Health and Hygiene

Green Shield Cards

Once you move out on your own, Your worker will give you a Green Shield card. This card is very valuable and should be kept in a safe place. Your Green Shield card will allow you to get prescriptions, dental care and vision care without having to pay for these services up front.

Health Card

In Ontario, the government covers a lot of health costs. Your health card is your ticket to this health care. You need your health card number when you visit a doctor or go to Emergency at the hospital.

  • There is no fee to get a health card in Ontario. If you move to another province there may be a monthly fee.
  • It is important to have your health card with you at all times, especially if you are going away for the weekend. If you are hurt, or sick in an emergency situation and you don't have your health card with you, you could be charged for your hospital/doctor visit.
  • If you lose your health card, report it to the Ministry of Health right away and get your card replaced. To replace a lost health card call the Ministry of Health at 1-800-664-8988 or visit the website at
  • If your card expires, get it replaced right away. You don't want to be in a position where you have no health coverage in case a medical situation arises.
  • The CAS pays for things like prescriptions and other healthcare needs like birth control (spermicide, foam, condoms), vitamins, bandages and dressings if they are doctor ordered. You can get prescriptions right away by using your Green Shield card at a pharmacy near you.
  • If you are traveling outside of the province, be sure to get additional health coverage for yourself because your Ontario Health card does not work in other provinces or countries. Ask your worker to help you find travel health insurance if you are leaving the province. Even if you're going to the USA just for a day of shopping!
  • If you are in care, your worker should have a copy of your health card in your file or at least know the number.


Canadian health care does not include dental coverage, although they do suggest you get your teeth cleaned at least once a year. CAS provides dental coverage for twice a year cleanings and check-ups.

  • If you live in Toronto you can visit the CAS Dentist at 30 Isabella Street. You can make an appointment by calling 416-924-4640 extension 2043.
  • If you live outside of Toronto or the CAS dentist is not in a handy location for you, you can find a dentist in your community and pay for your visit by using you Green Shield card.
  • Mention your Green Shield coverage when you make your appointment. Not all dentists accept Green Shield.

Vision Care

If you are 19 and under, you should see an eye doctor every year. When you are 20 and older, you should have your eyes tested every other year. CAS will pay up to $250 every two years for your eye glasses and contact lenses. You can use your Green Shield card to pay for eye doctor fees and eye glass prescriptions (at some retailers; ask first if they accept the Green Shield card for payment). If you are 19 and younger, OHIP covers the cost of your eye doctor appointment.

Health Clinics

If you don't already have a doctor, you may want to get one… or if you need something looked at quickly you can use a walk-in-clinic. The number for walk-in clinics should be listed in the telephone book under "clinics – medical". If it's an emergency, you can go to emergency department at a hospital near you. They're open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wait times are very long so you could call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for medical advice. They will be able to advise you on whether or not you need to go to the emergency department or not.

Telehealth Ontario provides a free and confidential service where you can get advice and information from Registered Nurses. The service is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, year-round. When contacting Telehealth, you will be asked a series of questions designed to help assess the seriousness of the problem you're experiencing. Based on this assessment, Telehealth's Registered Nurses will advise you of treatment options available to you, and recommend a course of action. Telehealth will not require your Ontario Health Card number to assist you.

How to get a Doctor

It can be a good idea to have a doctor you go to regularly. Finding a doctor that you feel comfortable with may take some time. To begin, ask people that you trust who their doctor is. Maybe they can refer you to a doctor who is accepting new patients. You can ask for a male or female doctor.

Once you have the number for a doctor, you have to phone and see if they are taking new patients. If they are, set up an appointment to meet. Have some health questions ready when you meet your doctor. Check the doctor out. Do you feel ok with him or her? Does the doctor give you clear info? If not, you might want to keep looking until you find a doctor you're comfortable with.

If you have trouble finding a doctor who is accepting new patients, you can go to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website and do a "doctor search". This will give you a list of all the doctors in your area who are accepting new patients.

Safer Sex and STI's (Sexually Transmitted Infections) A sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is any infection you get from having sexual contact with a person who has the infection. There are some STI's that you can also get without having sexual contact. For example, when you share dirty needles, infected blood may be passed and result in HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis B.


1. Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is a virus that causes painful sores around the genitals. Touching an open sore during sex usually spreads it. This virus can be spread when there are no obvious sores. It is important to use a latex condom to prevent the spread of genital herpes.

2. Crabs, Scabies or Pubic Lice

Crabs and scabies are tiny insects that often like to live in the pubic area and can be very itchy. Insects can be transferred during sex, but you can also get them from bed sheets, towels or wearing the clothes of someone who has them. Scabies and crabs can be treated with special creams, lotions or shampoos that are available at most drug stores.


