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Helping new immigrants access Canadian healthcare

Recent immigrants are less likely to report having a chronic condition, compared with the Canadian-born population in large part due to unfamiliarity with the health care system and the options available to them.

New and non-English-speaking immigrants are also less likely to receive screening for cervical and breast cancer than other English-speaking Canadian women.

The Ontario government through enhanced health care options has provided solutions for these communities that include breast screening centres, family health teams and urgent care centres. For these communities, this means improved access to primary care providers and alternatives to emergency room care.

Health Care options in Ontario:
• 300 family health teams comprised of healthcare practitioners ranging from nurse practitioners to dietitians to family doctors that provide collaborative and integrated care through one point of access.
• With the expanded breast screening centres, there are 155 clinics that provide women 50 plus with mammograms without a referral from a doctor to help early detection of breast cancer.
• 25 nurse practitioner-led clinics will be open across the province by the spring of 2012.
• 15 urgent care centres in major cities help alleviate ER congestion and deliver fast and effective care.
• 101 community health centres that provide immigrants and ethnic communities with health services in different languages to better help them access primary care and navigate the health care system.

While family physicians and ER doctors continue to play an invaluable role in the health-care system, other practitioners such as nurses have taken on larger roles in delivering primary care. It’s important for these communities to understand their health care options and make the right choice based on their individual needs.

To help new Canadians and ethnic communities, the Ontario government has been leading the way through improved access to care and offers multilingual fact sheets in 26 different languages on understanding and navigating health care in Ontario. For more info, visit www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/ hco/factsheets.aspx.

Did you know? There’s a disproportionate rate of diabetes, heart disease and stroke among visible minorities in Canada. 11 per cent of South Asian Canadians have diabetes compared to 6 per cent of Canadians of white European origin and are likely to develop heart disease 5 to 10 years earlier than other ethnic groups. – Toronto Community Foundation

Posted: Aug 31, 2011

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