When arriving in Canada, one of the most important things a newcomer needs to do is acquire health insurance. In most provinces you will receive coverage as soon as you apply, but many immigrants do not realize that national health care is not always available on the first day they arrive. Provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, require that immigrants wait at least three months before they are eligible to receive health plan benefits. After arriving in Canada it is important to apply for your health insurance card. If you are immigrating to a province that has a three month waiting period, you should purchase private, short-term health-care insurance.If you reside in a province that does not require a three month waiting period, each member of your family must have their own health card. You can obtain an application form from the provincial health ministry office, hospital, doctor’s office, or a pharmacy. To apply for a health card, you will need your passport, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) or birth certificate. Health care services will only be offered to people who have their own names on the health card that they provide. Immigrant organizations are available to help with filling with out application formsIf you are living in a province that requires a three month waiting period, you can purchase a private, short-term health-care insurance plan. Private health plans provide comprehensive coverage for a variety of health conditions and medical emergencies. There are plans that can be purchased before you arrive in Canada. If you purchase insurance from your originating country, read the policy carefully to make sure you are still covered once you arrive in Canada.Canada’s national health care system does not cover dental care but there are private plans that will cover dental procedures. It is important to make sure your family members are also covered. Some insurance companies have stipulations for buying private health insurance that may include a standard deadline to apply for insurance after arriving in Canada. The cost of health care coverage depends on the insurance provider you choose, health history, the type of insurance package, and your age and your dependent’s ages. Some insurers may have specific conditions attached to particular insurance plans.Most private health insurance plans include extended health care benefits such as prescription drugs, medical supplies, hearing aids, vision care, hospital rooms, and complementary health services such as chiropractic and registered massage therapy. They can also cover dental plans, disability income, critical illness coverage, travel insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits.For more information about obtaining private health insurance and different health plans private health insurers provide, you can contact the Consumer Assistance Centre of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService (CLHIO). In Ontario, Settlement.org provides the Guide to Supplementary Health Insurance booklet that helps newcomers understand health insurance. The booklet is also helpful when newcomers are deciding which health plan will meet their needs. Settlement.org also provides a list of companies that provide private health insurance. Insurance brokers are an alternative to insurance companies. Because brokers represent several different health insurance companies and have access to different plans, they are often able to provide more choices and a better price.Acquiring a health care plan is an essential part of settling in Canada. In case of an emergency, it is important to have the right health insurance plan that meets you and your family’s needs. With all of the new experiences waiting for you, having proper health care is one less issue that you and your family will have to worry about.
It has been noted that affluent nations are over-fed, as food is affordable and plentiful to the point of intoxication, yet as far as healthy eating is concerned, the general population are somewhat undernourished, as food often lacks essential nutrients, namely antioxidant nutrients. However, this could be overcome through the use of food supplements which encompass vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes, herb, fibre, bee products, pro-biotic and phytoeostrogens. Nutritional supplements come in various forms and formulations including tablets, capsules, powder, liquids and herb extracts.Many of us think that we eat a healthy diet that provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, but modern methods of animal farming, food production and cooking methods may significantly influence the nutritive value of food we finally have in the plate. In addition, canning, freezing, chopping, peeling, boiling and the use of food preservatives are known to deplete some essential nutrients. In turns, air pollution from car exhaust and chemical plants as well toxicants in food may put extra demand on nutrient needs especially for micronutrients.There is a question of efficacy, safety and risk of toxicity surrounding the area of dietary supplements. All these factors are related, at least in part, to the supplement source, purity, dosage and the possible interaction between different supplements / ingredients, and / or elements in the diet and most importantly prescribed medication. This is compounded by the availability of enormous range of supplements from various sources.To avoid such drawbacks one should ask the following questions: What supplements to take? Why and what for? Which brand name? How long to take them for? How best to take them? How much and how long a supplement should be taken for? Is there any interaction with any medications currently been taken? And what are the contraindications if any?Self-prescription of nutritional supplements is a common phenomenal of our modern age. Friends or relative recommendations is good enough evidence for the majority of the population for taking a supplement without any attention being given to individual differences, nutritional status, physiological needs or medical history. This is a dangerous practice, despite the fact that most of the dietary supplements available in the market today are controlled by stringent procedures. It is the consumer non-intentional duplication or over dosing, which is a cause of concern, especially if a supplement is taken on large dosages and/or for a prolonged period of time without any input or direction of a healthcare professional.People should be aware of the fact that the need for supplements is usually governed by a multitude of factors; among them are: poor dietary habits, frequent dieting, modern methods of farming & production, reliance on convenience food, level of stress, the degree of environmental pollutants, over-dependence on certain medications e.g. antibiotics and steroids, dietary restrictions brought about by moral and religious beliefs, cultural / ideological factors and the presence of chronic or debilitating diseases. In addition, habitual diet, exercise routine, alcohol over consumption, smoking, social and work environment all have direct or indirect influence on vitamin and mineral requirements. As already stated, preparation and cooking methods, storage, refining / processing, additives, toxicants, pesticides and other chemical are all factors affecting the nutrient values of foods.It is now well known that the main causes of nutritional deficiencies are poor dietary habits, inadequate dietary intakes, mal-absorption, increase losses and/or increase requirement for nutrients. To some extend we no longer suffer from classical symptoms of vitamin deficiencies such as scurvy due to vitamin C deficiency, beriberi brought about by a lack of vitamin B1, pellagra which is caused by lack of vitamin B2, rickets caused by deficiency of vitamin D and Keratomalacia caused by vitamin A deficiency. However, there is a wide spread of mild nutritional deficiencies at blood or tissue level often referred to as sub-clinical nutritional deficiencies. In my opinion these are the major contributory factors to many of the chronic illnesses of today including coronary heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and arthritis.The main symptoms of sub-clinical deficiencies may include headache, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, digestive problems and susceptibility to infections. But, some of these are often confused with symptoms of food allergies and intolerances which appears to be quite fashionable nowadays especially among those who consider themselves to be health conscious. The groups most vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies are pregnant and lactating women, children, adolescents, elderly and dieters due to increased physiological demands as well as those with long term chronic or debilitating illnesses.At present the need for supplements can easily be assessed by a number of techniques including computerised ‘Nutritional analyses. This is based on diet history and a food record diary over several days, typically one week. Blood testing is another technique for assessing the need for individual supplements in a more accurate fashion. Above all what is more important is a prior evaluation by a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge and expertise in the area of nutritional supplements.