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March 2, 2011
Board of Health calls on provincial government to remove OHIP waiting period for landed immigrants
  
The Board of Health has called on the Province of Ontario to change the Health Insurance Act so that landed immigrants can get health coverage as soon as they arrive in Ontario. This would enable timely diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases, which pose a risk to the health of individuals and communities.

Toronto Public Health had made an earlier submission as part of the Province of Ontario's 2011 pre-budget consultations urging the abolition of the current OHIP three-month waiting period for newly arrived landed immigrants. This submission focused strongly on communicable diseases of public health importance such as tuberculosis (TB). Toronto sees approximately 300 cases of TB a year, many of them in individuals who come from countries where the illness is widespread.

"Newcomers to Ontario who have already spent time and money securing landed immigrant status should not have to wait three months for OHIP - especially when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases,” said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for Toronto. “Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. We know that newcomers without coverage are hesitant to see a doctor, which puts their health and the health of others at risk.”

British Columbia and Ontario are the only two provinces that have a comprehensive waiting period for newly arrived landed immigrants. Quebec recently introduced a waiting period, but has a number of exemptions, including the diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases. New Brunswick recently eliminated its waiting period for new immigrants.

“This is the second time we have asked the provincial government to eliminate the wait time for landed immigrants,” said Chair of the Board of Health, Councillor John Filion (Ward 23 Willowdale). “The government recognizes the benefits that newcomers bring to this province, and has said recently that they are fighting to help newcomers integrate into Ontario more quickly. Making them wait for basic health care is unfair, unhealthy, and costly.”

The Board of Health will send its report to the Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care and Finance. The full report is available at http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.HL2.2.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media contact: Ahmad Saidullah, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974, asaidul@toronto.ca


 

 

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