An estimated 500,000 people do not have access to health insurance. For many, the lack of insurance is tied to immigration status. In Ontario, new immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers are especially at risk of experiencing barriers to health care due to lack of insurance coverage, restrictive policies, language and cultural differences and low income.
Newly arrived permanent residents to Ontario must wait three months before they can access OHIP. At the federal level, the reinstated Interim Federal Health program provides limited temporary health coverage for refugees. The province does make some exceptions. For example, Ontario’s CHCs are mandated to provide services for uninsured clients. Some Community Health Centres and Community Family Health Teams provide primary health care services to small numbers of migrant agricultural workers in their area, and others would like to do more.
We believe we have a universal healthcare system, but there are thousands of people in Ontario who are denied healthcare coverage, many in large part due to their immigration status. This includes new immigrants in the three month waiting period, temporary foreign workers between contracts, and returning Canadian citizens who have left the country for a period of time.