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Healthcare and Insurance in Montreal

Living in Montréal is among the top choices for expats interested in Canada — although life in Montréal is still very different to life in, say, Toronto, due to Québec’s unique identity within the country. Our expatriate guide to Montréal gives you a first glimpse of what to expect!
Montréal boasts top-of-the-line healthcare institutions.

A Doctor for Every Medical Condition

It is almost needless to point out that the healthcare infrastructure in Montréal is both extensive and of very high quality. No matter what ailment might befall you during your stay in the city, there will be a specialist available to take good care of you. As a major city in every respect, chances are that Montréal is also home to a number of medical professionals fluent in your native tongue, which can make things a good deal easier at times.

The homepage of the City of Montréal offers an overview of healthcare and social services facilities by neighborhood — just use the interactive map to find the nearest institutions near your place of residence. Please note that in some cases, information is only available in French. You should, however, still be able to navigate the basic layout of the pages.

The telephone number for emergency services is 911, as in the rest of the country. These include — apart from ambulances — the police, fire department, coast guard, and other emergency responders. The institution responsible for ambulance services is the Corporation d'Urgences-Santé, which serves Montréal and Laval with a fleet of more than 148 ambulances.  

Soon to Be Covered: Universal Health Insurance

Expats from all over the world are probably aware of the quality and comprehensiveness of the Canadian system of universal healthcare, which is organized on a provincial basis. The Universal Healthcare Plan in Québec is administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

All residents of Québec — and this includes immigrant and expat newcomers, also those who will only temporarily be in Montréal or Québec, and their spouses and dependents — are eligible to receive free medical care under this scheme, as long as they are not absent from Québec for more than 183 days in a calendar year. Temporary workers must be present in the province for their entire stay, excluding periods of 21 days or less. The RAMQ website has further details on the topic of eligibility.

All you need to do is register with the RAMQ in order to receive your medical insurance card. All the necessary administrative steps and different requirements for the various categories of immigrants and foreign workers are listed in this comprehensive step-by-step guide, courtesy of RAMQ.

After a three-month waiting period, all the services included in the coverage are available to you. These include all essential medical procedures and checkups — special treatments such as cosmetic surgery or alternative medicine are generally not covered. When in doubt, make sure to ask your physician if their services are covered by the plan, or see the list of services on the RAMQ website.

When the Waiting Period Doesn’t Apply

Some procedures are available even during the waiting period. These include services related to pregnancy and childbirth, and those required by victims of violence. If you should suffer from an infectious disease that may affect public health, your treatment will also be free of charge. Apart from these exceptions, medical treatments you receive during the waiting period will not be reimbursed.

Furthermore, there are a number of countries which have signed a reciprocity agreement on social security with Québec, namely Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden. If you hail from one of these countries, the three-month waiting period does not apply to you, and you get to benefit from Québec’s health insurance plan right away.

Necessary: Prescription Drug Insurance

Every resident of Québec is required to be covered by prescription drug insurance covering the cost of their medication, as this is not part of the coverage of the healthcare plan we have discussed above. There are two distinct types of prescription drug insurance: private insurance — usually taken care of via a group insurance scheme of your employer — and the public plan, administered by the RAMQ. You can only sign up for the latter if you are not eligible for any kind of private plan.

But no worries, chances are that if a job offer is good enough to make you relocate, it will include prescription drug insurance in its benefits package. Make sure to discuss the services offered by the company insurance plan and the extent of the coverage with your future employer prior to signing.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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