Health Coverage: All Syrians will have IFHP (Federal government health insurance) upon arrival; this will last 1 year. A summary of coverage:

  • IFHP covers medical visits and other costs – for providers who are registered:
    Some doctors, dentists, optometrists
    Nearly all pharmacies, labs, hospitals
  • All are immediately OHIP-eligible. Must apply at Service Ontario and are exempt from the 3-month waiting period
  • Once they have OHIP, the federal coverage will continue for drugs, dental, etc.
  • One reason to get OHIP: some doctors don’t accept payment from the federal government
  • Medications: covered for 1 year
  • Dental: Basic dental is covered for 1 year (i.e. emergencies)
  • Optometry: coverage for basic eye care and glasses for 1 year
  • Medical visits, tests, x-rays, hospital costs are covered

Primary Care – Family Doctors

To get a family doctor/primary health care provider:


  • Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (St. Catharines)
    (905) 685-6589 x225
  • Niagara Folk Arts Settlement Services Centre (Niagara Falls)
    905-685-6589 x229
  • Fort Erie Multicultural Centre
  • Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre

Call or email:

  • Niagara Refugee Healthline: 905-688-2558 x301
  • Ontario Government Refugee Healthline: 1-866-286-4770

French-speaking refugees: Centre de Santé (Welland)

  • Toll Free: 1-866-885-5947
  • Tel: 905-734-1141

Call any Community Health Centre, Clinic or Family Doctor’s Office and ask. Many are happy to accept refugees/accepting new patients.

Mental Health

  • Some refugees will have urgent needs due to pre-existing conditions
  • PTSD and emerging issues: these may need care in the months after they’re settled
  • Contact Niagara for all children’s mental health up to age 18. Within 5 days families receive a response. First appointment within 3 weeks
    Phone: 905-684-3407
    Toll Free: 1-800-933-3617
  • For adults: Mental Health and Addictions Access Line
    24-h access line for urgent and non-urgent mental health referrals
    Patients, their family/friends, or health professionals can refer using this line


  • Streamlined access for pregnant women, and for women with gynecological problems via their family doctor or primary health care provider
  • For other specialties, referrals will be made as usual


  • Government coverage is for emergencies only – toothaches, fillings
  • Dr. Mohamad Salame will connect people with a dentist: 905-646-0104

  • For non-urgent dental care:
  • Niagara College clinic: dental hygiene by students at low cost 905-735-2211 x7758
    Some medical clinics offer free access to dental care for their clients (Quest CHC) 905-688-2558
    Public Health offers free dental clinics for children under age 17. To make an appointment call 905-688-8248 ext. 7962

  • Click here to apply for the Healthy Smiles Program


Coverage for eye examinations and glasses is included in the government plan.

The following optometrists have stepped forward to offer their services to Syrian refugees:

Dr. Francis Dube
1264 Garrison Rd, Unit 4
Fort Erie, ON L2A 1P1
Phone: 905-991-1515
Dr. Art Marchand
191 Welland Ave,
St-Catharines, ON L2R 2P2
Phone: 905-641-4464
Dr. Kevin Ahokas
535 Upper Wellington St.
Hamilton, ON L9A 3P7
Phone: 905-389-4201


Niagara Region Public Health offers a full array of prenatal classes, parenting programs and breastfeeding clinics; including in home visiting and a phone in line which is always open for any questions about parenting and children. Please call the Parent Talk Information Line at 905 688-8248 ext. 7555.

For more information on all Public Health resources and services please visit

Kathy Bell R.N., BScN, MHA
Manager, Sexual Health
Niagara Region Public Health
2201 St.David’s Rd., Thorold, ON
L2V 0A2

905 688-8248 ext. 7249



A Handbook for healthcare workers has been created by students and residents led by Dr. Sarah Chaudry, with input/advice from McMaster faculty.

The Niagara Syrian Refugee Assistance Health Committee

Derek McNally
Heather Scott
Ellis Katsof
Bill Helmeczi
George Kurzawa
Kathy Bell
Karl Stobbe
Brian Kerley
Ramya Kancherla
Sarah Chaudhry
Henri Louis St- Martin
Coletta McGrath
Taralea McLean
Marcel Castonguay
Rachelle Hall
Miriam Cooper
Niagara Health System (NHS)
NHS Mental Health
Pathstone Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health
McMaster DeGroote School of Medicine
Garden City FHT
McMaster medical student
McMaster Family Medicine Resident
Niagara Falls CHC
Quest CHC
Bridges CHC
Centre de Santé Communautaire
Hamilton Niagara Haltom Burlington LHIN
District School Board of Niagara