Many Canadians have a family doctor they go to whenever they need medical care. A family doctor provides all basic health care, including treating you when you are sick and encouraging preventative health care. This means that they will do tests so that problems can be found and treated early before you get sick (for example, blood tests, blood pressure checks and pap smears). Your family doctor will send you to see a specialist when needed.
You may be able to find a doctor by looking on the internet or by obtaining a recommendation, either from someone you know or from an immigrant-serving organization (list of immigrant-serving organizations). It can sometimes be difficult to find a family doctor who is accepting more patients.
If you need to see your family doctor, call and make an appointment. When a doctor accepts to be your family doctor, make sure you know if there are rules or conditions. Ask questions if necessary: how often can you make an appointment? What should you do if you need to see the doctor when the clinic is not opened?
If you do not have a family doctor, you can contact a community health centre (or a Centre local de services communautaires in Quebec) in your area to learn when a doctor is available. You can also go to a medical clinic where you can generally see a doctor without an appointment. Listings for community health centres and medical clinics are available in the Yellow pages or by searching the Internet.
In Canada, health services are provided in a confidential manner. This means that your doctor cannot discuss your health information with someone else without your permission.
You can find a dentist by looking on the internet. It is generally not a problem to find a dentist who is accepting new patients. Remember: dental care is not covered by free government health insurance. However, you can get supplementary insurance to cover your dental care.
If you need urgent medical help, quickly go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital or telephone the emergency number (911). Hospitals are listed in the front pages of the telephone book.
It is free to call 911. All emergency medical services are also free in hospitals. Depending on the province or territory and the circumstances, you might have to pay for ambulance services. Consult the website of your provincial or territorial department of health for more information on ambulance services. If you have private health insurance, these services are often covered.
If you have a serious medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or allergies to medications, ask your doctor if you should carry medical information with you on a medical necklace or bracelet. This will provide useful information to health professionals in case of an emergency.
Source: Welcome to Canada: What you should know
www.cic.gc.ca, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2013.