Welcome to Carnets de route

Carnets de route contains information specifically aimed at refugees and refugee claimants, as well as the people assisting them. Carnets de route is intended to help you with the process of settling in when you arrive and during your first few years in Québec. 

 

With Carnets de route, you will enjoy an engaging experience: reliable, organized and accessible information about Québec society, steps to take, to-do lists, timelines, summary diagrams and much more!

 

Select whether you would like to view the website in English or French, then answer the following three questions to be directed to the right information.

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Your profile

Refugee Claims

You have made a refugee claim at a port of entry or from inside Canada. You are waiting for your hearing to determine whether you will be recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection.

Accepted Refugee Claims

After making a refugee claim in Canada, you have had your hearing and have been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You can apply for permanent residency.

Refused Refugee Claims

You have had your hearing and have not been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You are exploring the different options available to you.

Refugees

You arrived in Canada as a refugee and with permanent residency. You are being supported by a host organization or sponsorship group (sponsor) during your first year in Québec.

Health Care

Key organizations and individuals

1. Updates – Health Care

The content of Carnets de route was updated in November 2023, unless otherwise indicated. Some elements may have changed since then. If in doubt, consult the sources and resources in this section. You can also report any information requiring change through Technical Support. Update dates may vary by section.

2. Québec’s health care system

(Collectif Bienvenue, 2023h, 2023h; Gouvernement du Québec, 2022a; Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020b; MSSSMinistère de la Santé et des Services sociaux , 2018; Services juridiques de Pointe-Saint-Charles et Petite-Bourgogne, 2017; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2021; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023e)

2.1 Important facts

In Québec, the health care system is public and most care is available free of charge. Health professionals are well trained and the care is of good quality. However, there are sometimes long wait times to get some types of care, such as non-urgent surgery. This is true for everyone, including Canadian citizens.

2.1.1 Access to health care

  • Nurses have a wealth of knowledge and can offer a wide range of treatments. Some nurses can prescribe medication and refer you to specialists.
  • Pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and can offer you a pharmacy consultation. 
  • It can be difficult to get an appointment at a clinic. See RAMQ IFHP to find out how to make an appointment. 
  • If you are unable to make an appointment at a clinic, don’t hesitate to talk to your friends, counsellors, etc. These people can share ideas or other options to help you see the right health professional.
  • You will not have a family doctor when you arrive in Canada. You must register on a waiting list: Québec Family Doctor Finder The wait times are several years. As a refugee claimant, you are not entitled to a family doctor.

You may be turned away from your health appointment if you arrive late.

2.1.2 Important clarifications

  • Access to care: Your medical results will not influence your immigration status or your access to the care and services you need. For example, people living with HIVHuman immunodeficiency virus or hepatitis C are protected from discrimination in Québec. They have access to the necessary health services.
  • Duty of confidentiality: Because of their duty to keep your personal information confidential, employees of the health and social services network are not allowed to share information about your health without your authorization, regardless of their job title. See Confidentiality in the Read This Information First section for more details.
  • Access to an interpreter: If you do not speak English or French, the health institution can provide an interpreter. If possible, let the institution know in advance that you would like an interpreter. See Interpreters in the Read This Information First section for more details.
  • Consent to care for people aged 14 and over: From the age of 14, young people can make their own appointments and attend medical consultations on their own. Young people can generally consent to care by themselves (including contraception). A person aged 14 or over can therefore ask to be alone (without the presence or the consent of their parents or guardian) when seeing a nurse, doctor or counsellor, for example, and can make their own decisions about their health care. 
  • Abortion: Abortion is available and legal in Québec.

Resources offering abortion services – Government of Québec

Make sure you inform the health institutions you visit of any change of address or contact information (phone or email). For more information, see Change of address and contact information in Read This Information First.

