In 1985, Québec established a no-fault vaccine injury compensation program. The program was renewed under the Public Health Act adopted in December 2001.
At the end of the 1970s, the parents of a young girl who developed viral encephalitis a few days after being vaccinated for measles brought an action for damages against the Gouvernement du Québec.
The Superior Court of Québec concluded that, on the one hand, there was evidence of a causal link between the vaccine, encephalitis and subsequent disability and, on the other hand, absence of any fault. The Court decided against the Government on the basis of a no fault liability resulting from necessity. Indeed, it was considered that the moral suasion exercised on the public to be vaccinated was the equivalent of a compulsory program and that damages suffered by an individual for the benefit of the community must be borne by the latter.
The Québec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada also indicated that no one had committed any fault but that the moral suasion exercised on the public did not make vaccination compulsory, and in such a case there could be no liability without proven fault. It was recognized, however, that the situation was unjust for this young girl and that there was no legislation requiring that compensation be paid in such circumstances.
The Supreme Court decided to award compensation independent of any fault in April 1985. During that year, the Gouvernement du Québec introduced the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was included in a new division of the Public Health Protection Act. The regulation specific to this program was adopted in November 1987 and the first claims for compensation were filed the following year.
Program Statistics since its Introduction
|Number of claims submitted since 1988||287|
|Number of claims that were not pursued||44|
|Number of claims pending evaluation||9|
|Number of evaluation committees to have rendered a decision|
(only claims meeting the admissibility criteria were evaluated by a medical committee)
|Number of claims accepted||53|
|Total number of appeals lodged with the Tribunal administratif du Québec (TAQ)||83|
|Total amount of compensation paid||$6,792 M|
|Total number of cases in which appeals were lodged with the TAQ||83|
|Number of rejected appeals||41|
|Total accepted appeals – causal relationship||2|
|Total accepted appeals – disputed compensation amounts||4|
|Total accepted appeals – disputed eligibility||1|
|Year||Number of completed claims submitted||Number of claims evaluated by a committee*||Number of claims compensated|
* Only claims meeting the admissibility criteria were evaluated by a medical committee.
** During the 2009–2010 period, 5.7 million Quebecers received the influenza A(H1N1) vaccine, which could explain the increase in claims observed in the three years following the vaccination period.
† Some claims are pending evaluation.
‡ This number includes an out-of-court settlement case.
The current legal framework is the 2001 Public Health Act, chapter VII, division III, sections 70 to 78, as well as the regulation under the Public Health Act in effect since August 2003, division II, sections 4 to 28.
Definitions of the words “victim” and “bodily injury”
The “victim” is a person who suffers bodily injury after being vaccinated against a disease or infection listed in the regulation.
A victim can also be a person who contracts the disease from a vaccinated person, the fetus of either of such persons or, if a death occurs, the person who is entitled to a death benefit from the date of death.
“Bodily injury” consists in any serious permanent physical or mental injury, or death. It meets the criteria for reporting an adverse event following vaccination, as set out in Section 69 of Québec’s Public Health Act. An Adverse Events Following Vaccination report must be completed by a healthcare professional qualified to diagnose or assess the person’s health status and sent to the regional director of public health.
The principle is that Québec’s Minister of Health and Social Services must compensate any victim of bodily injury caused by a voluntary vaccination by inoculation with a vaccine or immunoglobulins against a disease or infection identified in the regulation, or a compulsory or imposed vaccination. Vaccination must have taken place in Québec. The diseases or infections involved are the following:
- Coronavirus infections (ex: COVID-19)
- European tick-borne encephalitis
- Haemophilus influenzae Type b infections
- HPV infections
- Japanese encephalitis
- Lyme disease
- Meningococcal infections
- Pneumococcal infections
- Respiratory syncytial virus
- Rotavirus infections
- Travellers' diarrhea
- Viral hepatitis A
- Viral hepatitis B
- Yellow fever
The decision to compensate a victim must be made without taking into account the responsibility or possible fault of the various stakeholders, that is, an institution, health professional, manufacturer, distributor or product quality controller.
