Health care providers interested in volunteering their time, or offering their clinic, practice or organization to provide transitional health care and services to refugees can call the Refugee HealthLine at 1-866-286-4770 (toll free).
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working with federal, provincial and health system partners to support Syrian refugee resettlement in Ontario. Our strategy includes the following elements: monitoring and assessing health needs, coordinating health system preparedness, service delivery and capacity, and communicating information to the refugees, sponsors, and the health system as information is confirmed.
Ministry Updates and Statements
- Minister Memo: Health System Action Plan: Syrian Refugees – December 17, 2015
- Minister Memo: Update on Syrian Refugee Resettlement – December 1, 2015
- Minister Memo: Syrian Refugee Crisis – November 12, 2015
- Ontario's Health Action Plan placemat summary
- Ontario Health System Action Plan: Syrian Refugees
- Airport Health Services
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Infectious Disease and Health System Surveillance
- Infectious Disease Case and Contact Management
- Interim Lodging Sites
- Local Health System Coordination
- Worker Health and Safety and IPAC Practices in Clinical Care Settings
- Refugee HealthLine: Request for Health Care Providers to Provide Transitional Care for Refugees
- Health Care Services Contact Information for Health Care Providers
- Dental Coverage for Syrian Refugees
Fact Sheet – Health Care Options in Ontario
Syrian Refugee Health Care Options in Ontario:
LHIN Contacts - Syrian Refugee Resettlement
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has asked LHINs to assist with local coordination efforts. This is to support the health system response for the Syrian refugee resettlement effort in Ontario. Health care providers with questions about local planning efforts in their area should contact their local LHIN lead or lead agency representative identified below.
Health care providers interested in volunteering their time to provide transitional health care and services to refugees can call the Refugee HealthLine at 1-866-286-4770 (toll free).
Education and Awareness
To support the resettlement of Syrian refugees within Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is working with partners to develop education and awareness materials and resources for health care providers. Health care organizations are encouraged to check back frequently for updates and new tools.
- Syrian Refugee Early Assessment Considerations for Primary Care Providers: This document is intended to support the primary care provider in their early assessments and care of Syrian refugees of all ages.
- Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health (CCIRH)
- Canadian Medical Association Journal: Refugee Health
- CAMH Refugee Mental Health Project
- The College of Family Physicians of Canada, Refugee Health Care: Resources to Assist Family Physicians
- Ontario College of Family Physicians: Refugee Resettlement
- CAMH: Working with Interpreters in Mental Health Clinical Settings
Questions and Answers
What is the health status of Syrian refugees?
Refugees typically face greater settlement and integration challenges than other newcomers. Many refugees have experienced prolonged periods in refugee camps, trauma, violence, and limited access to health care and education. As part of the immigration process, refugees undergo an immigration medical exam (IME) at their point of departure, are assessed by Quarantine Officers at an airport upon arrival in Canada and will require medical assessment and ongoing care once they have settled into temporary and final accommodations.
Overall Syrian refugees coming from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are experiencing health concerns as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria and difficult living conditions in the refugee camps. We have no indication of any significant risk of infectious diseases; however we will be monitoring their health along the re-settlement journey.
What type of health services support may be required by Syrian refugees?
Health care services that refugees may potentially need access to include:
- primary health care and specialist care (e.g. maternity care, pediatrics, women's health, reproductive health services)
- psychosocial support, counselling and mental health services
- access to pharmaceutical medications
- immunization and communicable disease prevention
- chronic disease management (e.g. cardiac, respiratory, diabetes)
- acute care/hospital services
What else is important to know about refugees and their health needs?
Some have experienced or witnessed extreme events, causing emotional and psychological suffering affecting not only themselves, but their families too. It is very possible that they may not report their personal or family distress, or it may only gradually come to light some time after the settlement process is complete. The immigration medical examination and resettlement forms aim to identify health problems, diseases, physical disabilities, mental illness, trauma, dental and vision needs. Because it is a single health assessment at a specific point in time, medical conditions may arise between the time of the immigration medical examination and arrival of the refugee in Canada. A heightened awareness from their health care provider in Canada, balanced with respect for a refugee's need for personal privacy, may help with identifying any concerns early.