Free Resources for More Affordable Diabetes Care


If you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D), your head might be spinning—and not just from high blood sugar levels. You might have heard that self-management is a key part of your diabetes care, but that can be overwhelming.

You might feel like you need to become your own multidisciplinary care team overnight. Suddenly, you’re asked to check your own blood glucose levels, stick to meal plans and get regular exercise—maybe even manage multiple medications—on top of learning all about T2D.

That’s not all: diabetes management isn’t cheap. Pharmacy costs alone—including insulin, blood glucose monitor test strips and oral antidiabetic medications—might set you back over $2,000 a year. Good thing financial support is available.

Just like you’re not alone when it comes to diabetes management, you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—pick up the whole tab for it either.

Medication, device and supply coverage

As someone living with diabetes, you should have timely access to medications, supplies and devices that are right for you, regardless of where you live in Canada. You deserve the best possible care and quality of life; a limited budget shouldn’t get in the way of that.

A manual to get started

Diabetes Canada has put together a detailed diabetes resources manual to help people living with diabetes get information on financial assistance programs.

Use this manual to get coverage information based on the province or territory you live in, which may include:

  • Diabetes supplies
  • Prescription medications
  • Income assistance
  • Disability coverage

This manual also lists resources where you can get free diabetes-related information and services, such as:

  • Diabetes education centers
  • Exercise programs
  • Meal planning and food banks
  • Support groups
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Aboriginal-specific resources

RAMQ and NIHB coverage

The diabetes resources manual does not have coverage information for Quebec. If you live in Quebec, the RAMQ provides financial assistance for many prescription drugs and medical services, some of which are free of charge. You can also reach out to InfoDiabetes—a free diabetes information and reference service offered by Diabetes Quebec—for additional support.

The Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program provides eligible First Nations and Inuit members with coverage for a range of health benefits not covered through public or private insurance plans.

If you’re not covered

Each province and territory has its own list of medications, devices and supplies it covers—called a formulary—and eligibility criteria based on age, income and other factors. You can check this medications formulary chart to see if a drug is covered. Most provinces and territories also have insulin pumps and supplies programs.

I was denied coverage

If you were denied coverage for a drug or device, you can review the coverage conditions of your public or private insurance plan with your health care team to see if you might be eligible. If you’re not, ask them what other options are available.

Drugs not available in Canada

If you’re considering a medication not available in Canada, your doctor can apply to Health Canada’s Special Access Program (SAP) for you. There may be out-of-pocket costs, but some drugs released through SAP are free. And remember, asking is always free!

Knowledge is power (and free)

You’re not alone in managing your diabetes and putting together a solid health care team is key to living well with diabetes.

Finding your support system can help you feel less overwhelmed, but you will always be the most important member of your care team! Learning about T2D means you’ll know how to take care of your own physical health and emotional well-being better than most people.

Diabetes Canada has a lot of free tools and resources to get you started, including Just the Basics.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, here are a few more free resources you might find useful:

  • A quick guide to healthy eating
  • Videos, including a guide to injecting insulin and a physical activity and exercise toolkit
  • Podcasts for when you’re on the go or busy making yourself a healthy meal
  • Virtual learning resources, including classes, webinars and even deep dives
  • A physical activity fact sheet to help you know the what, when and how of exercise

If you can’t find the support you need or an answer to a specific question, you can:

Living with and managing your diabetes doesn’t have to be lonely, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Help is available in many forms, many of which are free!


Written By Patrick Boisvert, Posted , Updated 09/21/23

Patrick holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Dalhousie University and an M.Sc. in Human Genetics from McGill University. He has been a medical writer for 10 years and is happiest when he works on projects that can have a direct impact on the well-being of patients, such as those related to diabetes awareness and education. When not working, he enjoys hiking, running, cooking and reading fantasy novels.