HIV/AIDS is a very serious virus that can result in death. The virus spreads through sharing body fluids such as blood, semen, or vaginal fluids with a person who has HIV/AIDS. This can occur during sex or when sharing needles. A pregnant woman can also give HIV/AIDS to her unborn baby, and mothers can give it to their kids through breast-feeding. HIV is the first stage of the virus that later turns into AIDS. If you think you might have HIV, go and get a test. A simple blood test can determine if you have HIV/AIDS. When someone has HIV/AIDS, that person is "HIV positive."

I don't want to know if I have HIV/AIDS. I am too scared to get the test, and don't know what to do if I find out I am HIV positive. Having HIV/AIDS is scary. But if you are HIV positive and don't know, you do not have a chance to take drugs that are helping some people with HIV/AIDS. People with HIV can live long and productive lives if they follow their doctor's treatment. Without treatment your condition can worsen quickly and you could get full blown AIDS and die. It is important to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. You MUST tell anyone you've had sex or shared needles with if you are HIV positive. They have the right to know. They should also get tested!

4. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

This is not really an STI … but if STI's are left untreated, women can get PID. An STI can spread and cause infections in the lining of the uterus, fallopian tube and the ovaries. If left untreated, PID can cause very serious damage and cause infertility in women.

5. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a sickness of the liver caused by a virus. It can't be cured. You can have Hepatitis B and not know, but you can still give it to other people. Hepatitis B is one of the only STI's that can be prevented by a vaccination (a shot in the arm).

6. Gonorrhea and Syphilis

These two infections can be very serious. They used to be called VD or Venereal disease. Both can cause pain when you urinate. Syphilis can show up as a painless sore (looking like a pimple) on the genitals, but can also appear on the lips, breast or anus. If untreated, it will increase and spread and can cause serious deformities and even death in an unborn child. If untreated, Gonorrhea can lead to PID.

You just never know what this can lead to…Don't take chances with STI's! ALWAYS wear a condom!

7. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STD's. It can spread silently and cause infertility in women (the inability to have children). It can give an unborn child infection of the eyes or lungs. If you are sexually active, you should ask to be tested for this STD every year.

8. Genital Warts

Genital Warts are growths on or around the genitals or anal area in both males and females. They sometimes look like a small cauliflower or they may be flat and hard to see. The warts hurt if they have been irritated. Genital Warts are highly contagious and are caused by a sub-type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes many cases of cervical cancer as well as some forms of anal cancer.

  • MYTH: Only homosexual and bisexual couples can get HIV/AIDS.
  • FACT: Anyone can get HIV/AIDS. It is not a homosexual virus, so don't take chances!


Abstain from having sex or intimate body contact. TO DECREASE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING AN STI:

  • Always use a latex condom.
  • Never share needles for drugs, tattoos or body piercing.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Have yourself and your partner tested for STI's.

Remember: Not everything can be tested for. Herpes and genital warts are only obvious when there's a sore.

The morning-after pill can also be used as a form of birth control if you have unprotected sex or if a condom breaks. However, it must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse. If you have had unprotected sex, you can ask about the morning-after pill at your doctor's, Teen Health Centre or a local health clinic. You can also get it without a prescription at any pharmacy.

IT'S BETTER TO USE CONDOMS IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OF YOUR PARTNER'S HISTORY. Some possible symptoms of STI's: 1. Sores on the genitals, followed by a rash spreading all over the body. 2. Discharge from the vagina or penis. 3. A burning feeling when urinating 4. No symptoms at all!

Birth Control

If you don't know the different types of birth control or have questions about sexual health, call the Aids and Sexual Health Info Line at 1-800-668-2437. They are a province-wide free anonymous service staffed by professional, multidisciplinary, and multicultural counselors who offer assistance in different languages.

Hours of operation are:

Monday to Friday 9am – 11:30pm
Saturday & Sunday 11am – 4pm
Closed statutory holidays


Pregnancy can occur:

  • The first time you have sex
  • If you chose to have sex without using birth control
  • If your birth control fails

The first signs of pregnancy are usually a missed period…but you can become pregnant if your body is preparing to start your period and you have never had one.

Do you need a Pregnancy Test?

A pregnancy test kit can be obtained at the drug store if you have the money. If you cannot afford a pregnancy test, you can have it done through your doctor or local birth control / health clinic.

I'm Pregnant! What Now?

If your pregnancy test is positive and you were not planning on having a baby, you will have to decide what to do.

