How universal is Canada’s ‘universal healthcare’?

If you don’t live in Canada, you may have heard about our lovely universal healthcare. Universal sounds just great, everything for everyone! Whatever you need, you get it for free.

If you live in Canada and haven’t needed serious healthcare, maybe you also believe this story.

I have depression. Yes, I have been diagnosed by a doctor (not that it should matter).

Here is a list of things not covered (read: I pay for these while dealing with recovering from illness and the decrease in income that brings):

Medication that keeps me alive.

You read that right. My medication is not covered by universal healthcare. Medication is not for everyone, it doesn’t help everyone, it’s not an all encompassing fix. However, I have needed it.

You’ve heard that depression kills, right? Somehow we seem to talk about suicide and try to mourn, but we don’t talk about what causes it. It’s depression.

This medication literally keeps. me. alive. And it’s not covered.

Counselling that gets me through.

I paid (ridiculously high prices) out of pocket because I needed to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in the situations in my life. Life and death situations.

I think all counsellors provide such valuable services and should be paid generously. But not by me. Not when I have to spend my entire day’s salary on an after work appointment to discuss whether I should quit my job.

Vitamins, prescribed by my doctor. 

My doctor told me to take iron, B12, DHA and vitamin D supplments. None are covered by universal healthcare even though with anemia and seasonal depression I need them.

A light lamp, prescribed by my doctor. 

Light lamps may be just as effective as other treatments for SAD, but to buy a good one you need money.

A vacation.

Yes, I’m being serious. You know what really works? Getting sun! Being able to go outside! It’s actually recommended as a treatment by the Canadian Mental Health Association for SAD. I’ve tried it, it works!

How about universal healthcare pays for me to travel somewhere hot and sunny every November? They might not need to pay for all the other things then.


This is called EQUITY. This is what it takes for me to be starting from where others start from when it comes to mental wellness. Right now I pay for any of these things I can.

I think everyone deserves wellness and balance and I hope you all find support in getting yours.


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