Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada (free illustrated PDF guide)

Chapter 26: Dealing with health issues

Published: 02-03-2020

Author

Julie

Dealing with health issues

It’s not because it’s freezing outside that you will catch a cold—germs make you sick, not cold weather itself!

However, at one point or another during your trip, you may need to see a doctor. Figure out how the healthcare system works before Googling “doctor+Canada” with a 40⁰C fever or a broken finger.

First, a final reminder that health insurance isn’t optional. As highlighted in “How can I find the best health insurance policy?”, healthcare is expensive in Canada and even the most common health issue can lead to a hefty medical bill.

There’s a doctor shortage in Canada. The more remote the town the worse the problem is, but even in large cities many Canadians don’t have a general practitioner (“GP” or “family doctor”).

Don’t worry, you won’t have to ask your dormmate to perform minor surgery on you—just go to a walk-in clinic where you can see a nurse or doctor, often without an appointment and get advice, assessment and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries such as cuts, bruises, minor infections, sprains and skin complaints.

The fee is usually between $40 and $100. Wait times are inversely proportional to face-to-face time with a health professional—you can spend a few hours in the waiting room and two to five minutes with the doctor. Some even have a “one question per visit” rule! It can be disconcerting when you’re used to spending at least 15 minutes with a doctor who knows you well, but it’s the most efficient way to get a diagnosis, a prescription and maybe a referral.

If you settle down in a city, make a list of walk-in clinics in the neighbourhood. Download the Doctr app for real-time ER and walk-in clinic wait times in Canada.

For medical emergency, dial 911. For non-urgent medical or health issue, you can call Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) to speak to a registered nurse 24/7. This is a free provincial service. A similar service exists in many provinces, e.g.HealthLine in  Saskatchewan, HealthLinkBC’s registered nurses in BC, etc.

Booking an appointment with dentists, eye doctors and other professionals is much easier than trying to see a family doctor.

Chapter 26 of 34

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