cannot be prevented.

Coverage includes:

  • doctor visits
  • hospital visits
  • investigations
  • tests

FAST FACTS ABOUT MSP:

  • You can apply for MSP online.
  • The cost of MSP for an international student is approximately $75.00 per month. You must pay these fees directly to the Province of BC. NIC does not collect for these fees.
  • Exchange students and students on visitor’s visas need not apply for MSP.
  • MSP coverage is valid until your study permit expiry date. If you need to extend your study permit during your program, you will need to re-apply with MSP. Any students who do not have valid or current MSP will be re-enrolled on a Guard Me plan by the OGE, charges will be added to your account and your account will be locked until the fees have been paid and you have provided proof of current MSP enrollment.

About BC Medical Service Plan (MSP)

The British Columbia (BC) government Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) is a mandatory public health insurance plan for everyone who lives in BC for six months or longer. The BC MSP is an important part of benefitting from the health care available to all BC residents.The plan covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services. If you are not enrolled, you will have to pay for medical expenses independently.

See medical insurance for international students to learn about the differences between guard.me, MSP, and the NISU/Green Shield Health and Dental Plan.

If you will live in BC for 6 months or longer, you are required by law to enrol in MSP and pay the plan’s health-care coverage fee.

You must apply for MSP as soon as you arrive in BC. You cannot apply for MSP before you arrive.

Apply for MSP

When to apply

As soon as you have a permanent address after arriving in Canada.

Cost

$75 per month for study permit holders

Processing time

1-2 months; coverage begins after a waiting period (the remainder of the month of arrival plus 2 full calendar months)

How

Online (recommended) or by mail

Supporting documents

International students: Copy of valid study permit or work permit such as Post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit

Implied Status and MSP:

If you are reapplying for MSP after being on implied status, include a copy of the IRCC submission confirmation (PDF) confirming that they received your application. To find your confirmation, log in to your MyCIC account.

Temporary BC residents (such as international students and workers) will typically be issued a non-photo BC Services Card. Carry your card with you as well as a digital or paper copy of your valid study permit or work permit (such as post-graduation or spouse/partner work permit)

You can also apply for a BC driver’s license and/or BC photo ID by submitting a separate application.

There is a three-month waiting period before MSP coverage begins: this is the balance of the month in which you arrive in British Columbia (BC), plus two full calendar months. For example, if you arrive in BC on August 25, you are eligible for MSP coverage starting November 1.

To cover the waiting period for MSP, most new international students are covered by guard.me temporary medical insurance for your first three months in BC. To avoid any lapse in coverage students will be re-enrolled in the guard.me plan at the end of the 90 days. However, students can quickly opt-out of the subsequent guard.me enrolment by signing off on the declaration and providing MSP dates. Failure to opt-out will result in additional guard.me charges on the student NIC account.

It is the student’s responsibility to enroll in MSP and opt-out of guard.me.

If you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit, you must apply to extend your MSP, otherwise you will not be covered. 

If your study permit expires before you receive your new study or work permit, it’s very important that you notify isa@nic.bc.ca in order to be re-enrolled in temporary guard.me to avoid any lapse in coverage.  

As of January 1, 2020, all study permit holders are assessed a $75 health-care coverage fee per month. You must pay the British Columbia government directly.

If your family is with you in Canada, they will only be assessed the new health-care coverage fee if they also hold study permits. If they hold work permits or are here as visitors, they will not be assessed the fee.

The fees are subject to change. Check the MSP website for the most up-to-date information.

Changing from study permit to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

Even if your MSP coverage has not expired, once you get your PGWP, contact MSP by phone to update your account and request to have your fees changed. As a work permit holder, you do not need to pay the health-care coverage fee.  

When your application is processed, your MSP card, or BC Services Card, will be mailed to the address you provided in your application. Your BC Services Card will indicate your coverage period, which should match the expiration date of your study permit or work permit.

In most cases, you will not have to pay at the time you seek care for medically required services when you show your BC Services Card. 

MSP does not cover dental care, prescription drugs, routine vision care such as eye examinations or corrective lenses, or travel. The NISU/Green Shield Pan is designed to cover these costs.

See a full list of your  medical and health care benefits provided by MSP.

In general, you should go to clinics for non-urgent medical care, and hospitals for emergencies. For emergencies and for an ambulance, call 911. To learn about accessing medical services in BC, see how to services and resources in BC or explore the BC Newcomers’ Guide, which is available in 8 languages.

MSP will send you an invoice in the mail each month. You need to start making payments after you receive the invoice.

Remember to tell MSP if you change your address, change your name, leave BC permanently, or need to add/remove dependents to or from your coverage (for example you get married, divorced, have a common-law partner, or have children). See the Managing your MSP Account page.

Remember to keep your MSP valid by extending your MSP coverage each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada (for example, when you extend your study permit or get a Post-Graduation Work Permit).

Generally, your MSP coverage will have the same expiry date as your status in Canada, such as the expiry date of your study permit or Post-Graduation Work Permit. 

If you extend your immigration documents, make sure you extend your MSP coverage as soon as you get your new study or work permit.

Extend your MSP

If you applied for a new immigration document before the old one expired, such as a study or work permit, you remain in Canada and you won’t receive the new one before your old document expires, you will have “maintained status". Since your BC MSP will end on the expiry date of your current immigration document, you must take action to get health insurance coverage before your MSP expires.You are required to notify OGE when your MSP expires by emailing isa@nic.bc.ca  Without valid health insurance, you will need to pay for any health services which can total in the thousands. .

You might not be able to be covered under MSP until you provide proof of your new immigration document such as a copy of your study permit or post-graduation work permit, and are re-enrolled.

Before you get your new immigration document

You should call MSP to request continuous coverage while you are on maintained status. This is particularly important if you have a pre-existing condition which may not be covered by private health insurance, such as pregnancy. 

If MSP approves continuous coverage, ask them to confirm what your coverage start date will be. 

You will need to submit an MSP extension application and provide the following instead of a copy of your study or work permit:

  • A letter written by yourself explaining your status and your request for continuing coverage, such as, “I would like to request continuous coverage of BC MSP as I applied to extend my immigration documents before my BC MSP and immigration status expired and was advised by a Health Insurance BC agent that I am eligible for coverage during maintained status”, and
  • A copy of the IRCC submission confirmation (PDF) confirming that they received your application. To find your confirmation, log in to your IRCC online account.

If MSP is not able to provide continuous coverage, purchase private temporary health insurance, email ISA@nic.bc.ca so that we can re-enroll you in the guard.me plan and ensure you have temporary coverage until you have confirmation you are covered under MSP again.

After you get your new immigration document

Once you get your new immigration document, you will need to extend or reapply for MSP. 

If you were approved for continuous coverage, apply to MSP extension application with a copy of your new study or work permit.

If you were not approved for continuous coverage, depending on the length of the gap in MSP coverage, you will either be able to get an extension of your MSP, or you will need to reapply for MSP. You must contact MSP by phone to confirm your eligibility as it will depend on your individual circumstances.  

If you will need to reapply for MSP and serve the 3-month MSP waiting period again, you must email isa@nic.bc.ca to get re-enrolled in guard.me temporary private insurance, to cover you during the 3-month waiting period.

Maintaining your MSP eligibility

If you’re leaving British Columbia (BC) temporarily due to a co-op placement or travel plans, you will continue being billed for your health-care coverage fee. 

To remain eligible for MSP, you need to live in BC for a minimum of 6 months in one calendar year. If you are absent from BC for more than 6 months, you may need to re-apply when you return to the province and go through the approximately 3-month waiting period again. Please email isa@nic.bc.ca to enroll in temporary guard.me insurance if you have left BC for more than 6 months and are returning to study at NIC again.

For example, if you live outside of BC between May and December in 2021, you may need to reapply for your health insurance. However, if you are away from BC between September 2021 and April 2022, you remain eligible for MSP because you are only absent from the province for 4 months in each calendar year.

For more information, visit the Leaving BC Temporarily website

Before leaving BC

Make sure you understand MSP’s residency requirements  and call MSP to discuss how your coverage could be impacted by travel plans.

If you will be in another Canadian province or territory

You might be able to continue to use MSP coverage for 3 months outside of BC, which could be used to cover your waiting period in another province or territory. To confirm your eligibility for coverage outside of BC and options to cancel your MSP, contact MSP by phone.

