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The healthcare system in Toronto is publicly funded by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which affords coverage to all residents of the Ontario province.
This comes at a minimal monthly premium paid through automatic income tax deductions, and allows free access to doctors, specialists and all necessary medical surgeries. Co-payments are minimal or non-applicable.
Unfortunately, only Toronto expats who have residence or work permits are eligible for the tax-funded health insurance plan, so those who don’t will need to rely on private health insurance.
Getting public health insurance in Toronto
Expats moving to Toronto must visit a ServiceOntario centre in person to apply for their Toronto health care. Applicants must bring proof of identity (such as their passport), evidence of their OHIP-eligible immigration status (such as a Permanent Resident Card), and confirmation that they live in Toronto (such as a local driver's licence or tax assessment).
Once approved, a card which gives access to the OHIP through a personal health number is posted to the applicant's home and should be carried at all times. In the interim, between applying for the CareCard and receiving it, expats should secure private health insurance.
The OHIP covers its members throughout Canada, provided that Ontario is their place of residence and they spend more than six months of the year in the province.
While the healthcare system is excellent and the medical professionals well trained, the system often falls victim to the pitfalls of bureaucracy. Waiting periods can be long and it is often difficult to find a general practitioner willing to take on new patients.
For this reason, some expats opt to take out private insurance. Private insurance also provides comforts not covered by the public insurance, such as private hospital rooms and dental and optometry services.
Hospitals in Toronto
Below are some of the most prominent hospitals in Toronto.
Mount Sinai Hospital
Address: 600 University Avenue, Toronto
St Michael's Hospital
Address: 36 Queen St E, Toronto
The Hospital for Sick Kids
Address: 555 University Avenue, Toronto
Toronto General Hospital
Address: 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto
►Education and Schools in Toronto provides a comprehensive overview of schooling options in the city
"The public healthcare is great. It does take some adjusting though, especially switching from private healthcare to public healthcare (but that’s comparing apples to oranges). In South Africa, I feel the middle class relies on private healthcare where the middle class here relies on public. Expect to wait a bit longer when making healthcare appointments but, on the plus side, it’s free."
Read more about South African expat, Figo's experiences in Toronto.
Are you an expat living in Toronto?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Toronto. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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