Tips and Tricks

The reality is that many Ontarians find it very difficult to obtain a family doctor. Not only are doctors in short supply but many focus only on certain areas of practise, ie; sports medicine, palliative care, obstetrics and others.

It is not ideal to obtain your primary care from walk-in clinics or emergency departments. Working with a family doctor who knows your health history and understands your personal preferences when it comes to your health care is always the better way to go. We hope the below list of tips will help you to find a family doctor!

The Health Locator Team

20 Tips on Finding a Family Doctor

  1. Use our HealthCare Directory.  Family Doctors on our directory have the ability to let Ontarian’s know when they are accepting new patients. Check regularly!
  2. Register with HealthCare Connect. This program refers you to a local doctor or nurse practitioner who is accepting new patients. You and your family members can register as a group and the program will try to find a family doctor for your entire family. You need to have OHIP to use this service. It is run by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. To register, call 1-800-445-1822 or visit their website: or, Also, use their “HealthCare Options Directory” on the Health Care Connect site.
  3. Ask a friend, family member or neighbour who they would recommend.
  4. Ask for doctor recommendations on social networks ie; Facebook, Twitter.
  5. Check local newspaper ads for new doctors in your area.
  6. You can call doctors’ offices directly and ask if they are taking new patients.
  7. Look in the Yellow Pages of your telephone book. Search for Physicians & Surgeons near you.
  8. Ask the local hospital(s) if they have a family practice unit. Hospitals also often know which physicians or on-staff doctors are accepting new patients and may be able to provide a few contacts.
  9. If you are already seeing a specialist, often he or she can help you get connected with a family doctor.
  10. Use the “Find a Doctor Service”. It is an online database of all the province’s doctors and it is searchable by specialty, doctor’s name, city or postal code. It is run by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. You can also call 1-800-268-7096 ext. 603. If you are in Toronto, call 416-967-2603. or
  11. You may also ask a worker at your local settlement agency, (also called immigrant- or refugee-serving agencies, or newcomer services). They might have a list of doctors who are accepting new patients or who speak your language. To find a settlement agency, go to:
  12. The Ontario Doctor Directory is a comprehensive online provincial doctor directory. It is not associated with the College of Physicians of Ontario or any other Government organization.
  13. Ask at your Community Health Centre (CHC) :
  14. You may contact family-medicine practices that operate out of teaching hospitals, (called teaching units) because they often take new patients. Under this arrangement, you will always be seen by a resident, who is a medical doctor training to become a family physician. The relationship will typically last two years until the next resident takes over, but they are supervised by an experienced physician. If you find a family medicine resident you like, there’s a good chance that you may be able to follow him/her when they start their own practise. For more information, call your local hospital.
  15. During the month of July a new number of family physicians graduate. You can often locate these doctors through a university’s department of family medicine, the College of Physicians and Surgeons in your province and in some cases, the Health Ministry. Start by going to websites that list graduating and experienced doctors taking new patients.
  16. Use the same walk in clinic each time you go. If you don’t have a family physician, it is important to go to the same walk in clinic each time you need medical care. This way the clinic will keep a medical file about you which will record your appointments, prescriptions, special needs and any other health concerns. This might also increase your chances of finding a family physician as the physician in the clinic gets to know you and your family they might be able to let you know when another physician in town is accepting patients.
  17. Check provincial databases. Each province has a provincial database with a listing of physicians accepting new patients.
  18. Contact the Ministry of Long Term Health and Care;
  19. Access the Alliance Multicultural Community Health Centre: or 416-324-8677
  20. Telehealth Ontario – A free 24 hour line that provides you access to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. or Phone: 1-866-797-0000

Note: HCAI

If you have been involved in a MVA and you already have a family doctor, you may ask your family doctor if he/she has registered himself/herself on HCAIIf he/she is not registered on HCAI, please forward them this web address:

What is HCAI?  See our Terms and Definitions page for more details! Click here