Can I get healthcare services after I make a refugee claim in Canada?

3. Find a doctor or other healthcare provider

You will need a doctor to complete your medical exam. And you will need a healthcare provider for all your other medical needs.

Immigration medical exams

Your Immigration Medical Exam (IME) must be completed by a “panel physician”. A panel physician is a doctor that has been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You can use this list to find a doctor in your city.

Other medical needs

For all other medical needs, you can choose any healthcare provider as long as they are registered with Medavie Blue Cross. Medavie Blue Cross is the company that manages the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) claims.

You can use this list to find out if a healthcare provider is registered. Or you can ask the healthcare provider if they are registered when you call to find out if they are accepting new patients.

Family doctors are often the first doctors to diagnose and treat most medical problems. If you need to see a specialist, you usually need a family doctor to refer you. Family doctors can also order laboratory tests and other tests.

To find a family doctor, you can:

  • ask a friend or family member if their doctor is accepting new patients,
  • ask the nearest hospital if it has a family practice unit, or
  • use the Doctor Search on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website. You can search for a doctor that speaks your language, is in your community, or has a specialization you may need.

You can also ask a worker at your local settlement agency or community health centre. They might have a list of doctors who are accepting new patients or who speak your language.

The Refugee Health Line helps refugees find doctors who can do your initial medical assessments and refer you to other healthcare services. To use this service, call 1-866-286-4770.

There is a shortage of family doctors in some areas of Ontario. So it may take you some time to find a doctor.

Mental health services

If you or your family members need help coping with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, there are clinics and agencies that specialize in mental health services for refugees.

If you're experiencing any mental health challenges, including trouble sleeping, remembering things, or talking about what happened to you, you should talk to your lawyer or legal representative. They might recommend that you get an assessment from a psychiatrist or other mental health care provider. Their report could be an important part of the at your refugee hearing.

The cost of the assessment is not covered by IFHP or by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO).

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