Visiting a doctor in Canada
Canadian GPs or family doctors provide routine and primary care (cold, flu, etc.) to patients from Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm or 6pm and on Saturday mornings. They speak English and in Quebec, New Brunswick, and North Ontario, they speak French too. Fees vary from one province to another and depend on the treatment provided. Consultation fees range from 50 CAD to 85 CAD on average. If you don't have health insurance, you have to pay before the consultation.
Doctors are in short supply and it can be difficult to get an appointment. If you can't find a GP, you can go to a medical clinic ('walk-in' clinic) without a prior appointment.
If you need specific treatment, your GP will refer you to a specialist doctor. As there are only a few specialist doctors, waiting times to get an appointment are long so certain treatments (gynecological examinations for example) may be provided by your GP. Some specialist doctors like ophthalmologists do not require a referral.
GPs in Quebec
There are different categories of doctors in Quebec:
- GPs who accept the health insurance card: you don't have to make cash advances and the doctor will be paid directly by the RAMQ.
- "Opted Out" doctors: you pay the consultation up front and send the bill to the RAMQ to get reimbursed.
- "Non-participating doctors who do not accept the health insurance card: you support all expenses and the consultation is not reimbursed by the RAMQ.
Always check your doctor's status before booking a visit.
Doctors in Quebec receive patients from 8am to 4pm or 6pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings. They speak French and often English too.
There are not enough doctors in Quebec and waiting times to get an appointment can be very long, like in the other provinces of Canada.
Specialist Doctors in Quebec
If you need specific treatment, your GP will refer you to a specialist doctor. Once again, specialists are in short supply and waiting times can be long. Only book an appointment if the case is serious. For example, for an eye test and prescription glasses, you can go to an optician. However, for cataracts, you should book an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
Being admitted to hospital in Canada
Hospitals use advanced technologies and provide high-quality medical devices and staff. Basic care may be provided at public hospitals but waiting times are often long. If you do not have health insurance coverage, you will need to pay before your consultation as is the case for GPs. Consultation fees at private hospitals range from 150 CAD to 400 CAD on average.
Emergency services are open 24 hours a day in most hospitals but waiting times are also long. If you do not have health insurance coverage and need to receive emergency care, the hospital will ask you to pay a 1,000 CAD deposit.
Walk-in clinics in Canada
These are “consultation centers” that generally operate during working hours and provide routine or emergency care without a prior appointment. As they are much appreciated, waiting times may be long. Consultation fees are not higher than those of GPs.
In case of emergency, call 911.
Hospitals in Quebec
Basic care may be provided in public hospitals but waiting times are often long. Emergency services Emergency services are open 24 hours a day in most hospitals but waiting times are also long. The most serious cases will be taken care of in priority.
The walk-in clinics
In Quebec there are walk-in clinics that generally operate during working hours, as is the case in the other Canadian provinces. If you have trouble finding a GP, these clinics provide basic care and consultations without a prior appointment. As they are much appreciated, waiting times may be long. However, consultation fees are not higher than those of GPs.
In case of emergency, call 911.