Healthcare in Ottawa
Expats moving to Ottawa will soon see that health and wellness are a priority for the residents of Canada’s clean and green capital city.
New arrivals will be pleased to find that, as is the case in the rest of the country, Ottawa offers an excellent standard of healthcare facilities.
Generally, all doctors and medical staff at public and private hospitals will speak fluent English and/or French.
Public healthcare in Ottawa
Public healthcare in Ottawa is administered by Ottawa Public Health, the city’s arm of the federal government plan responsible for delivering public health services.
As Ottawa falls under the province of Ontario, expats living in the city will be entitled to access the province's publicly funded healthcare system, which is available through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). OHIP contributions are automatically deducted from an individual's salary in taxes.
Expats need to be aware that there is a three-month waiting period before OHIP coverage starts for new arrivals. Expats should apply for their OHIP card as soon as they arrive in the city and ensure that they have purchased some form of private coverage for their first three months in Canada.
Public hospitals in Ottawa provide a good standard of care but waiting lists can sometimes be long. Another problem expats experience with the public health system in Canada is that, while the city has lots of hospitals and medical clinics, it is difficult to find a family doctor or general practitioner (GP). Most family doctors in Ottawa have long lists of patients and many clinics put limits on accepting new patients.
It is a good idea to ask co-workers and friends for recommendations on any doctors that are still accepting new patients. Expats can also contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for help in finding a GP.
While waiting to find a doctor, expats can still visit their local walk-in clinic for emergencies or for check-ups. Walk-in medical clinics in Ottawa provide prompt medical care for people who are sick but do not have a family doctor. While patients will generally be seen by a nurse rather than a doctor, they are able to treat most minor illnesses and will refer patients to a doctor if they suspect something more serious. Generally, appointments are not needed but it is best to call before visiting to check the opening hours, as they are often subject to change.
Expats should be aware that they will be required to pay for any prescription medicines, as these are not covered by the state’s public health insurance policy.
Private healthcare in Ottawa
Most expats living in Ottawa will have some additional health insurance coverage from their employer which will entitle them to treatment at private hospitals.
The standard of private hospitals in Ottawa is excellent for expats who can afford treatment. Ottawa is home to some of Canada’s top specialist facilities such as the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
Expats with private health coverage should be aware that most health insurance policies in Canada do not cover them for dental and vision care.
Most private health insurance policies will cover the cost of medicines but patients should keep all receipts in order to be reimbursed.
Recommended hospitals in Ottawa
The Ottawa Hospital
Address: 501 Smyth Rd, Ottawa
The Queensway Carleton Hospital
Address: 3045 Baseline Rd, Ottawa
The University of Ottawa Heart Institute
Address: 40 Ruskin St, Ottawa
The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Address: 401 Smyth Rd, Ottawa
Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre
Address: 1145 Carling Ave, Ottawa