Info about living with an ostomy in Canada

Questions:

I’m a 30-year colostomate and in about a week’s time I will presenting a 30-40 minute program about living with an ostomy in other countries for our Northern Virginia Ostomy Support Group. Can  you help me by answering any of the following questions?
1) Where do ostomates in Canada obtain supplies?
2) Who pays for pouches and other supplies?
3) Who is best to ask for advice about ostomy management — nurse, doctor, surgeon, friend
4) Do ET nurses have ostomy clinics?
5) Do primary care physicians have good knowledge about ostomies?
6) If someone traveling in Canada has a problem (blockage, need for supplies), what would be the most efficient way to find help?

Answers:

Ostomy supplies in Canada are available from the many medical supply companies throughout each Province of the country. They are plentiful throughout. If in a remote area for example, the supplies can be ordered, and then they will be delivered. An individual can also purchase online.

The ostomate pays for their supplies. The cost will be offset by individual supplementary medical insurance. Some folks who are fortunate enough to have the additional medical insurance can receive up to 80% paid for by the insurance company. But, it must be understood not all people have this additional medical insurance.

Each province (a province is the equivalent to what a state is in the USA), in Canada pays an amount of money in 2 instalment cheques per year to each ostomate. The amount for each province varies, as it is under provincial jurisdiction. For example I am in the province of Ontario, and so 2 times per year (1 in November and 1 in March), I receive a cheque from the provincial government in the amount of $487.50. To receive this money, an individual must be an ostomate, is a Canadian citizen, or an immigrant. This payment must be applied for by the ostomate. Information about reimbursement in other provinces is listed here.

Some ostomates are eligible for a “Disability Tax Credit”, the ostomate must apply to the Federal Government, the attending physician is required to fill out and sign the application form, and the credit eligibility is reviewed and approved by the Federal Government. Not all ostomates will be approved for various criteria reasons.

In my experience and in the experience of many of my fellow ostomates, Enterostomal Nurses (ET Nurses), are our go to professionals for ongoing stoma management. These professionals have the professional experience and the know how that is so very important. Of course, depending on the situation, the physician is a very important part of the ongoing management. But we often feel, the physicians know how to create the ostomy, and the ET Nurses know how to advise us on how to manage them. In addition many communities have Ostomy Support Groups, and peer support has proven to be very valuable to the ostomy individual and community.

Many of the ET nurses have clinics, appointments can be made and there is a cost. In addition, hospitals have a department that provides an ET nurse professional for patients. The various ostomy supply companies have on staff ET nurses who provide (1 day for example), clinics at various pharmacies whereby an ostomate can make an appointment to be examined, ask questions, discuss any issues they may be having with their ostomy and/or equipment, and so on.

Primary Care physicians which we refer to as; General Practitioners (GP), in general seem to have knowledge of what an ostomy and a stoma is of course, but in my experience as an ostomate and by the statements of fellow ostomates, our General Practitioners have only basic knowledge re: ostomy/stoma management. I am painting them with a wide brush here, I am sure there are individual GP’s who are very knowledgeable. The key here is “ongoing ostomy management”, and in my experience it is the ET nurse who is most valuable to the ostomate for ongoing management.

If travelling in Canada and an ostomate encounters some issues, depending on the issues i.e. an emergency, go straight to a hospital. If the ostomate requires equipment, they can look up any medical supply company, that would be helpful. Also, The Ostomy Canada Society website is filled with valuable information and resources, which would provide the travelling ostomate with information such as; locating an ET Nurse in the city/region the ostomate is travelling in.

I would strongly advise any ostomate who is travelling (in Canada or anywhere else for that matter), before leaving home and arriving at destination, that they do their research to compile an information list of; names/address/contact number of hospitals, E.T. Nurse(s), and ostomy medical supply outlets in the region(s) they will be traveling to, and keep it with them. The ostomate travelling to Canada can locate E.T. Nurses in the region they are travelling for example by going to the www.ostomycanada.ca, find “Support” on the top bar of webpage. Click on it and a drop down menu will show, click on “Find An E.T. Nurse” and follow the instructions. On a final note, there are Ostomy Support Groups throughout Canada and so, it would be useful for the travelling ostomate to know what support group is in the area they are travelling to, the contact number, and location.. The support groups in Canada have volunteers at the ready who will be respond as quickly as possible to a phone call to them, and will be a valuable resource for the travelling ostomate.

Wishing you the best.

Jo-Ann Tremblay

Comments 2

  1. Louise’s comment is correct – Manitobans do get FREE Ostomy supplies thanks to lobbying from the Winnipeg Ostomy Group and the support of the provincial government.

  2. In Manitoba, where I lived previously, all of my colostomy supplies were covered by the province. So things are different there than here in Ontario.

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