Moreover, although the victim can undertake civil action against any person responsible for bodily injury, they cannot receive double indemnity; if the victim receives double compensation, the victim must reimburse the Minister for the amounts the Minister has previously paid or committed to paying.
Filing a compensation claim
A claimant must print the forms for the Vaccination Injury Compensation Program ; fill them out, providing all requested information; and send them to the following address:
Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux
Direction de la protection de la santé publique
1075, chemin Sainte-Foy, 12e étage
The forms can also be obtained by calling 1‑855‑881‑9869 or by writing the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux at the above address.
Time limits for filing a compensation claim
Compensation claims must be filed within three years after the vaccination date, or after the date of death in the case of a claim for death benefits.
However, when an injury becomes apparent gradually, the time limit runs from the day the injury first becomes apparent.
Evaluating compensation claims
On July 4, 2011, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux signed an agreement with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) governing the administrative and organizational management of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
The Minister remains responsible for the program as provided for under the Public Health Act.
Putting together the case file
Under a mandate received from Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, Institut national de santé publique du Québec collects the relevant medical files, with the claimant’s permission.
Examining compensation claims and decision
The regulation states that any claim for compensation will be studied by an evaluation committee consisting of a physician appointed by the Minister, another appointed by the claimant, and a third appointed by the first 2 physicians. The third physician will chair the committee, whose members may examine the victim.
The committee’s functions are to make rational recommendations to the Minister on whether there is a causal link between the injury sustained by the victim and the vaccination. The committee must also assess, if required, the percentage of permanent impairment of the victim's physical or mental integrity as well as other required aspects related to compensation from Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec.
The Minister provides a decision in writing after studying the majority recommendations of the committee and any dissenting opinions.
The Minister also rules on decisions that do not involve medical reasons, as is the case for the eligibility or inadmissibility of a claim for compensation.
Appealing the Minister’s decision
The claimant can exercise their right of appeal to the Administrative Tribunal of Québec regarding a decision made by the Minister to deny the claim for compensation or regarding the amount of compensation awarded. The time limit is strict: 60 days from the date of notification of the decision.
The Administrative Tribunal of Québec has an office in Québec City and another in Montréal. The Tribunal can be reached at:
Tribunal administratif du Québec
500, boul René Lévesque ouest, 21e étage
Montréal (Québec) H2Z 1W7
The Minister covers the costs of the services rendered by the members of the Evaluation Committee. The Minister also assumed the cost of adding members to the Medical Committee and for expert physicians consulted by the Committee.
Cost of an appeal to the Administrative Tribunal
The parties involved must cover the cost of the proceedings before the Administrative Tribunal. The Minister pays for its defense and the claimant pays for its appeal. There is no charge for the services provided by the Administrative Tribunal.
Calculating and paying compensation
The Minister has entered into an agreement with Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) whereby SAAQ calculates and pays the compensation to claimants who obtain a favourable decision. Amounts are calculated according to the rules and regulations set out in the Automobile Insurance Act and are identical to those awarded for car accidents.
The sums awarded under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program come from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Main types of compensation provided
- Income replacement
- Bodily injury
- Personal assistance expenses
- Death benefits including funeral expenses
- Reimbursement of expenses resulting from the incident, including medical expenses
The rules in the Automobile Insurance Act and its regulations govern how to calculate the compensation awarded following a favourable decision by the Minister.
They cover physical, social and occupational aspects.
Compensation is indexed to the cost of living every year to protect beneficiaries against cost-of-living increases.
If the claim is approved, the claimant must provide, upon the request of Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, the information and supporting documents required to comply with the Automobile Insurance Act, including:
- Hospitalization period, where applicable, or admission and release dates
- Name of bedside support person
- Surgery date, where applicable
- Period in rehabilitation center (admission and release dates for each stay, outpatient treatment)
- Receipts for treatment costs associated with the eligible medical condition
- Taxi and parking receipts
- Meal expenses
- Medication receipts
- Home care receipts
- Medical supply expenses
- Any other documents that are deemed relevant to the eligible medical condition
The claimant must keep all supporting documents needed to reimburse their expenses in the event that the claim is accepted .
Last update: January 27, 2022