Many newcomers come to Canada with their families. Besides renting a home and choosing a school, it is important that you find access to medical care, and a family doctor who becomes familiar with your family’s medical history.
5 Things to Know About Healthcare Services in Canada:
1. The Starting Point
You are entitled to health care services paid for by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website (www.health.gov.on.ca) provides information on how to get a OHIP Health Card.
2. Waiting Period
You will have to wait THREE MONTHS before receiving government health insurance. Make sure you have private health insurance to cover your health-care needs during this waiting period.
3. Family Doctor
Many Canadians have a family doctor for medical care. A family doctor gives basic health care, including treating you when you are sick and encouraging preventative health care.
For non-emergency situations, walk-in clinics are a great option if you haven’t found a family doctor or if the office is closed. Other options include contacting Community Health Centre (CHC), Telehealth Ontario, or a doctor house call service.
TIPS for Finding a Family Doctor:
- Ask a friend or family member if their doctor is accepting new patients.
- Register with Health Care Connect. This program refers you to a local doctor or nurse practitioner who is accepting new patients. You need to have OHIP as it is run by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. To register, call 1-800-445-1822.
- Use the Doctor Search service. It is run by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. You can also call 1-800-268-7096 ext. 626. If you are in Toronto, call 416-967-2626.
- You can also ask at your local settlement agency. They might have a list of doctors who are accepting new patients or who speak your language.
- When you contact a doctor, you need to find out if she or he is accepting new patients.
4. Emergency Medical Help
If you need urgent medical help, go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, or call 911 (which is a free call). All emergency medical services are free in hospitals. Depending on the province or territory and the situation, you may have to pay for ambulance services.
Immunizations are one of the best ways to protect yourself and your children from getting serious diseases. If your family was not fully vaccinated against preventable diseases before coming to Canada, you should contact a doctor or local public health clinic to schedule an appointment.
Canada cares for the people who have chosen to live in this beautiful land. From nourishing food, to clean drinking water, to regulated beaches and protected land, the country does a lot to ensure its people stay happy and healthy.