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Canada has a state-run health system, and Québec hospitals are modern and decently equipped, with well-trained staffs. You are unlikely to get sick from Canada's food or water.

In general, Canadians who reside outside the province of Québec are covered by an interprovincial agreement, which allows them to present their own province's health card (e.g., OHIP card in Ontario) and have their health services covered by direct billing. In some cases, however, services must be paid for upfront and patients must seek reimbursement from their home province.

Medical treatment in Canada isn't free for foreigners, and doctors and hospitals will make you pay at the time of service.

Familiar over-the-counter medicines are widely available in Canada. If there is a possibility that you will run out of prescribed medicines during your visit, take along a prescription from your doctor. Have the generic name of prescription medicines in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name. Pack medications in your carry-on luggage and have them in their original containers with pharmacy labels -- otherwise, they may not make it through airport security. If you're entering Canada with syringes used for medical reasons, bring a medical certificate that shows they are for medical use and be sure to declare them to Canadian Customs officials.

If you suffer from a chronic illness, consult your doctor before departure.

Safety

Montréal and Québec City are extremely safe cities, and far safer than their U.S. or European counterparts of similar size. Montréal in 2008, for instance, had 29 homicides for the entire year, the lowest number since police began collecting statistics. Street gang wars, which plague many cities, are nearly nonexistent here.

Still, common sense insists that visitors stay alert and observe the usual urban precautions. It's best to stay out of parks at night and to take a taxi when returning from a late dinner or nightclub.

Québec is one of Canada's more liberal provinces. Mass demonstrations are rare and political violence is unusual. Tolerance of others is a Canadian characteristic, and it's highly unlikely that visitors of ethnic, religious, or racial minorities will encounter even mild forms of discrimination. That applies to sexual orientation, as well, especially in Montréal, which has one of the largest and most visible gay communities in North America.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.