By Uchendu Precious Onuoha
According to President Putin of Russia, there is freedom of speech in Russia, but your freedom is not guaranteed after the speech. Should we think the same for Canada? There is free health care in Canada, but the price is huge. In life, nothing is free. Most things that are termed to be free in any system may seem to be free in theory but in reality, there are always hidden price and huge costs attached. While I commend the government of Canada for operating a free health care scheme which is better than nothing but the journey to have it is very rigorous, so long and costly not just in terms of money but in time spent to obtain the required attention or have a family doctor.
I came to Canada about 3 years ago after living in Europe, Germany and Spain respectively where I experienced free health care for the first time. I moved to USA and had a stint of their expensive cash and carry health care as the government does not offer free health, but individuals must have their health care insurance. Taking into account the important need for health for me and family, I considered Canada a better choice over USA having been used to the European free healthcare which was quite good.
As a new immigrant in Montreal, getting a health care clinic or a family doctor was one of my primary concerns. I was directed to register with a clinic near to where I live and apply for a family physician which I did. But my experience on occasions I had some health challenges and were referred to the hospital left me thinking of an alternative. It takes so many hours of waiting before a doctor would attend to you. Waiting to see a doctor was like waiting for eternity. The long waiting time was not just applicable to only me but my family and others too. On such occasions one would think is this a way of telling you that the free public healthcare is not the best for you or a way of telling you don't get sick again. When you miss your flight, next flight you are early. When you remember the pains you suffer before you are treated, next time you will not be sick.
In most cases, the waiting list and waiting period of appointment for most ill-heaths takes months even years. I observed that not until one’s health situation gets worse to a very precarious state of urgency, you may not receive adequate attention. Also, as a protected person and refugee you stand to benefit more with free treatments and free medications which is very good and helpful. The higher you go the higher the price. Once your status changes and you are admitted in the system, you discover that the free healthcare is not free.
The journey to have a family doctor in Canada under the public healthcare system is so long a journey. From Montreal, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario it’s still the same story. I have been searching for one and my search seems to be elusive as none is forthcoming.
It is said that, half bread is better than none but now I don't have access to a community healthcare clinic which is our half bread in the absence of not having a family doctor. Recently, we relocated to a new place here in Ottawa and contacted the community healthcare clinic in the area for appointment but unfortunately, we were told there is no available chance to absorb us and was told to get back to whoever referred us. Though we have the Ontario health card, right now we don't have a community healthcare clinic and a family doctor. While I appreciate and commend Canada for the free healthcare system, I reiterate that the price for it is still huge.