Updated 7 months ago

When you arrive in Quebec, you must go to the "Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ)" to request a health insurance card called "carte Soleil". This card gives you access to healthcare services covered by the healthcare system of the province.

Permanent residents and holders of a work or student permit can obtain it, as long as they have been staying in Quebec for more than 183 days.

Some drugs and health services like orthodontics and osteopathy are not covered by the basic health care. It is then recommended subscribing to a private health insurance. Most of the employers will offer you a second insurance. Check with the company you work with to know if they have one. You will be compelled to subscribe to the insurance offered by your employer, otherwise, you will be required to reimburse the fees covered by the RAMQ.

 Good to know:

If you do not have a private health insurance, it is mandatory to subscribe to the public drugs insurance. The amount you will be required to pay will be calculated according to your net income.

Obtaining a health insurance card

The "carte Soleil" gives you access to free health services in public health institutions. In order to obtain a subscription form, you need to go to the nearest RAMQ centre. You will be required to provide additional documents like your passport, a proof of your immigrant status in Canada, your Quebec Selection Certificate, etc.

You must also provide an identity photo to the measurements requested by the RAMQ. You can generally take it in the RAMQ centre. Otherwise, you will have to go to a supermarket and ask for a RAMQ certified photo. After presenting the documents, you will receive a letter regarding your coverage by the RAMQ and the beginning date. Then, you will receive your "carte Soleil".

If you are a citizen of Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal or Sweden, you can present a proof of affiliation in the healthcare system of your country that you must request before leaving. This document will allow you to benefit from the RAMQ right from the beginning while other applicants need to wait three months.

Make sure you always have the card with you, do not give it to anyone and do not lose it. You may lose its benefits if you give it to someone else. Criminal charges may also be pressed and you may take the risk of being deported from Canada. If you lose it or if you damage it, you will have to pay replacement fees (between 15 and 25 CAD). If you want to know more, you can check RAMQ website.

 Good to know:

If you are a tourist or if you came with a WHV, you will not be covered by the RAMQ and you must subscribe to a private insurance.

Where to get healthcare in Quebec?

If you are sick in Quebec, you can walk into a clinic "without appointments". Although they are called "clinics without appointments", it is generally better to call the day before or early in the morning to save a spot. For others, you will have to come very early and hope you can see a doctor before it closes. According to the clinic you chose, you may have to wait a few hours before being checked by a doctor. There are also private clinics where you will be able to see a doctor more quickly but the treatments are not covered by the RAMQ.

You can also go to the hospital. The main benefit is that you will be able to have all the necessary medical examinations at the same place. However, the waiting list is extremely long: you may spend the whole day or even the night waiting.

There is also a third option: you can find a family doctor and make an appointment directly with him rather than going to the clinic. Because there are fewer family doctors in Quebec, the government set up in April 2016 a waiting list for a family doctor online. After you register to the waiting list, you will be asked to wait until a family doctor is chosen for you.

 Good to know:

Some clinics do not accept new patients. If you want to find a list of clinics without appointments that accept new patients or to know their opening hours and their waiting delays, you can check the lists on Bonjour santé and the Santé mieux-être portal.

Being pregnant in Quebec

Temporary residents with a tourist visa and people with a WHV cannot benefit from the RAMQ. Women in this situation who get pregnant must pay for pregnancy checks and the delivery and get a private health insurance. This can become very expensive, over 10.000 CAD, although the price may vary according to the kind of delivery and the necessary care. However, permanent residents and women with a work permit benefit from the health insurance of Quebec and will not pay for treatments related to their pregnancy or the delivery.

In Quebec, it is possible to give birth in the hospital, in a birthing centre or at home. The pregnancy checks begin after the third month. Birthing centres are centres where the services are only managed by midwives. Only women with a safe pregnancy can deliver in a birthing centre or at home.

Children who are born in Quebec become Canadian. However, it is strictly forbidden to come to Quebec with the sole purpose of giving birth in the country. Moreover, parents must pay medical fees.

 Useful links:

Régie Assurance Maladie du Québec - RAMQ
Ministère de la Santé du Québec (Health Ministry of Quebec)

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