We’ve all heard about doctor shortages. It seems like everybody in Toronto has a story about trying to find a good family doctor or paediatrician. While you probably have lots of friends and family eager to recommend their own, chances those doctors are not accepting new patients. It can be hard to know where to go.
The good news is that if you live in the GTA, there is a doctor for your family. According to Statistics Canada, a 2010 Community Health Survey revealed that 9.2% of Ontario residents don’t have a regular doctor. Rural areas, especially those in Northern Ontario, are particularly underserved. Us city slickers, however, should be all right. The Ontario College of Family Physicians says that the GTA has 135 family doctors per 100,000 patients—which is the best ratio in the province.
Just before my first pregnancy, my family doctor moved out of town. Of course, life doesn’t always wait until you have all your ducks in a row or, in this case, a trusted family practitioner. I was excited and nervous when my home pregnancy test showed up positive and promptly went to a downtown walk-in-clinic to arrange for blood work to confirm the test. When I called to book an appointment with my local midwives, I was told that I’d also need a family doctor. Oh.
I wound up cold calling several family doctors in my area until I found one that would take me. Lucky for you, there’s several resources that can help you find a doctor for your family without spending an afternoon working the phones.
Health Care Connect
This provincial website helps to connect patients to local family doctors who are accepting new patients. The process can take some time, but they do try to prioritize pregnant women and young children.
This is a website set up by the Ontario government to offer information and assistance to new immigrants. They have a section dedicated to healthcare, which includes information on OHIP, finding a family doctor, emergency services, community health, mental health and nutrition.
This site is set up for the sole purpose of making it easy for patients to find specialized health care providers near them. (So you can’t find a family doctor, but you can search for a paediatrician.) I was given the first names and phone numbers of three paediatricians within 10 km of my house in minutes.
Caring For Kids
The Canadian Paediatric Society has a parent resource site that includes information about whether you should see a paediatrician for your child’s primary care and how to go about finding one.
This is another simple online portal that aims to make it easy for people to find healthcare providers in their community. You can search for various specialties including family physicians.
Now finding the right doctor for you or your children may take an extra bit of luck and perseverance. The family doctor I found during my first pregnancy is absolutely wonderful and now sees our whole family. Hopefully we will be set for many years to come.
And to find more health services for kids in Toronto, check out Help! We’ve Got Kids.