In a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your local Emergency Department. Free emergency medical care is given regardless of nationality and ability-to-pay. The public health care plan covers emergency care for citizens and permanent residents.
At an Emergency Department you will be required to check in with a nurse at a reception desk. They will ask you for your health card, and inquire as to the reason for your visit. You will then be triaged and seen based on the severity of yours and other patient's complaints. Wait times can be quite long (several hours), but all conditions will be addressed. If your symptoms worsen while you are waiting in the Emergency Department you must bring this to the attention of a nurse or physician.
For minor or non-life threatening illnesses, call 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.
Pharmaceuticals are issued at pharmacies across Canada. Pharmacies are easy to find in Montréal as there are hundreds of them within the city and in Québec at large. Most pharmacies are open regular retail business hours of 8:00 to 21:00, with some pharmacies open 24 hours. a day, seven days a week. Pharmacies do not close on Sundays. Most pharmacies are open on public, provincial, and territorial holidays.
Once your doctor issues you a prescription, you must bring the hard copy of your prescription to a pharmacy to have it filled. When visiting a pharmacy for the first time, you will be asked to provide the pharmacy with you name, address, and phone number. You will also be asked to provide insurance information. Some physicians and pharmacies now use electronic prescriptions, in which case you need only visit the pharmacy to collect your medication.
Prescription drugs are not covered by Medicare in Québec, but are part of a provincial drug insurance plan that has a yearly premium (between $0 and $579) for each citizen, as well as a monthly service fee. The amount of the annual premium varies depending on net family income and it is collected every year by the Ministère du Revenu du Québec when income tax returns are filed. It is possible to opt out of this plan if your place of business offers prescription drug coverage. Prescription drugs are subsidized and prices are quite low.
Depending on your insurance coverage, you may pay for the entire prescription up front and apply for reimbursement after, or you may pay a co-pay of a set amount, or a percentage of the prescription cost. If you are paying for prescription costs, it is best to contact several pharmacies and inquire about pricing, as pharmaceutical costs vary slightly from pharmacy to pharmacy. Some pharmacies also offer incentive programs. Pharmaceuticals are provided free of charge to the elderly.
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!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
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.
For more information on expat health insurance in Canada, visit our partner APRIL International