For many Canadians, health care becomes increasingly important – and potentially complicated – as they age. In Ontario, residents with a valid Ontario health card can receive health care services paid for by OHIP.

There are also other health care programs you should know about. For instance, Health Connect Ontario is a free, confidential phone service. Dial 8-1-1 to get health advice or information, and a registered nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Once you turn 65, most of the cost for approved drug prescriptions will be covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program. If you want to know if your prescription is covered, you can search here. Ontario also offers several free vaccines for those 65 years of age and older. Ask your family doctor for more information.

If you have a physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies under the Assistive Devices Program (ADP). It usually pays up to 75 per cent of the approved price for equipment or supplies ranging from home oxygen to wheelchairs to hearing aids. Sometimes a health charity may offer financial or other support for equipment or expenses for related health conditions.

If getting to and from medical appointments is challenging, there are often different programs that can help provide transportation. Calling 211 is the easiest way to learn more about programs in your area.

Dental Care

The Ontario government offers the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, which provides low-income seniors with dental services like exams, cleanings and restorative services to repair broken teeth and cavities.

Home Care

If you, or someone you care about, needs help living independently or is considering long-term care options, contact Home and Community Care Support Services for help. There is no charge for any professional, personal support or homemaking service provided through Home and Community Care Support Services organizations. If you are not eligible for a service, they can refer you to a fee-for-service community support service. 


In an emergency situation, you do not have to pay land ambulance fees if your trip is deemed medically necessary and you are receiving social assistance, certain home care services or are living in a long-term care home. However, if your ambulance trip is deemed not medically essential or you do not have a valid Ontario health card, you will be billed a co-payment charge.

Northern Health Travel Grants

Northern Health Travel Grants are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC). The grants help pay some of the transportation costs for northern Ontario residents who must travel at least 100 km for medical specialist or hospital care that is not locally available. Many Ontarians now have an option to attend specialist consultations via telemedicine instead of the traditional face-to-face method. However, if a patient travels more than 100 km from their home to attend a telemedicine-enabled organization for a consultation with a ‘virtual specialist,’ they are eligible for a Northern Travel Grant.

Here’s a few other health programs you may not be aware of:

  • Regional Geriatric Programs (RGPs) across Ontario provide specialized geriatric services to help treat illness, disability and mental health in older adults who have multiple and complex needs. In most cases, seniors with mental illness or their families can directly access these programs, or they can be referred through a family doctor.
  • Cancer Care Ontario offers a free colon cancer screening program to reduce deaths from colorectal cancer. To get a free screening kit, talk with your family doctor or nurse practitioner or call Health Connect Ontario.
  • If you have questions about your medications, you can schedule a 20-to30-minute one-on-one discussion with your pharmacist each year to make sure you’re using your medications safely.


Veterans have access to a wide array of health care benefits, including prescription drugs, dental care and prosthetic devices. There is a program for medically related travel costs.

The War Veterans Allowance is a tax-free monthly benefit for low-income veterans and their dependents or their survivors.

Programs and services available vary by community and can change from season to season. Call 211 to get up-to-date information 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Read the other blogs in our seniors’ series: