A Few Questions from an American Mom Moving to Quebec


I am an American mother of three young children (all under 5) and will likely be moving to Quebec because my husband will be working for a company there.

As US citizens working in Quebec I have three main questions.
1. Is pre-school free?
2. Is healthcare free?  Do we need health insurance?  Do I use my current health insurance or get new insurance in Quebec?
3. What taxes will we be expected to pay aside from federal and local income taxes (I assume we have to pay those).

Any info or suggestions of websites to check out would be appreciated.  I'm trying to get a sense of whether my husband's salary will be enough to pay taxes, put our kids in preschool, pay for healthcare, and well, live...


Dear Nancy,

You certainly have alot on your plate!  I moved here from New York 8 years ago so I think I can help you.

1) Pre-school:  Preschool in Montreal (I assume that is where you are living) is not exactly free but it is heavily subsidized by the government.  If you register your child early enough, you might be lucky and snag a spot at one of these subsidized day cares.  They cost you $7.00 CAD a day per child.  If you do not get a spot, then your next best bet is to look at the preschool programs at your local YMCA.  They are generally quite good.  Of course, there is always private preschool, but they are expensive and average around $4000 a year and up.

2) Health care is free.  You need to register with the provincial health authorities called the RAMQ.  Google this acronym and you will get their site along with a step by step guide on how to apply.  Note that it will take you 3 months from the time you register until the time your health care kicks in so you will need private health insurance for that time.  Your husband's employer should pay for this!

3) Taxes:  Montreal is an absolutely fantastic city except for the taxes which are high. You have to pay your city tax, school tax, federal and provincial income tax and there is a %15 tax on everything you buy (Goods and Service Tax).  Depending on your husband's income, you can expect to pay up to have his earnings in tax.

A word of advice, lobby your husband's new employer for some relocation assistance.  They should be helping you with something.  There is a fantastic relocation agency called Belvedere.  They are very caring and full of great tips.  Plus, companies like them because they are not expensive.  The site is belvedereco.ca.  Good luck!