Canada provides universal healthcare for all of its citizens and permanent residents. Established in 1961, the system is administered provincially and territorially and the Government of Canada assures the quality of healthcare in Canada through federal standards. Medicare (assurance-maladie) is the unofficial name for Canada's publicly funded universal health insurance system.
The Ministry of Medicine for Québec (RAMQ) is the governing healthcare system Québec. There is also a unique system of clinics called CLSCs. These centers provide healthcare to a specific region or population. Services include:
A directory of CLSCs can be found at: http://www.santemontreal.qc.ca/en/chercher-une-adresse/#clsc
Each provincial Ministry of Health issues a public health insurance card to individuals enrolled in the public health insurance program. In Québec, this is referred to as the Carte Soleil or Medicare card. This health card entitles you to free health care at physician's offices, specialists, hospitals, walk-in clinics, and emergency medical centers. The card is presented each time you visit a doctor who is part of the public system and tracks the number of visits a patient makes to each clinic or doctor. It then uses that information to manage funding and resources throughout the system. The card shows your name, birth date, address, and gender, as well as a unique identifying number. Health cards also indicate whether or not you wish to be an organ donor, and what level of donation you have agreed to.
Applications for a health card can be made at service outlets (like a CLSC) or at the Régie.
Applications should be made immediately upon receiving permanent residence as there can be long wait periods. During the wait period you must secure temporary private health insurance.
It is your responsibility to renew your health card when it expires (generally every 5 years) and to register for a new health card if you move to a different province or territory.
Most medical records are kept electronically. All of your health records, test results, etc. are stored electronically so they be easily transferred between physicians, specialists, pharmacies, and hospitals. This information is kept private and confidential. No one can see your medical records without your permission, including your family or employer.
In Canada, the individual can choose their doctor. Also known as a general practitioner or GP, patients should see a GP for general medical concerns, routine checkups, vaccinations or to get prescriptions written or refilled.
To see a GP, contact an office or clinic for an appointment. People often ask for references from their friends or co-workers. You may also consult your local CLSC or find a walk-in clinic. For non-emergency care you may also use the Info-Sante (info-health) hotline by dialing 811. A nurse will listen to your concerns and offer advice on care or help make an appointment at the closest CLSC.
When booking a GP appointment, you may be asked to provide your name, phone number, address, and the purpose of your visit. When you arrive at the clinic or office you must register with a receptionist. During your first visit, you will be asked to present your health card, provide your medical history, and other medical concerns.
Doctors are all paid by the provincial government, and they are not permitted to charge any extra fees for any items covered by Medicare.
For non-urgent services, patients are seen at the next available appointment. For GP's this is generally within a few days. For specialists this wait can be several weeks to up to a year. Emergency room wait times vary from 2 to 12 hours for non-life-threatening conditions.
Most people get immunizations or vaccinations to prevent serious diseases. Immunizations are provided at GP offices, clinics, and some schools and workplaces and are often free of charge for children.
Non-routine vaccinations against the chickenpox, Hepatitis A, meningitis, HPV, and influenza are also available. Immunizations may be required before children may attend public school, or may even be provided at the school with parent's consent.
Dentistry is not generally covered by Medicare. Many people opt for coverage under private insurance, often included in their company plan. Carriers reimburse patients based on the level of coverage decided by the patient's employer. Most dental practices offer payment installment plans or financing options. For affordable dental care, consider becoming a patient at a university or college with a dental or dental hygiene program. Services offered at such clinics are generally of very high quality and cost much less.
Engage in good dental hygiene by brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly for dental exams. Regular dental exams cost money, but they are less expensive than fixing serious dental problems. Your needs may be different from what is covered by your dental plan. It is your right to decide whether or not to go ahead with any treatment.
Dental Hygiene Authority in Québec:
Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires du Québec
Address: 1155, rue Université - Bureau 1212
Montréal (Québec) H3B 3A7
Tel: 800-361-2996 or 514-284-7639
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Montreal is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in Canada. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
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Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in Canada: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
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