Becoming a Parent

  • You may decide this is the best choice for you if:
  • You believe you want to continue your pregnancy, and are ready to be a parent.
  • You can plan for your health care now and after your baby is born.
  • You believe you have the energy and time to be a caring parent.
  • You believe you can handle parenting responsibilities for the next 18 years.
  • You realize that you may have to raise your child alone.
  • You can provide for your child and yourself; food, clothing, medical and dental care etc.
  • You realize you may have to change your future plans in order to meet the needs of your child.

Choosing Adoption

You may decide this is the best choice for you if:

  • You want to continue your pregnancy but are not ready to be a parent.
  • You feel your child will have a better life with another family.
  • You can plan for your health care now and after your baby is born.
  • You can make the necessary adoption arrangements.
  • You will be able to give your baby to adoptive parents even though it may be hard for you.
  • You realize you may never see your child once s/he is adopted.

Choosing Abortion

You may decide this is the best choice for you if:

  • You do not want to continue with your pregnancy and do not want to be a parent.
  • You feel that adoption is not a choice that you can make right now.
  • You have thought about abortion and freely make the decision.
  • You are not under pressure to make this decision.
  • You are able to make the necessary plans to have an abortion, including care after the abortion.
  • You are aware that some women have conflicting feelings about having an abortion.

Each of these different options has their strengths and weakness. It may be wise to talk with a counselor at the local birth control/health clinic or have your doctor refer you. Also, for each of these choices, you will need to seek other services.


You need to contact your doctor Or a health clinic as soon as you think you are pregnant, otherwise you may not have as many choices. It is important to get the proper support and referral to the proper service/resources. Time is important!

Drugs and Alcohol

If you've answered YES to any of the above statements, you might have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol.


If you have lived in a family where alcoholism or drug abuse existed, you may want to get some support. For help or to talk to someone about your drinking or drug use, you can phone DART (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Infoline) at 1-800-565-8603. They can give emotional support and refer you to other local drug and alcohol resources in your area. They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your CAS worker or family doctor may also be able to connect you with someone who can help.

Hygiene Basics

Grooming Routines
1. Hair

Wash your hair several times a week using soap or mild shampoo. Avoid shampoos with borax or alkalis. Rinse well. This is more important than working up a head load of lather.

2. Skin

Soap and water are essential for keeping the skin clean. A good shower once or twice a day is recommended. Those who are involved in active sports or work out to a sweat would do well to take a shower after the activity. A mild soap will do the job adequately.
You can use a bath sponge for scrubbing. Back brushes and heel scrubbers are available. But do not use abrasive material. The genitals and the anus need to be cleaned well because of the natural secretions of these areas, in unhygienic conditions, can cause irritation and infection. Wash off well after soaping. Drying with a clean towel is important. Avoid sharing soaps and towels. Change into clean underwear after a shower.

3. Teeth

Brush teeth twice a day and rinse well after every meal. Brushing before going to bed is important. (Especially recommended for people with a sweet tooth). For normal teeth this is adequate.
The brush should have resilient bristles. It should be rinsed well and left to dry after use. There are no perfect toothpastes or powders. Use one without harsh abrasives or strong antiseptics.

4. Hands

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after every meal and after visiting the toilet. Soaping and rinsing should cover the areas between fingers, nails and back of the hand. Hands should be dried with a clean towel after wash. The towel at the wash stand has to be washed and changed everyday.

5. Ear Wax

Cerumen or ear wax accumulates in the ear canal that leads from the outer ear to the ear drum. As the secretion comes out of the ear it collects dust particles which might have got in from outside. Daily wash with soap and water is enough to keep the outer ear clean. Do not reach farther than you can with your little finger into your ear. Nature has not provided for it. Putting in hairpins, safety pins or blunt edged things for cleaning purposes might harm the ear. If you feel wax has accumulated and is plugging your ears and interfering with hearing, consult your doctor.

6. Menstrual Hygiene

No woman feels completely comfortable when she has her period. If it is not pre menstrual tension or stomach cramps it is the problem of dealing with the menstrual flow.
Some women prefer tampons to external pads. A plug of absorbent cotton or gauze is inserted inside. But these should not be left unchanged beyond six hours. Some brands state that tampons left unchanged for more than 12-18 hours increases the possibility of toxic shock.
Whatever the preference, washing is important. There need be no taboo about bathing on these days. Some people have the problem of odour during menstruation. Cleanliness and change of pad/tampon as often as is necessary reduces this problem. It is not advisable to use perfumed pads or tampons. In fact, using powder in the genital area is not recommended.