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Public health services for refugees and newcomers

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) promotes and protects health, and prevents disease and injury to ensure the health of our residents and communities. The health unit provides a variety of public health programs and services that range from healthy living to child development, vaccinations to safe food, infectious diseases to injury prevention, sexual health to dental care, and much more. 

You do not require a health card or need to have a doctor to use these services.

Health Connection

Health Connection is the health unit’s free, confidential health information and advice service, available Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All health unit programs and services can be accessed by calling Health Connection at the contact information below:

  • Phone: 705-721-7520 press 2# or 1-877-721-7520 press 2#
  • Email:
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter:

If English is not your first language, simply tell one of the public health professionals that you would like to speak in your own language and immediately you will be connected with a professional interpreter over the phone, at no cost to you.

Using an interpreter will not affect your right to privacy or confidentiality, but will allow you to confidently make decisions about your own health based on the best possible information.

The following is an overview of programs and services offered by the health unit:

Communicable Disease Control
To prevent and control the spread of communicable disease in Simcoe Muskoka, the health unit provides education and counselling, clinical services, inspection services and responds to reports of communicable diseases and outbreaks in our community and local institutions.

See here for more.

Dental Services

Dental Services

The health unit offers dental health services to eligible children and adults. They include:

Children and Teens

  • Dental Screening (birth – 17 years old)
    • Children are screened at elementary schools during annual dental screening to determine if a child has dental needs. Families will be notified if their child has any dental needs and if they might be eligible for dental services. Children and teens can also have dental screenings at health unit offices by appointment.
    • Healthy Smiles Ontario Program (HSO)

Effective January 1, 2016, children in refugee families who are eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) are eligible for the Healthy Smiles Ontario dental program. Benefits are coordinated with the federal government.  The Healthy Smiles program covers preventive, routine and emergency dental care.

  • Healthy Smiles Ontario – eligibility is based on income. Families interested in applying can do so by contacting the health unit to arrange a time for help in completing the enrolment form or by visiting the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Healthy Smiles Ontario site at
  •  Emergency and Essential Services – children and teens with emergency or essential dental conditions may be eligible for dental care. They must be screened by a SMDHU dental hygienist, meet dental eligibility criteria, attest to financial hardship, or go to a local dental office that accepts HSO clients, after health unit hours, for emergency care. 
  • Preventive Services – children who meet criteria for preventive services at the time of dental screening can have their families apply to enroll them for preventive services care (topical fluoride, sealants and scaling of teeth). Families must attest to financial hardship.  These services are provided by the health unit dental hygienists.

Dental Clinics for Adults and Children

Refugees (adults and children) with IFHP coverage for dental care can access treatment at the Healthy Smiles Ontario dental clinic in Barrie or through the Healthy Smiles Ontario dental bus. Care can also be accessed at dental providers in the community registered with the federal government to provide services to refugees with IFHP coverage. Proof of coverage is required.  Under IFHP adults have limited dental coverage. Children may be able to access treatment through IFHP and through HSO, if eligible.

See here for more on dental services.

Environmental Health Complaints or Consultations
Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) inspect a wide range of food premises to protect the health of Simcoe Muskoka residents, and follow up on suspected food-borne illnesses, cluster enteric symptoms and associated food complaints. PHIs also investigate animal bites, and recommend and respond to rabies vaccine release inquiries.


Family Health Services and Supports

The health unit provides advice and assistance for parents and parents-to-be through prenatal classes and other services and supports about breastfeeding, infant feeding, child nutrition, parenting and much more.

Local Breastfeeding Peer Support Programs

This weekly drop-in group for parents offers support as well as an opportunity to ask questions from a public health nurse about breastfeeding, infant and child health, developmental stages and parenting.

Ontario Early Years Centre Locations

Wednesdays 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Barrie Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC), 129 Ferris Lane, Barrie ON.


Wednesdays 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at Alliston Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC), 13 Wellington Street West.


Wednesdays 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Collingwood Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC), 250A Peel Street.


Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program

Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC) is a voluntary program for women and their families in the prenatal period and families with children from birth until their transition to school. 

HBHC offers support in the home (assessment, teaching, referral and service coordination) for children and parents identified with challenges in order to help parents with healthy pregnancies, nutrition and feeding (including breastfeeding), healthy child development,  safety, adjusting to parenthood, accessing community resources and more. 

Healthy Lifestyles

Tobacco Free Living

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease in Canada, and kills 13,000 Ontario residents every year. The health unit offers supports to help those who are trying to quit smoking.

  • Free STOP Smoking Workshops are offered in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) across the region. The three-hour workshop includes a free supply of nicotine replacement therapy such as the patch or gum.  Check our website for upcoming workshops. 
  • Resources and supports that can help those who are ready to quit or want to support someone who is trying to break their tobacco addiction are also available by contacting Health Connection.

The health unit offers immunization clinics in the following health unit offices: Barrie, Midland, Orillia, Cookstown, Collingwood, Huntsville and Gravenhurst. Immunization services provided include routine childhood immunization and adult immunization.

Dates and times of immunization clinics are listed below. Appointments are necessary.


Every Wednesday, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

2nd Monday of the month, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


4th Monday of the month, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


4th Tuesday of the month, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


3rd Wednesday of the month, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.


2nd Tuesday of the month, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Every Tuesday, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


2nd & 4th Monday of the month, 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Please note that clinic dates are subject to change.

Sexual Health Services

The health unit provides education, counselling and referral at our sexual health clinics, as well as current information on a variety of sexual health issues. Nurses offer confidential counselling and information about:
  • Birth control, including the Emergency Contraceptive Pill
  • Pregnancy testing and counselling
  • Sexually transmitted Infections (STIs), including  testing and free treatment
  • HIV testing, including anonymous testing
  • Sexuality and relationship issues 
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If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

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