Different provinces and territories in Canada have their own health insurance plans and they do not all provide coverage for international students. Check with the province or territory’s health insurance plan if you are eligible to join and how to apply.

If your family members plan to reside in BC for six months or more, they may also be eligible for MSP.

If your family members arrive in BC with you within the same calendar month, you can all apply for MSP at the same time. 

If your family members arrive in BC at a later date (outside of the same calendar month), use the MSP Account Change form to add them to your existing MSP. 

Remember to include photocopies of every family members’ Canadian status document (such as a study permit, visitor record, or work permit) valid for six months or more in the application. Some visitors will only have an entry stamp in their passports; use this as their status document.

Also remember that your family members will need to go through the three-month waiting period and you can purchase a temporary health insurance with guard.me for that period. For more information please refer to the guard.me dependent plan.

If your child is born in BC, you can add them to your MSP.

See adding or removing dependents to learn more. 

You are automatically enrolled in the Students’ Union’s Green Shield health and dental plan when you register in courses. This benefit package is only required and provided to students who are in full-time programming for more than one semester. (Exchange students will not qualify). For students in full-time programs 6 months or longer:

Coverage includes:

  • dental benefits
  • health benefits
  • travel benefits
  • vision benefits

FAST FACTS ABOUT GREENSHIELD:

Please book your appointment online or contact Student Services to make an appointment:

  • Campbell River/Mixalakwila: 250-923-9700 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)
  • Comox Valley: 250-334-5000 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)
  • Port Alberni: 250-724-8711 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)

For additional or after-hours support, the following resources are available:

  • Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888
  • Vancouver Island Crisis Text: 250-800-3806

For students in Canada and the US call: 1.844.451.9700

  • Here2Talk: Here2Talk connects students with mental health support when they need it. Through this program, all students currently registered in a B.C. post-secondary institution have access to free, confidential counselling and community referral services, conveniently available 24/7 via app, phone and web. This service is available to you anywhere in the world if you are a currently enrolled international student at NIC.

Canada-wide toll free, dial: 1-877-857-3397

Canada-wide direct, dial: 604-642-5212

If you are accessing from outside Canada. International calling charges may apply, dial: +1-604-642-5212

For those who have general questions, please contact our Student Life department:

Each community with an NIC campus has options for you to see a doctor for non-urgent care. Many students use walk-in clinics in their community, as walk-in clinics do not require appointments.

A walk-in clinic allows you to see the doctor on duty but there is no guarantee you will see the same doctor the next time you go in. If you have a condition in which you need to see a doctor on a regular basis, you will need to find a new doctor accepting new patients. A good place to find out which doctors are accepting new patients is the walk-in clinics. Please ask them directly and they will be able to provide you with this option.

Many students are now using Mobile Doctors. Mobile doctors are a “virtual” doctor. You do not have to leave your home. You can meet with at doctor through a phone appointment.

If you are still enrolled in Guard Me, you can use their mobile doctor program: https://www.guard.me/nic/mobiledoctor

If you are no longer on Guard Me you can access the following mobile doctor program provided through Green Shield students: https://goevisit.com/

You can also call 8-1-1 if you are unsure whether you need to see a doctor or not. This is a pre-screening call and a medical practitioner will assess your need on the telephone to determine if you need to see a doctor.

Just remember, if you, or someone in your care, has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life threatening. Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to toxic substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.

The emergency room at the hospital should be used for very serious situations including severe pain, inability to breathe and bleeding that will not stop. If you are not sure if you should go to the emergency room, call the BC Nurse Line Toll Free at: 1-866-215-4700 to ask for advice. Be sure to bring the following with you:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Documentation Card
  • Money or other payment method (just in case)

Reminder, cell phone use is often not permitted in hospitals and clinics. Please be sure to check for signs on use of phones when visiting these facilities.

North Island Hospital Comox Valley
101 Lerwick Road, Courtenay, BC, V9N 9H1
Phone: 250-331-5900
Emergency room open 24 hours a day

Campbell River Hospital
375 2nd Ave, Campbell River, BC V9W 3V1
Phone: 250-286-7100
Emergency room open 24 hours a day

West Coast General Hospital
3949 Port Alberni Highway, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 4S1
Phone: 250-731-1370
Emergency room open 24 hours a day