2.1.3 Referrals and prescription drugs

The Québec health care system works on referrals, prescriptions and renewals:

Referrals
Prescriptions
Renewing your prescriptions

Here in Canada, you need a referral before going to see a specialist. In our countries, you don’t work with this system of medical referrals. – Carolina M.

2.1.4 Documents to present

Every time you want to receive care, you must present:

  • Your health insurance card Your Refugee Protection Claimant Document (brown paper) or your Acknowledgement of Claim
  • Your vaccination record, if you have one
  • Your claim slip (“blue slip”), if you receive social assistance
  • Your private health insurance information, if any

2.2 Services based on your needs

In Carnets de route, the term “clinic” is used to refer to family medicine groups (FMGs), local community service centres (CLSCs) and other health centres for less urgent care (general or specialized). Clinics can be public or private. 

Questions about your health

If you have a question about your health and whether you should see a doctor or other health professional (for example, you fall on your head, strange spots appear on your skin, you are dealing with grief, etc.):

Services to use:

  • 811: 
    • Info-Santé: call 811, option 1
    • Info-Social: call 811, option 2
    • 811 is a telephone service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 
  • Pharmacies: depending on your needs, pharmacists can offer you a pharmacy consultation or direct you to other health specialists.

Serious emergencies

If you have a serious emergency that cannot wait more than a few hours to be treated (for example, a severe allergic reaction, a broken arm, etc.):

Services to use: 

  • 911: For immediate emergency assistance (police, ambulance, fire department, etc.).
  • Hospital emergency rooms: Go to the emergency room of the hospital of your choice. Waits can be very long for less urgent problems (for example, urinary tract infections). List of hospitals in Québec: Hôpitaux – Trouver un centre hospitalier (CH) – Index Santé [in French]. 

All of these services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If the situation is very urgent, call 911. If necessary, an ambulance will take you to the hospital. Fees for transportation may apply.

Consultations that are serious but not urgent

If you need to:

  • See a health professional for health or psychosocial (well-being) problems that are serious, but not urgent
    • For example, you have a cold that will not go away or seems to be getting worse
    • For example, you are very stressed 
  • Renew a medication
  • Be referred to a specialist
  • Access care related to your sexual health, such as contraception or screenings for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections
  • See a health professional about your lifestyle habits (sleep, nutrition, etc.)
  • Get vaccinated, get a blood test or urinalysis, get treatment for a wound

Services to use

  • CLSCs: to find the one nearest you, see Finding a CLSC – Répertoire des ressources en santé et services sociaux. Call the selected CLSCLocal community service centre to find out how to make an appointment. If you arrive without an appointment, you may be turned away or have to wait a long time.
  • Medical clinics, including FMGs and other clinics: although some medical clinics have a “walk-in” service, you generally have to make an appointment the day before.
  • PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) clinic: call the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) clinic at 514-484-7878, extension 64517 and leave a voicemail.

To get an appointment at a CLSCLocal community service centre or medical clinic:

  • If you live in Greater Montréal, call 811 and select option 3 to access the Primary Care Access Point.
    Tell them that you are a refugee claimant and have no RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec health insurance card, so you are unable to get on the waiting list for a family doctor.
  • Use one of the following online appointment platforms:
  • Try calling the clinics directly to make an appointment. Every clinic works differently. Sometimes you have to call the day before at a specific time to get an appointment. You can also try to arrive before a clinic opens and wait at the door, but there is no guarantee that you will get an appointment.

Pregnancy and early childhood

If you are pregnant and/or you have a very young child (aged 0–5) and need one of the following: pregnancy follow-up, prenatal workshops, postnatal follow-up, breastfeeding support, vaccinations, etc.:  

Services to use:

  • Ma grossesse service
    Sign up for the Ma grossesse service for pregnancy follow-up and information about services offered in multiple languages: Ma grossesse service | Government of Québec
  • CLSCs: Finding a CLSC – Répertoire des ressources en santé et services sociaux
  • La Maison Bleue (Greater Montréal): Support and perinatal services for pregnant people and families with children aged 0–5 Contact – La Maison Bleue 
  • PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) : Call the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) at 514-484-7878, extension 64517 and leave a voicemail

Specialists

Some types of specialized care require a referral from a general practitioner or specialized nurse. 

