In every new city I've moved to I've had to wait to become a patient of my future doctor. Not unexpectedly, the situation here in Toronto (as in the U.S.) is the same. Eric and I have a five to six month wait to become patients at our chosen health clinic. We are both healthy people so this situation is not problematic.
Now, for minor and immediate concerns there are walk-in clinics, urgent care centers and, gods forbid, the hospital emergency room. During our three month waiting period to use OHIP benefits we had the "opportunity" to experience both the clinic and UCC. All puns aside, these visits were relatively painless and pleasant and the medical attention received more than adequate. And the non-provincial health care plan out-of-pocket cost for a Toronto walk-in medical clinic visit was less than half the price of a comparable uninsured visit to a doctors office in The States. Word. ...I'm just sayin'.
So, say you are immigrating to Canada from U.S. And let's say you are moving to a province like Ontario that has a three month waiting period to use the benefits of the provincial health insurance plan. And let's say that you have an immediate need for or just want to proactively avoid any additional waiting time to establish a relationship with your own physician. If you have social connections in the area in which you will be living and those folks are comfortable referring you to their health clinic or family doctor, in order to reduce further wait time I highly recommend that you collect the pertinent information and sign up with the clinic as soon as possible. This could even mean before you leave The States. Your residential area is key because certain health clinics have catchment areas and to be treated or seen you must live within those boundaries.
A good family doctor is an important part of one's support system. For those U.S. to Canada immigrants with health concerns, families or children, the information and suggestions above may help to reduce anxiety and transition time.