1. How can newcomers get medical service in the first three months after arriving in Canada?
After arriving in Canada you usually have to wait three months to receive a health card and during this period you will have to pay for medical services. The cost of a visit to a doctor is between 50 and 100 dollars. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy private insurance, the cost of which will depend on the number of family members you have, their age and health. If you do buy private insurance, find out exactly what medical services it covers. For example, with the insurance company Ontario Blue Cross, (185 The West Mall, Suite 610, Etobicoke, Ontario M9C 5P1, phone 1-866-732-2583), the approximate cost of a three-month insurance plan for a family of three people is about $8 per day.
Community Health Centres offer free first-aid services to immigrants, refugees and newcomers of all ages who do not have health cards or private insurance. They also offer, when necessary, vaccinations and first aid at home. In Toronto you can get free medical care from the charity Unison (http://unisonhcs.org). Service is available in four districts of Toronto: Bathurst-Finch (5987 Bathurst St. Suite 104), Lawrence Heights (12 Flemington Road), Jane-Trethewey (1541 Jane Street) and Keele-Rogers (1651 Keele Street).
2. How can I find a family doctor?
When you get a health card, you can find a family doctor who will treat you without charge. Ask your friends or relatives living in Canada for advice about finding a family doctor or:
•Apply to the program Health Care Connect.
•Ask a Community Health Centre (www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/contact/chc/chcloc_mn.html).
•Contact an immigrant-serving organization.
•Ask the nearest hospital.
•Look in the phone book under the section "Physicians & Surgeons".
Sometimes, doctors taking new patients will advertise in local newspapers.
3. Where can I get medical care if I do not have a family doctor?
Before you find a family doctor, just bring your health card to any walk-in clinic, without setting up an appointment. Admission is free of charge although there may be queues for service. There you can receive a check up, get medical prescriptions and, if necessary, be referred to a specialist. At your second visit to the same walk-in clinic, you will not necessarily see the same doctor. If you do not have a health card when using walk-in clinic services, you will have to pay for your visit, but the fee will depend on your financial situation, so bring a document that provides information regarding your income. In Ontario, walk-in clinics can be found in the telephone directory by turning to the section "Clinics-medical”.
4. Where can I get medical care in the evenings and on weekends?
Use the free Health Advisory Service (in Ontario telephone 1-866-553-725), which runs from 5 to 9 pm and on weekends and holidays around the clock. You will get the address of the nearest clinic that is open late at night or around the clock, but before you go, call and ask about the details. Another option is to call Health Care Options Directory 1-866-330-6206 and you will be told where to find a clinic that is open outside of regular hours. Also visit www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/hco/options/walkin.aspx.
5. How do I get to the hospital?
As a rule, hospitals take patients at the direction of the physician or if they arrive in an ambulance. But you can come independently to any hospital, regardless of your place of residence. If you have a health card, treatment in the hospital will be free of charge. If you have no health card, if you need immediate care, the hospital will still take you, and send a bill to your address later for the treatment. The estimated cost of hospital services for foreigners: for an examination in the emergency room is up to $1,000, a stay in the ward with regular treatment is up to $ 3,000 per day and staying in the intensive care unit is up to $ 8,000. It is recommended that tourists to Canada buy insurance for $50,000. Immigrants with permanent resident status in Canada without a health card pay about half price. If you need surgery, it is free with a health card. For foreigners, the cost of surgery can reach $20,000.
6. Can a doctor visit my house?
Health care in Canada provides doctor's visits on call. If you have a health card a doctor will come to your home for free at your request, but it will be not your family doctor. In Toronto and surrounding suburbs call 416-631-3000 to find a home-visiting doctor. These services are provided by the organization MedVisit Doctors House Call Service, whose business hours are from 8 am to 12 midnight daily. Another option is to call a doctor in Toronto toll-free at 1-877-888-8300. This service is called Toronto Housecalls and runs Monday-Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (https://www.medvisit.ca/medvisit.ca/index.html). If you have no health card you will pay about $150 for a doctor's visit. How fast the doctor will come depends on your medical condition, where you live and how busy the doctors providing this service are. Waiting may take an hour or two, so it is the best to call in advance, but if you cannot wait, you will have to call an ambulance.
7. Where can I find a medical laboratory?
There are medical laboratories in most medical centres and hospitals in Canada. They perform tests under a doctor's requisition. Usually, medical laboratories perform blood, urine and feces tests, X-rays, ultrasound diagnosis and much more. If these tests are necessary for the purpose of treating your condition and are covered by your health card, they are free. Some special tests are not covered by your health card. Your doctor will inform you in advance as to whether the test is covered and if not, you will have to pay for the cost of the test yourself.
8. How can I set up an appointment with a medical specialist?
Medical specialists in Canada usually treat patients under the direction of a physician, who often sets up your first appointment. If a medical specialist is too busy, you will be included on the waiting list and the waiting time will depend on your medical condition and the urgency of care. If you are not satisfied with the timing you will have to choose another specialist. After the first visit to a medical specialist you will be able to make the next appointment by yourself. Here is a brief list of medical specialists:
9. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
Yes, visit: Understanding Health Care in Ontario: Fact Sheets in 27 languages