HOW TO ACCESS HEALTHCARE IN CANADA | TIPS FOR NEWCOMERS
Updated: May 6
Many of our clients ask us how the healthcare system in Canada works. Most newcomers know that healthcare is provided by the Government of Canada but they aren’t sure to what extent. Further, they often don’t know how to access healthcare. Today, Jade offers advice for newcomers on how to access healthcare and find a doctor in Canada.
HOW DO I FIND A DOCTOR?
A family doctor is your primary health care provider. You schedule an appointment with your family physician when you have a new non-emergency health concern.
Healthcare in Canada is overseen by the provinces and territories. Unfortunately, if you come to Canada as a Temporary Resident, you do not qualify for any provincial healthcare. In other words, visitors in Canada are not funded by the government and they would have to pay out of pocket should any medical issues arise. So, if you’re in Canada as a visitor, I recommend that you purchase medical insurance to cover you in the case of an emergency.
If you’re in Canada as a worker or student (rather than a visitor), I would offer slightly different advice. As a student, you pay for private insurance through your school. If you look at the breakdown of fees in your tuition, you will see a line for health care. So, in a medical emergency, you would have coverage because you have already paid for insurance.
As a worker, you may qualify for an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card for medical coverage. In order to apply for an OHIP card, you must prove that you work full time in a permanent position. To apply, you would take your job contract or a letter from your employer to Service Ontario. The contract will have the terms of your employment listed. If you opt to bring a letter, it must state that you work full time (30 hours a week or more) in a permanent position (for a duration of 6 months or longer).
It’s important to note that there is a waiting time involved in accessing OHIP. It typically takes about 3 months for OHIP coverage to kick in. For this reason, I advise newcomers to purchase medical insurance for the period between their arrival and the date they receive their OHIP card to ensure they are covered in case of an accident.
As a Permanent Resident, you will follow the same process as a Temporary Resident. However, you don’t need to prove that you have a job. Instead, you must provide proof that you reside in Ontario. So, you would go to Service Ontario and certify that you live in the province. To do this, you can bring a utility bill and a piece of mail as evidence. If you are a Permanent Resident, I still recommend that you purchase medical insurance while you wait for OHIP to kick in.
WHAT MEDICAL CARE CAN YOU ACCESS THROUGH OHIP?
When you are covered by OHIP, you can access most physicians and specialized physicians free of charge. However, it’s important to note that there is currently a shortage of doctors in Canada. As such, you should register for Healthcare Connect. Healthcare Connect will put you on a waiting list to be assigned to a family physician.
A family physician is a local doctor that you can see for medical non-emergencies.
WHEN SHOULD I REGISTER FOR HEALTHCARE CONNECT?
For Permanent Residents, I recommend registering for Healthcare Connect when they know they are moving to Canada. The sooner you can be placed on the waiting list, the better.
Some people are covered through additional medical insurance through their employer. However, you can only access these benefits with an OHIP card. So, even if you’re covered for medical benefits with your employer, you have to wait until you’re eligible for an OHIP card in order to access these additional benefits.
Calver and Associates is a leading provider of Canadian Immigration services in Durham Region. We serve clients in Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, and beyond. Our Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant has over 10 years of experience in Canadian Immigration law and over four years of experience serving those in the Oshawa area.
We can provide assistance with applications for both temporary and permanent residency in Canada. We handle applications for study permits, permanent residency, family class sponsorship, visitor visas, work permits, and Canadian citizenship. We also handle criminal inadmissibility cases by developing remedies for refusal.