A Healthy Start: Finding Health Care
Resources for Refugees in Ottawa

Children from Syria at a clinic in Ramtha, Jordan 

It can be hard for longtime residents to find a family doctor in Ottawa, someone who is accepting patients, isn't too far from home and is a good fit for your needs. Imagine doing that search when you've just arrived in Canada, don't know the health system and might not know the language — while also trying to find a place to live and enroll your kids in school.

That's what it's like for newly arrived refugees, whether they have come from Syria, Sri Lanka or Eritrea. Private sponsors can help, but where to start?

The Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre is that place. The ONHC has been serving government-assisted refugees for several years at its downtown clinic, and is now offering services to privately sponsored refugees as well. Run by the Somerset West Community Health Centre, it is housed at the Catholic Centre for Immigrants on Argyle Ave., near the Museum of Nature. Recently arrived refugees can receive initial medical assessments and immunizations, along with information about other health care services.

If ONHC reaches capacity, they will refer you to designated primary care hubs for an appointment. Staff can also help refugees find ongoing primary care at community health centres and family health teams across Ottawa.

If you are a refugee or the sponsor of a refugee, connect with OHNC by phone to get the process started. Make sure you have the following information before you call:

  • Name and date of birth of all refugees
  • Permanent address and phone number of refugees (if available)
  • Language(s) of the refugees
  • List of any health concerns
  • Whether or not an ongoing primary health care provider has been arranged

The medical staff at ONHC have a warm and welcoming presence. Their team speaks multiple languages and has welcomed thousands of refugees and connected them to family doctors, multicultural health navigators, mental health services, language interpretation, specialists and more. They have been leaders at the Refugee 613 Health task force, helping to build a network of primary care hubs to make it easier for the latest arrivals to quickly and easily connect to the medical services they need. 

You'll find them at the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre, 219 Argyle Ave., Level B. Its hours of operation are Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Telephone 613-691-0192.

If you are a physician who would like to know more about serving the refugee population in your own practice, the Refugee 613 Health task force can help. Please send an email to health@refugee613.ca and we can connect you to professional development workshops, the new e-consult service on refugee health — developed with the Champlain LHIN — and more.