Getting access to a doctor in Québec
Info-Santé - 811
Do you actually need a doctor? 811 is a great service that allows Quebecers to speak with a nurse over the phone, free of charge, 24/7. A great option for simple advise or to figure out if you should actually go to Emergency versus your family doctor. Obviously, in case of an urgent emergency you would always call 911 instead. More information here.
Getting a family doctor in Québec
It will take a very, very long time so if you don’t have one I would recommend starting the process ASAP. You can sign up for the wait-list here. It will tell you something along the lines of you will be waiting 288 days. It will be longer.
English speakers will tend to have a particularly challenging time. Not to worry, though, you literally have enough time to become bilingual before getting a family doctor.
One trick is to ask if anyone is accepting patients whenever you are at a walk-in clinic. If your partner has a family doctor they may take you on as well.
CLSC (Centre local de Services communautaires)
These are free community health centres spread out across the province. They are totally free, but usually operate on a walk in-basis. You will have to find out when their walk-in hours are and then go quite early during that period (otherwise you may not get a spot). Also, the wait-times tend to be quite long. If you have lots of time or are short on cash, it’s an option. Otherwise, you may want to use the Bonjour-Santé option listed below. To find more information on CLSC locations, hours and services you can access their website here. I’ve had good luck with getting bilingual doctors in Montréal, but you may want to call and ask about the staff that day (especially if you’re not downtown or in one of the more anglophone neighbourhoods).
If you have a RAMQ card but don’t have a family doctor, this is a great way of accessing a public doctor in a short period of time. For $17.25 you can search your area for an appointment and usually get something for the same or next day. Opposed to going to a walk-in clinic or hospital, having an appointment usually means you’ll spend a lot less time in the waiting room. You can search and book here.
Accessing a private doctor
There are quite a few private medical clinics which can usually give you a same-day consultation with an appointment. If you have expatriate insurance or a very good health-plan, you may have coverage. Either way, you should probably be expecting to pay $100-$150 for a routine appointment (many times you are paying a fee for them to ‘open a file’ if it’s your first time and they may also charge your additionally for any procedures). The helpful part is that they can give you requisitions for either public or private services (imagine, lab-work, etc.). That said, you won’t get your publicly-funded MRI faster just because a private doctor ordered it.
Boutique MD is the private medical clinic that operates out of the same facility as myself.