Health & insurance
Before You Go
Québec offers some of the finest health care in the world. However, unless you are a Canadian citizen, it can be prohibitively expensive. It's essential to purchase travel health insurance if your regular policy doesn't cover you when you're abroad. Check www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance for supplemental insurance information.
Pharmacies are abundant, but prescriptions can be expensive without insurance. Bring medications you may need clearly labeled in their original containers. A signed, dated letter from your physician that describes your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea.
- acetaminophen (eg Tylenol) or aspirin
- anti-inflammatory drugs (eg ibuprofen)
- antihistamines (for hay fever and allergic reactions)
- antibacterial ointment (eg Neosporin) for cuts and abrasions
- steroid cream or cortisone (for poison ivy and other allergic rashes)
- bandages, gauze, gauze rolls
- adhesive or paper tape
- safety pins
- insect repellent
- motion-sickness medication
No special vaccines are required or recommended for travel to Canada. All travelers should be up to date on routine immunizations, however.
- Government travel-health websites are available for Australia (www.smarttraveller.gov.au), the United Kingdom (www.nhs.uk/healthcareabroad) and the United States (www.cdc.gov/travel).
- Public Health Agency of Canada (www.phac-aspc.gc.ca) Canadian health resources.
- World Health Organization (www.who.int) General health resources.
- MD Travel Health (https://redplanet.travel/mdtravelhealth) General health resources.
In Québec City
Tap water in Québec City is perfectly safe to drink.
Cold exposure is a significant problem here. Keep all body surfaces covered, including the head and neck. Watch out for the 'Umbles' – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles and grumbles – which are signs of impending hypothermia.
Canadian health care is excellent but it’s not free to visitors, so be sure to get travel insurance before you leave home. Canada has no reciprocal health care with other countries and nonresidents will have to pay up front for treatment (often in cash) and wait for the insurance payback.
Long waits – particularly in the emergency room – are common. Avoid going to the hospital if possible. If the problem isn't urgent, call a nearby hospital and ask for a referral to a local physician, which is usually cheaper than a trip to the emergency room (where costs can be $500 or so before any treatment).
Clinique Proactive Santé de la Cité-Limoilou This facility near the train and bus stations is the most central walk-in clinic in town.
Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval Affiliated with Université Laval, this emergency facility is 8.5km southwest of the center.
L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec The city's oldest and most centrally located hospital.
Info-Santé 811 Free and confidential telephone consultation service with nurses available round the clock.