In 1985, Québec established a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, that is, forgoing the need to determine liability or fault on the part of stakeholders. The program was renewed under the Public Health Act adopted in December 2001.
The goal of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is to enable any victim of bodily injury caused by a vaccination to be compensated by the Minister of Health and Social Services. To receive compensation, the vaccine or immunoglobulins must have been administered in Québec on a voluntary, compulsory or imposed basis to prevent one of the following diseases or infections:
- 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 Program covers all the vaccines included in the Québec Immunization Program.
Who can file a compensation claim
Any person who has sustained a serious permanent injury associated with the administration of a vaccine or immunoglobulins against any one of the above-mentioned diseases or infections may claim compensation as the victim of a vaccination.
The victim can be the vaccinated person, the person having contracted the disease from a vaccinated person, or the fetus of either of such persons; or, if death occurs, the person who is entitled to a death benefit.
Moreover, although the victim can institute civil proceedings against any person liable for the bodily injury, they cannot receive double indemnity. In such case, the victim must reimburse the amounts the Minister has previously paid or committed to paying.
A claim is admissible if it complies with the following three criteria:
- a permanent injury; AND
- a serious injury; AND
- a likely causal relationship between the vaccine and the injury.
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.
Where an injury becomes apparent gradually, the three-year time limit starts from the day the injury first becomes apparent or the day when a likely relationship with the vaccine is established.
The claimant’s medical situation must be stable before an assessment can be performed to determine whether there is a permanent injury. This may take from several months to several years.
A claimant must:
- print the forms for the Vaccination Injury Compensation Program and fill them out, providing all the required information;
- submit proof of vaccination (electronic proof, photocopy of the vaccination booklet, or a certificate issued by a health professional), which includes all the following information: name of the vaccinated person, brand name of the vaccine, date of administration, place of administration.
- send them to the following address:
Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux
Direction de la protection de la santé publique
Programme d'indemnisation des victimes d'une vaccination
1075, chemin Sainte-Foy, 12e étage
Québec (Québec) G1S 2M1
The forms can also be obtained by writing to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux at the above address.
Preparing the case file
The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) is responsible for the administrative and organizational management of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This agency collects the relevant medical records, with the claimant’s permission.
The Minister remains responsible for the Program.
Examining the claim
All compensation claims are examined by a medical review committee composed of a physician appointed by the Minister, another appointed by the claimant, and a third appointed by the first two physicians. The third physician chairs the committee and is responsible for writing the assessment report.
When there is serious permanent harm, the medical review committee makes recommendations to the Minister on whether there is a likely causal relationship between the victim’s injury and the vaccine. When the likely causal relationship is established, the committee must also assess the percentage (severity) of physical or mental impairment according to the scale of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
The Minister provides a decision in writing after studying the committee’s recommendations, if there is no consensus among the committee members, different recommendations will be submitted, taking into account the opinion of each committee member.
The decision to compensate a victim is made without taking into account the responsibility or possible fault of the various stakeholders (i.e., institution, health professional, manufacturer, distributor, or product quality controller).
Calculating and paying compensation
The SAAQ calculates and pays the compensation to claimants who obtain a favourable decision. Amounts are calculated according to the rules and provisions set out in the Automobile Insurance Act. Costs incurred may also be reimbursed.
The amounts awarded under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program come from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Following the SAAQ’s calculation, the following benefits and reimbursements may be awarded:
- Income replacement
- Bodily injury
- Personal assistance expenses
- Death benefits, including funeral expenses
- Reimbursement of expenses resulting from the incident, including medical expenses
Compensation is indexed to the cost of living every year to take into account cost-of-living increases.
Moreover, claimants must keep all supporting documents required to reimburse their expenses in the event that their claim is approved. In such case, the SAAQ will ask the claimant to provide the information and supporting documents required under the Automobile Insurance Act, including:
- Hospitalization period, where applicable, that is, admission and discharge dates
- Name of the bedside family caregiver
- Surgery date, where applicable
- Period in the rehabilitation centre (admission and discharge dates for each stay, outpatient treatment)
- Receipts for treatment costs associated with the admissible 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 admissible medical condition
Compensation and reimbursements for the expenses incurred are payable following a favourable decision by the Minister and the calculation performed by the SAAQ.
Claimants can exercise their right of appeal to the Tribunal administratif du Québec regarding a decision made by the Minister to deny the claim for compensation or regarding the amount of compensation awarded. The time limit for any appeal is 60 days from the date of notification of the decision.
The Tribunal administratif du Québec has an office in Québec City and another in Montréal. The Tribunal can be reached at:
Tribunal administratif du Québec
575, rue Saint-Amable
Québec (Québec) G1R 5R4
Tribunal administratif du Québec
500, boul. René Lévesque Ouest, 21e étage
Montréal (Québec) H2Z 1W7
History of the Program
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 relationship 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.
|Number of claims submitted since 1988||410|
|Number of claims under review||21|
|Number of claims assessed by a medical committee|
(only claims meeting the admissibility criteria were examined by a medical committee)
|Number of claims accepted||56|
|Total cost the program||$9,397 M|
|Total number of cases in which appeals were lodged with the Tribunal administratif du Québec (TAQ)*||92|
|Number of rejected appeals||41|
|Total accepted appeals – causal relationship||2|
|Total accepted appeals – disputed compensation amounts||5|
|Total accepted appeals – disputed admissibility||2|
|TAQ cases under review||8|
* Some cases can lead to more than one TAQ claim.
|Year||Number of completed claims submitted||Number of claims examined by a committee*||Number of claims compensated|
* Only claims meeting the admissibility criteria were examined by a medical review 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.
*** Since December 14, 2020, more than 7.5 million Quebecers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which could explain the increase in claims observed since 2021.
† Some claims are under review.
Medical review committee
The Minister pays the cost of services rendered by the medical review committee. It will also pay for the people associated with or consulted by this committee.
Cost of an appeal to the Tribunal administratif
The parties involved must cover the cost of the proceedings before the Tribunal administratif. The Minister pays for its defence and the claimant pays for their appeal. There is no charge for the services provided by the Tribunal administratif.
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 .
Last update: May 31, 2023