Healthcare In Ontario

Healthcare in Ontario is only provided for eligible residents of the Province. As with all of Canada, it is imperative to have some kind of health insurance as the cost of healthcare is very expensive.

Healthcare in Ontario is administered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and will cover a wide range of necessary medical services. Therefore, all residents of Ontario must have a Health Card to prove that they are eligible for services paid for by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).

As of July 1st 2004 an OHIP premium is payable and will be deducted from employee pay and pension cheques through the income tax system. The total of the Annual Premium you will be charged for healthcare in Ontario will be determined when you file your annual income tax return. Individuals with a taxable income of $20,000 or less at the end of the tax year will pay no premium.

If you have any questions regarding your initial premiums as an immigrant, please contact the Ontario Ministry Of Finance on 1-800-263-7965 or via the Government website link above. Ontario is currently the only province to base the premium on your income.

To be eligible for OHIP you must be a Canadian citizen or have immigration status, make your permanent and primary home in Ontario and be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12 month period. For new or returning residents to Ontario there is a three month waiting period to become eligible. It is advisable to purchase a private health insurance for this period to cover for any medical costs.

As the OHIP only covers Necessary Medical Treatment it is highly recommended that you have additional coverage. Prescription drugs, dental care and even a trip in an ambulance can be very expensive. Benefit packages that cover your healthcare in Ontario are sometimes offered by employers or alternatively you can purchase your own, private plan.

Health Issues

As a whole there are very few serious issues that concern healthcare in Ontario. The two major illnesses that have hit the headlines are the SARS outbreak (2003) and the continued threat of West Nile Virus. SARS originates form the Far East (China in particular) and the main outbreaks were in Toronto and Vancouver. Several other canadians contracted the illness through Far Eastern travel. Fortunately, over the past few years there were hardly any confirmed cases in Canada and hopefully, effective treatment and vaccinations will reduce the threat further.

With the arrival of the summer comes the Mosquito. Unfortunately mosquito's are everywhere - especially near water - and some carry the West Nile Virus that is known to cause illness in humans to varying degrees. It does seem that the younger you are the less prone to the effects, though this is by no means clinically proven.

The best protection is to avoid being bitten in the first place, so wear long sleeves and pants (trousers) with a good quality repellant. The best one we have found is "Deep Woods Off" that also comes in a kids formula. Stay away from bodies of still or stagnant water especially around evening time when they are most active.

If you feel the symptoms (see link above) see a doctor as soon as possible. Both subjects are also covered with local information on the Ministry of Health and LongTerm Care homepage.