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Canada Travel Basics

1. Accessibility for people with disabilities
2. Canadian Currency
3. Electricity
4. Emergency and Medical Services
5. GST Rebates
6. Language
7. Basic words and phrases
8. Liquor Laws
9. Time Zones
10. Tipping
11. Transportation
12. Weather
13. Weights and Measures
14. Driver's License

Accessibility for people with disabilities
Accessibility for people with restricted physical ability

Establishments have been assessed accessible according to criteria set by Kéroul and approved by Tourisme Québec. For people with restricted physical ability, Kéroul provides information on tourism and culture.

Kéroul 4545 Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue
P. O. Box 1000, Station M
Montréal, Québec H1V 3R2
Tel.: (514) 252-3104
Fax: (514) 254-0766

General Manager: André Leclerc

Total Access: The handicapped person can enter and move around the establishment without assistance.

Partial Access: The handicapped person requires assistance to enter and move around the establishment.

Canadian Currency
Canadian currency is the dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. There are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1000 dollar bills. One and two dollar bills have been replaced by coins, sometimes referred to as "Loonies" (the bird on the $1 is a loon) and "Twonies" ($2). Smaller coins are 1, 5, 10, and 25 cent pieces.

It's easy to exchange foreign currency in Montréal. You can cash traveller's cheques at banks and exchange offices (Bureau de change in French) which are common in the areas you'll be visiting. Banking and credit cards are also welcome almost everywhere so you can withdraw with your bank card, use major credit cards, or even pay directly at stores, restaurants, etc. with "Interact" service - just look for the yellow sign. Many businesses will also accept US dollars and traveller's cheques, but it's always a good idea to carry Canadian money with you.

Electrical outlets in Canada provide the same current as in the United States - 110 volts (60 cycles). If you are traveling from Europe or elsewhere, you will need an adapter to use your small appliances, if they are designed for a different standard.

Emergency and Medical Services
In case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1 to reach operators connected to the fire station, police station, and ambulances. If an accident or sudden illness should occur, there are eight major hospitals in or near the Montréal downtown area, some of them affiliated with leading Montréal universities. For less serious illness, you can see a doctor at a community health centre called a CLSC. These are smaller clinics, and there is one in every neighbourhood. It is always wise to buy medical travel insurance in advance.

In case of emergency: 9-1-1
Québec Poison Control Centre: 1 800 463-5060

GST Rebates
Not only do your meeting dollars stretch farther here, but Canada offers one of the world's most generous tax rebate programs for non-resident visitors. A general sales tax, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), applies to most purchases. However, it is refundable (along with the provincial sales tax in some provinces) on almost all convention-related expenses, including a 50% rebate on food and beverage charges. Your delegates can also recoup taxes paid on their purchases.

See Canada Customs for details.

English is spoken everywhere in Montréal, but if you would like to learn a few words in French please click this link.

Liquor Laws
Bars and restaurants serve alcohol from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., with the exception of beer halls (brasseries) which serve liquor from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. You can pick up beer and wine at convenience (dépanneurs) and grocery stores until 11 p.m., but for hard liquor and a greater selection of wine, stop by a Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ). These stores, with the square burgundy logo, are open weekdays and Saturdays, with some outlets open on Sundays. Most SAQ's are closed on holidays. The legal drinking age in Québec is 18 years old.

Time Zones
Montréal will be on Eastern Daylight Time (summer time zone) at the time of the conference. The time difference between Montréal time and Greenwich Mean Time is 4 hours during Eastern Daylight Time.

Service is not included in restaurants, so it is customary to add a 15% tip to the total. (A quick way to calculate the appropriate tip amount is to add up the two taxes - they appear at the bottom of your bill. It works out to roughly 15%). If you're with a group, 15% for service may be automatically added to your bill. Just ask when you're not sure if tip is included.

Taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc. are also normally tipped 15%. Bellhops, porters, doormen, etc. generally receive at least $1 per suitcase or per service rendered. Coffee and food counters often have a tip cup next to the cash register; spare change is always appreciated.

Getting to Montréal is easy - by train or plane, riding or driving. You'll also find it easy to get around once you're in the city. The vast majority of accommodations and attractions are within walking distance of the downtown core, or minutes away using public and private transport.

Like much of the North-East, the weather in Montréal varies greatly with the four seasons, so visitors are encouraged to check the forecast before packing. During the later part of April, Montrealers find themselves enjoying the re-birth of spring with daytime temperatures in the 50's (avg. 10.7ºC / 51ºF) and late evening getting into the 30's (avg. 1.3ºC / 34ºF). To help you plan your visit, we are pleased to provide you with web site links that provide basic weather information. Source: Environment Canada

The Meteorological Service of Canada
Tel.: (514) 283-3010
Tel.: 1 900 565-4000 ($0.95/minute)

The Weather Network

Weights and Measures
Although years ago, Canada used the imperial system of weights and measures it now uses the metric system. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius, gasoline is sold by the litre, beverages are sold by litres or millilitres, and other grocery items are marked in grams and kilograms. Short distances are given in centimetres or metres, while on the road, you'll see longer distances and speeds since they appear in kilometres. Below are some conversion equivalents.

Metric to imperial
» 0ºC 32ºF
» 25ºC 77ºF
» 1 metre 3.3 feet
» 1 km 0.62 mile
» 100 km/h 62 mph
» 1 kg 2.2 lb
» 1 litre 0.22 Cdn. gal

Imperial to Metric
» 1 foot 0.30 metre
» 1 mile 1.61 km
» 50 mph 80 km/h
» 1 lb 0.454 kg
» 1 Cdn. gal. 4.55 litres

Driver's License
As a visitor to Québec, you may drive a car for a maximum of six consecutive months without having a Québec driver's license. Nevertheless, you must possess a valid driver's license-in the class corresponding to the category of vehicle you will be driving in Québec, issued by a government which accords the same right to Québec drivers-and you should respect the conditions on which that license was granted (exceptions may apply: students, work-related driving, diplomats, etc.). When you are driving a vehicle licensed in Québec, you are covered for liability to the same extent that Québec drivers are if you have an accident in Québec.

Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (Québec auto insurance)
Tel.: (514) 873-7620/1 800 361-7620