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Additional information

Emergency

In case of any emergency (fire, accident, crime), call 911 to contact help. Almost all areas of Canada are covered by this emergency help line. All phone calls to 911 are free, including calls made by pay phone or cell phone. Please note that calls must be of an urgent nature

Medical services

People who aren’t Canadian residents are not covered by government health insurance plans. That means visitors could end up facing significant out-of-pocket expenses if an illness or accident occurs while they’re here. We advise to check that you are covered by appropriate health insurance before travelling to Canada.

Language

Although Canada is officially bilingual, each province has its own official provincial language. Québec is officially a French-speaking province and the majority of the population lives its daily life in French; however don’t be intimidated if you don’t speak French yourself!

Millions of people visit Québec every year and most of them don’t speak French. Non-French-speaking visitors can easily get by in large cities like Québec City (“Québec” is the official name) and Montréal, and also other popular tourist spots. However, if you do get off the beaten track, you may encounter people who speak only French, so a phrase book is a good idea!

Money

Our currency is the Canadian dollar (CAD). Canadian bills or bank notes are now made of polymer and are commonly available in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 dollar denominations. Canadian coins include the $2 Toonie, $1 Loonie, 25¢ quarter, 10¢ dime, 5¢ nickel and 1¢ penny although production of the penny has been stopped (these nicknames are not used in French but should be recognized by most cashiers). Since 2014, cash purchase totals have been rounded off to the nearest nickel to take pennies out of circulation. Thus, don’t be surprised if you pay a bit more or less than expected!

Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted across Canada. ATMs are easy to find in urban areas (including on campus), so it’s not really necessary to bring loads of cash. Visa’s payWave and similar services usually work. Still, having some cash on hand when you arrive is a good idea for tipping or small purchases. Debit and credit cards issued by other countries can be used for purchases or to withdraw Canadian money in Canada, but currency exchange rates will vary by card. ATMs will charge between $2 and $5 as a user fee. Foreign currencies are easily changed into CAD at the airport – we advise to do it there or back home as it is more complicated once in the city.

The sales tax in the province of Québec is ~15% and is usually not included in the displayed price. Tipping is a social convention at the restaurant and for taxi rides – not doing it is seen as impolite, even if the service is mediocre. A 15% tip (before tax) is most common – 10% or less signifies disappointment and 20% and over is seen as generous. For the lazy, the trick is to equal the taxes displayed on the bill!

Electricity

We use exactly the same supplies (110 V, 60 Hz) and sockets (types A and B) as in the U.S. For most devices, you might only need an adapter, which does not convert electricity, to match to our socket type. For some devices, you might need a transformer.

Photocopy and printing

If you have an urgent need to print something (a poster, for example), there is a service called “Reprographie Laval” on campus. We also often deal with a private business called Graphica. Both websites are in French only.

Climate

Québec can get pretty cold and snowy, but the month of May usually marks the beginning of the summer weather, with an average of 11°C and many sunny days. We suggest bringing a light jacket and raincoat, but please don’t purchase a winter coat for the occasion!