How to Find a Family Doctor as a Newcomer in Canada

So, you’re new to Canada! It’s an exciting (and busy) time! There are a ton of things you have to figure out and put into place to start settling into your new home. You need to find suitable accommodations for you and your family (if they’re accompanying you). You have to find a job so you can start earning and set yourself up for career success in Canada.

You also need to start looking for a family doctor as soon as possible. There is a shortage of family doctors in some provinces and it can therefore be hard to find one. For persons living in rural areas, finding a family doctor might be even more challenging.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you will still have access to quality healthcare without a family doctor, but having a family doctor has many benefits, which we’ll discuss later. Canada has a universal healthcare system that is well known for its quality.

The process of securing a family doctor can be a bit complex, especially for newcomers. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about finding a family doctor in Canada.

The Challenge of Finding a Family Doctor in Canada

Before we get into the tips for finding a family doctor, it’s important to understand the unique challenges that newcomers to Canada may face. You’re in a new environment and it might take some time to figure out how things work.

One study suggests that around 4.8 million Canadians do not have a family doctor. Depending on your location and the province you reside in, you might encounter different hurdles. It’s essential to approach this process with patience. It’s also very important to be proactive; this will help you find a family doctor faster.


The Importance of a Family Doctor

First, let’s talk about why having a family doctor is so important.  A family doctor, also known as a general practitioner (GP), is your primary point of contact for healthcare. They provide preventative care, diagnose and treat illnesses, and can refer you to specialists if needed. Having a family doctor ensures you receive comprehensive and continuous healthcare tailored to your needs. Studies show that people who have a family doctor have better health outcomes.


Understanding Canada’s Healthcare System

Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded and provides essential medical services to all citizens and permanent residents. However, it’s important to note that healthcare in Canada is administered at the provincial and territorial level. This means that the specific process for finding a family doctor can vary from one province or territory to another.


Tips for Finding a Family Doctor

Let’s explore some tried-and-true methods to search for a family doctor as a newcomer in Canada:

1. Seek Recommendations

Start your search by asking colleagues, relatives, and friends if they know any family doctors who are currently accepting new patients. Personal recommendations can often lead to the best results.


2. Contact Local Healthcare Providers

Reach out to community health centers or hospitals in your area. They might have information about family doctors who are open to taking on new patients.


3. Connect with Settlement Service Providers

Settlement service providers are organizations that specialize in helping newcomers adapt to life in Canada. They can provide valuable insights into the local healthcare system and may even have a list of doctors who are accepting new patients.


4. Explore Provincial Resources

Each province and territory in Canada operates its own healthcare system, including the process of finding family doctors. Check your province’s dedicated website or resource for this purpose. These resources can guide you on the specific process in your area.


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia


Ontario – For those residing in Ontario, Health Care Connect is a valuable resource. It allows you to register and be placed on a waiting list to find a family doctor. The system matches patients with physicians who are accepting new patients. Additionally, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website provides a doctor search tool to help you locate a physician in your area.

Prince Edward Island




Online Resources and Databases

In addition to the methods mentioned above, several online resources and databases can assist you in your search for a family doctor. Websites like the Canadian Medical Association’s Doctor Search, RateMDs, and even provincial healthcare websites often provide directories of physicians.


Pharmacies and Walk-In Clinics

Sometimes, your local pharmacy or walk-in clinic may have information about family doctors who are currently accepting patients. Pharmacists can also provide valuable guidance on healthcare matters.


Local Community Boards and Social Media

Don’t underestimate the power of your local community. Check community bulletin boards, online forums, and social media groups specific to your area. Sometimes, community members share information about available healthcare providers.


Making Your Transition Easier with Our *FREE*  Relocation Guide

We understand that moving to a new country can be overwhelming, which is why we’re here to support you. To make your transition to Canada as smooth as possible, we’ve created a comprehensive, free relocation guide. This guide is designed to assist newcomers like you in settling into Canada without the hassle.

Our Relocation Guide Covers:

  1. Pre-arrival Preparations: Learn what to do before you even set foot in Canada. This includes gathering essential documents, understanding the immigration process, and preparing for your journey.
  2. Your First Days in Canada: Discover what to expect during your initial days in Canada. From airport arrival to finding temporary accommodation, we’ve got you covered.
  3. Settling Successfully in Canada: Access information on essential services such as setting up a bank account, getting a driver’s license, and more.
  4. Community and Culture: Adapt to Canadian culture and learn how to connect with your local community.

Accessing Key Resources

Within our relocation guide, we’ve included links to key resources that will take the guesswork out of your settlement journey. These resources cover various aspects of life in Canada and are designed to assist newcomers like you in making a smooth transition.

In Conclusion

Finding a family doctor is a crucial step in ensuring your well-being in your new home. By following the strategies outlined above and making use of available resources, you’ll be well on your way to securing the healthcare support you need in Canada.


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