For example, surgery, dermatology, complex illnesses, etc.

Note that it can take a long time to get an appointment.

Specialized care

Services to use: many types of specialized medical care are available at clinics (CLSCs, FMGs, etc.) without needing a referral. This is the case for physiotherapists, psychologists, dentists, optometrists, etc.

The services offered vary from clinic to clinic: it is best to contact them directly to check. Many specialized clinics are private.

You may have to pay the entire cost of the service if you are no longer covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program and the service is not covered by private insurance.

Medication

Some medications can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription, while others must be prescribed for you.

Services to use: pharmacies

Before going there, contact the pharmacy to check whether it accepts medical prescriptions from people covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program . For more details, see IFHP.

Private fee-based clinics

You can also receive health services from private clinics, which will charge you for the care you receive. This is generally expensive.

2.3 Service resources based on your needs

811 Info-Santé

Available 24/7 – Health advice and referrals

811 Info-Social

Available 24/7 – Social services advice and referrals

911

Available 24/7 – For immediate emergency assistance (police, ambulance, fire department, etc.)

List of hospitals in Québec

Emergency rooms available 24/7 

Finding a CLSCLocal community service centre – Government of Québec

Ma grossesse service – Government of Québec

Multilingual – Pregnancy follow-up, support and information

La Maison Bleue

Greater Montréal – Support and perinatal services for pregnant people and families with children aged 0–5

To get an appointment at a CLSCLocal community service centre or medical clinic:

Book a medical appointment – Clic Santé

Book an appointment – Répertoire de ressources en santé et services sociaux – Government of Québec 

3. IFHP

(CERDACentre d’expertise sur le bien-être et l’état de santé physique des réfugiés et des demandeurs d’asile et al., 2023; Collectif Bienvenue, 2023h; Croix Bleue Medavie, 2016; IRCCImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada , 2017c, 2023o; Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020b; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2021; Trosseille et al., 2019)

3.1 How the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program works

You are automatically covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program as soon as you arrive in Québec, and you do not have any steps to take.

When you arrive in Québec, you must wait to receive your health insurance card before being covered by the RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec . During this period, you are covered by another type of coverage called the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program .

Once you have received your RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec health insurance card, and during your first year in Québec, you will still be covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program for other services. You have access to certain additional services thanks to the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program , for example a psychologist, a physiotherapist, a dentist, an optometrist and mobility aids.

You will receive an IFHPInterim Federal Health Program eligibility document when you arrive at the airport. If you do not receive it, follow these instructions: Guide 5568 – Application for Interim Federal Health Program Coverage (IFHP) – Canada.ca.

Your host organization or sponsorship group will help you find specialists that accept the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program . If you are unable to find one, you may have to go to private clinics that do not accept the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program and pay for some types of care yourself.

As a refugee claimant, you are covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program throughout the refugee claim process. You can use your Refugee Protection Claimant Document or your Acknowledgement of Claim to have these services covered.

You are not covered by the RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec , which is the public health insurance plan for most people in Québec. 

Only health professionals registered as IFHPInterim Federal Health Program providers with Medavie Blue Cross can provide you with free or low-cost services. Health professionals who are not registered have the right to refuse you care or charge you for costs. A small minority of clinics and some CLSCs accept the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program .

The IFHPInterim Federal Health Program is not always well understood by health professionals. You may have to explain what the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program is in some places and insist on receiving care. However, hospital emergency rooms are required to provide care.

IFHPInterim Federal Health Program Toolkit – CERDACentre d’expertise sur le bien-être et l’état de santé physique des réfugiés et des demandeurs d’asile

Information about the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program

Do not pay for IFHPInterim Federal Health Program -covered care out of your own pocket, as you will not be reimbursed.

