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how to find a family doctor

February 27, 2024 • read

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How to Find a Family Doctor in Toronto

How to get a family doctor in Toronto: A quick step-by-step guide

  1. Register online with Health Care Connect.
  2. Search the CPSO registry of Ontario physicians to find a list of family doctors in your area and call to see if any are accepting new patients.
  3. Tap into your social networks to see if anyone can recommend a GP with room in their practice.
  4. Ask for GP recommendations on social media community groups.
  5. Contact your local hospital to see if they’re affiliated with a family health team or if they know of any doctors accepting new patients.
  6. Connect with hospital-affiliated family health teams in the spring to see if any of their family medicine residents are entering practice nearby and taking new patients.
  7. Assess if you fall within the target area or demographic of your local CHC.
  8. Connect with Maple healthcare providers in minutes, for on-demand 24/7 virtual care.

How do I find a family doctor accepting new patients in Ontario?

Your family doctor is your entry point into the healthcare system. From primary care and specialist referrals to prescribing medications and ordering lab tests, GPs do it all. Unfortunately, over 2.3 million Ontarians don’t have one. And, with many physicians set to retire soon, that number will likely grow. By 2026, one in four Ontarians may be looking for a family doctor.

Securing a GP may be especially difficult for provincial newcomers as the official instructions for getting one don’t always yield results. Luckily, there are other options. Here’s how to find a family doctor in Toronto and how to access care if you don’t have one yet.

How to find a family doctor in Toronto

We recommend registering with Health Care Connect first. This is a provincial program that connects Ontarians with physicians nearby who are accepting new patients. However, while this is the official route to getting a family doctor, it probably won’t be the fastest. Some Ontarians spend years on this list before being matched with a new GP.

Most health-related concerns can’t wait that long. If you have a medical issue while you’re waiting for a family doctor, our providers can help. Did you know that Maple connects you with licensed Canadian doctors in minutes from your phone, laptop, or computer? During your consultation, the doctor can answer medical questions, order lab tests, or write you a prescription, if appropriate. You can also book a specialist appointment, no referral is necessary.

Telemedicine can bridge the gaps, but you should still continue looking for a family doctor. To this end, use the search function on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)’s registry of Ontario physicians.

The registry doesn’t specify which GPs are currently accepting new patients. However, it does allow you to filter by location as well as other requirements like gender and languages spoken.

For individuals seeking a family doctor explicitly committed to providing competent and accepting care to 2SLGBTQ folk, Rainbow Health Ontario’s service provider directory may be useful.

Tapping into your existing networks of friends, family, coworkers, and social media community groups may also help to generate leads.

Once you have a list of appropriate practices, warm up your dialing fingers. You’ll need to start calling them to see if any are taking on new patients. Finding the Goldilocks zone of a GP that’s both accepting new patients and close to you can take a while. So try not to get discouraged if you don’t have immediate success. Often, finding a family doctor in Ontario comes down to how much time you invest in the process.

How can I see a family doctor if I don’t have one yet?

If you don’t have a GP or can’t see yours quickly enough, you may want to visit your local walk-in clinic. Keep in mind, however, that these can get extremely busy. Some walk-in clinic waitlists fill up within minutes of opening. Getting your name on the list may mean lining up well before business hours begin.

Finally, while it’s the care alternative you’re likely most familiar with, your local emergency room should be reserved for critical medical concerns only. ERs prioritize patients based on need. If you’re using it for non-urgent issues like prescription refills or referrals, you’re likely in for a lengthy wait.

Where can I get care for non-urgent issues?

For non-urgent medical issues, prescriptions, and lab test requisitions, Maple helps you connect with doctors online for diagnosis and treatment within minutes. Our on-demand platform lets you access care 24/7 from wherever you are, whether you’re at home in bed or working from the office.

And, if you get a prescription, our doctors can mail it to you or fax it to the pharmacy of your choice for pick up or delivery, straight to your doorstep.

Look to existing health resources

Nearby health centres may also be helpful resources for finding a family doctor. For example, your local hospital may know if any of their physicians are currently accepting new patients. 

What’s more, hospitals are often associated with family health teams. These practices provide comprehensive primary care by bringing together different healthcare providers including physicians. You may be able to find a practicing GP through one of these teams. Even if they don’t currently have space, call back in the spring when family medicine residents graduate to see if any are starting their own practices.

If these options don’t yield a solid solution, consider turning to a community health centre (CHC) for care. Like family health teams, CHCs typically employ multidisciplinary teams. The catch is that they’re specific about the populations they serve. This may mean that their primary aim is to provide care for newcomers, for example.

Finding a GP that’s taking new patients can feel like an impossible task. But, with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of how-to, you can find a family doctor in Toronto. The key is to be patient and stick to your search.

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