ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletins 111 – April 27, 2009

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Open Work Permits and Provincial Health Insurance in Ontario and Quebec


Unlike most work permits, an “open” work permit does not specify the employer. An open work permit may, however, have restrictions associated to it in terms of the employment location and/or occupation. In general, an applicant for a post-graduation work permit will receive an open work permit. For more information on open work permits, please consult page 82 of the Foreign Worker Manual.

Due to issues in obtaining health coverage in Ontario and Quebec, the question has been raised over whether a post-graduation student who is eligible for an open work permit can request that the name of a specific employer and the province be included on the work permit, in order to assist in qualifying for health insurance.

Prior to April 1, 2009, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provided health coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) only to those holding a work permit that specified an employer and occupation.

In Quebec, post graduate workers were also required to present a work permit with the name of a specific employer and location of work; otherwise, they were not eligible for provincial medical coverage.

Current Status

As of April 1, 2009, Ontario open work permit holders and their spouse/dependants will be eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage, provided the foreign worker:

  • will be employed full-time for an employer in Ontario for a minimum of six months;
  • has a valid work permit during this time; and
  • meets the residency and physical presence requirements to be eligible for OHIP.

Note that all applicants are subject to a three-month waiting period, from the time of eligibility.

For more information, questions and answers, open work permit holders may visit the following links of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website:

If not covered by another province/territory during the three-month waiting period for OHIP, temporary foreign workers (TFWs) may wish to buy private health insurance until Ontario health insurance coverage becomes effective. For private health insurance, TFWs should contact a private insurance company directly or call the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. at 1-800-268-8099.

In Quebec, post-graduation work permit holders may obtain medical coverage through the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). To do so, post-graduation work permit holders must present a valid work permit that has “Post-Graduation Work Permit Program” written in the visible Remarks section.

General Guidelines

Citizenship and Immigration Canada officers should indicate in the Remarks section of the work permit when someone is being issued a work permit for the “Post Graduation Work Permit Program” in Quebec.

Health care coverage falls under Provincial jurisdiction. Questions pertaining to health care and health care coverage eligibility should be directed accordingly to:

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