3.2 Steps to follow to access health care

If you need to go to the hospital emergency room

Go there directly.

All hospitals must accept people covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program .

If you would like to go to a clinic or CLSCLocal community service centre or receive a specialized service

Call ahead to check whether the clinic accepts the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program . Some CLSCs and a small minority of clinics accept the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program .

You can also try “super clinics” or access/network FMGs. These clinics are more likely to accept people with IFHPInterim Federal Health Program coverage than other types of clinics. For the list: Family medicine group (FMG), University family medicine group (U-FMG) and super clinic | Government of Québec.

If you have trouble finding a clinic outside Montréal, call the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) : 514 484-7878, extension 5 or extension 64517.

Once you arrive

If you have your Refugee Protection Claimant Document, show this at the desk.

If you do not have your Refugee Protection Claimant Document yet, show your Acknowledgement of Claim and indicate your UCIUnique client identifier number. This document proves that you are in the process of obtaining a Refugee Protection Claimant Document and are therefore covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program

Show your IFHPInterim Federal Health Program eligibility document.

There are two possible scenarios:

Scenario 1: You receive the services free of charge. 

Scenario 2: The clinic refuses to give you free care.

If the clinic refuses to give you free care

  • Do not pay
  • Here are your options:
    • Try another clinic
    • If you live in Greater Montréal, call 811, option 3 to find out which clinics accept IFHPInterim Federal Health Program coverage.

Finding a Doctor – The Welcome Guide – Welcome Collective

Greater Montréal – List of medical clinics that accept IFHPInterim Federal Health Program coverage

You can also inform your host organization call the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) if you have problems accessing care: 514 484-7878, extension 5 or extension 64517.

The IFHPInterim Federal Health Program is not well known. In addition, access to care can be even harder to get outside Montréal. Don’t hesitate to contact a counsellor or the PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) for help.

3.3 Steps to follow to access prescription drugs

If you have just arrived and have not received your health insurance card yet, follow these steps:

  1. Consult a doctor or nurse for a prescription.
  2. If you have a prescription for a drug or a refill, pick it up at a pharmacy.
  3. Find a pharmacy that accepts the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program . It is best to call ahead to check. Go to the pharmacy between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the pharmacy will need to contact Medavie Blue Cross.
  4. Bring the following documents with you:
  • Your prescription
  • Your Refugee Protection Claimant Document or your Acknowledgement of Claim, mentioning that you are covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program
  • Your IFHPInterim Federal Health Program eligibility document
  1. The vast majority of prescription drugs are covered. Your pharmacist can confirm whether your prescribed medication is covered.
    If the drug is not covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program , the pharmacist can sometimes offer an equivalent drug. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the prescribed medication.
  2. If the drug is covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program :
Scenario 1:
Scenario 2:

3.4 Services covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program

(Croix Bleue Medavie, 2022; Régie de l’assurance maladie, s. d.-d)

Basic coverage

  • Hospital services
  • Physician services
  • Care, housing and all associated costs at a CHSLDLong-term care centre  . These are centres for the elderly who need constant care.
  • Laboratory, diagnostic and ambulance services
  • Limited ambulance transportation costs
  • Limited midwife services

Additional coverage

  • Limited dental care
  • Limited vision care
  • Home care and long-term care
  • Services provided by specialists, including psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and physiotherapists
  • Aids to daily living, medical supplies and equipment

Prescription drug insurance

  • Prescription drugs and other products listed on provincial drug formularies. Note that having prescription drug coverage is mandatory in Québec (either with the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program , RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec or private coverage).

Coverage for the IMEImmigration medical exam

IMEImmigration medical exam and related diagnostic tests

This table is inspired by and adapted from the CERDACentre d’expertise sur le bien-être et l’état de santé physique des réfugiés et des demandeurs d’asile infographic “The IFHPInterim Federal Health Program : Important to Know,” CERDA: The IFHP: Important to Know

If you have private insurance with your job or post-secondary institution, what is covered by that insurance will not be covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program .

