Military families’ access to health care
In November 2013, our Office published the investigative report On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-Being of Canada's Military Families in the New Millennium. A key issue identified in the report was that military families often experienced difficulties accessing health care when posted to a new province or territory. Following the release of the report and our Office’s recommendations, the DND/CAF has continued to be involved in a number of initiatives to assist military families in accessing and maintaining continuity of medical care.
You will find here information and resources available to military families regarding accessing health care within Canada. Additionally, the document will provide an overview of the new initiatives developed by the DND/CAF. Know that the Family Information Line is available: 1-800-866-4546 (International 00-800-771-17722). 24/7 Any time. Any where. This document also offers resources to health care workers who care for military families.
Health Care Available To Military Families
Provincial and territorial heath care services:
Regular Force and eligibleFootnote 1 Reserve Force members receive health care services through the DND/CAF Spectrum of Care. However, military families are wholly dependent upon the same provincial or territorial health care services as any other Canadian. Health care in Canada is publicly funded and allows Canadian residents to have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services without paying out of pocket. Each province or territory has their own health care insurance plans. For more information, review Canada's Health Act - FAQs and Provincial and Territorial Health Care Web Resources.
When registering for health care in a new province or territory, the 90-day wait period to receive the health card and to access provincially or territorially funded health care coverage has been waived, in principle, for military families in all 10 provinces and the territories. Military families should apply for health insurance coverage in their new province/territory of residences as soon as possible when they relocate, and they should receive health insurance coverage on the day they apply for it.Footnote 2 Military families are encouraged to self-identify when completing the registration form for their new province or territory. Some provinces or territories have even included a dedicated identifier for military families. For example, see the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) registration form.
Note: If military families experience issues waiving the 90 day wait period to access provincial or territorial health care coverage, you can seek assistance with the local health authority. Local Military Family Resource Center (MFRC) staff or Military Family Services (MFS) may also be able to provide assistance in engaging with the various local health authorities in their communities.
Public Service Health Care Plan:
In addition to provincial/territorial health care insurance plans access, families of Regular Force members and eligibleFootnote 3 Reserve Force members can access private health insurance by registering for the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP). For more information regarding PSHCP eligibility, members should contact their Orderly Room Staff and review the National Joint Council Directive on PSHCP eligibility. PSHCP can also be contacted directly at 1-888-757-7427 (toll free) or the CAF’s positional mailbox HealthandDental-SanteetDentaire@forces.gc.ca. Or learn more online.
Finding A Family Physician
Family physicians are an important resource and service to have when moving to a new province or territory. However, accessing a family physician and ensuring continuity of care can be difficult. Canadian Forces Morale and Wellness Services (CFMWS) provides health care information by province and territory, including resources for finding family physicians.
You can also utilize the following programs to help find a family physician in your area:
Military Family Doctor Network:
Calian Health, in partnership with Military Family Services (MFS), have launched the Military Family Doctor Network. The program is aimed at improving access to family physicians for military families.
The Military Family Health Portal is an additional health navigation tool available to assist military families in locating family physicians. For more information on the Military Family Doctor Network and Military Family Health Portal, contact 1-877-633-7722 x550 or email@example.com.
Operation Family Doc, National Capital Region (NCR):
Operation Family Doc is a program offered by the Military Family Resource Center – National Capital Region (NCR), that provides resources and when possible connects families of active military members with a family doctor or nurse practitioner. For more information on Operation Family Doc, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-993-8671.
Note: This program is available to transitioning CAF members in the process of releasing or retiring (and their family) in the NCR. It is also accessible to former members (and their family) for up to three years post release.
Connecting with a Virtual Doctor
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CFMWS has partnered with Maple to provide military families with access to a network of virtual doctors. This service is free to military family dependents who hold a valid CFOne card. Family members can connect with a Canadian-licenced general practitioner to who can offer medical advice, provide some prescription refills, and provide lab and imaging requests.
- Contact your provincial or territorial College of Physicians and Surgeons;
- Contact your local hospitals to see if they have a family practice unit;
- Search your provincial or territorial Ministry of Health website for directories
- Contact physician offices in your area;
- Visit a walk-in clinic; and
- Ask a friend or family member if their doctor is accepting new patients
Resources for Health Care Workers About Caring for Military Families
Military Family Services has also collaborated with the College of Family Physicians to publish Caring for Military Families in the Patient's Medical Home and Family Physicians Working with Military Families. Additionally, the Canadian Paediatric Society has produced a position statement, Caring for children and youth from Canadian military families: Special considerations.
Other Useful Resources
Visit the CFMWS website to access a wide range of health care related resources for military families. You can find resources for caregivers, parenting support for children experiencing behaviour issues or anxiety, resources and services for supporting families with children with special needs, crisis texting services for kids, and many other useful links.
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