4. Wellness and mental health

(CERDACentre d’expertise sur le bien-être et l’état de santé physique des réfugiés et des demandeurs d’asile , 2022; Cleveland, Hanley, Salamanca Cardona, Manuel, et al., 2021; Trosseille et al., 2019)

You put your life on hold until your status is settled. You’re trying to recreate a new life here. You find yourself facing challenges you never expected. There are situations in life that are difficult, like when you’re ill, you find yourself alone, there’s no one to help you or you have no ties. So it’s very important to seek help when we need it, and to take care of our mental health whenever possible.” – Mariam

Many people arriving in Québec face major challenges. It is normal for the many difficulties associated with your migration experience (fleeing your home country, waiting and adjusting to a new one) to affect you. You may feel sad, stressed, distressed, depressed, tired, etc. You may also experience challenging things such as uncertainty, feeling like you are losing your connection to your culture of origin, loneliness, lower self-esteem, anger, etc. 

If these challenges are familiar to you, keep in mind that other people also experience these emotions and difficulties when they arrive in Québec. It is normal to react to obstacles and changes, experience challenging emotions and have negative thoughts after these events. Help is available.

For people with psychological disorders, it’s important to have access to mental health resources. The process to settle in is hard, and you have to be in a good mental state. – Bernadette

If you feel the need to receive assistance and talk to someone about it, you can make an appointment with a professional. Just like there are physical health professionals, there are also professionals who specialize in mental health and well-being (ex., psychologists, social workers, psychoeducators, therapists, psychiatrists, etc.). Community organizations and your sponsorship group can help you obtain support services. 

Community support groups are also available. You can also be accompanied to a doctor and/or CLSCLocal community service centre to get a referral or specialized care. The IFHPInterim Federal Health Program covers the first 10 one-hour psychotherapy sessions. You will then need to get a new referral from a doctor to extend this and your psychologist or psychotherapist will need to ask Medavie Blue Cross for authorization.

Some types of care may be offered in the private sector. Make sure the professional accepts IFHPInterim Federal Health Program coverage or your private coverage.

Intervention network for persons affected by organized violence (RIVOIntervention network for persons affected by organized violence

Mental health services for people covered by the IFHPInterim Federal Health Program , by referral only

Maison Multiethnique Myosotis

Greater Montréal – Multilingual – Mental health support

211

Multilingual – Information and referral service for social and community services

Suicide prevention

Available 24/7 – For crisis situations

Text: 535353

You’re not alone here. There are people who are ready to help you, even if you know little or nothing about them. Don’t hesitate to ask these people for questions and help. – Mariam

5. Health for 2SLGBTQIA+ people

(AGIR Montréal, 2023; Collectif Bienvenue, 2023h; Éducaloi, 2023j; Rainbow Response Coalition et al., 2012)

5.1 Medical resources

You can consult a CLSCLocal community service centre to receive care and services and to be referred to organizations for 2SLGBTQIATwo-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and additional sexual orientations and gender identities + people.

Finding a CLSCLocal community service centre – Government of Québec

5.2 Hormones and surgeries

You can get access to hormones and sex-/gender-affirming surgeries. However, the process is complex. 

The RAMQRégie de l’assurance maladie du Québec covers the costs of some hormones and surgeries. The IFHPInterim Federal Health Program covers the cost of some hormones, but not surgery.

If you would like more information about access to hormones and gender-affirming surgeries, contact AGIR Montréal.

AGIR Montréal

Multilingual – Support for LGBTQIA+ migrants

To-do list


Health Care
Health care
  • See the Health Care section of the Carnets de route website to find out how health care services work in Québec and what services to consult depending on your needs

  • Report a change of address or email as soon as possible: see the Read This Information First section

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