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Canada 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Quebec City

Western Hemisphere > Canada; Western Hemisphere > Canada > Quebec

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate General Quebec City does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED QUEBEC CITY AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Canada-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

The crime level in Quebec City has a minimal impact on the work and life of the official Americans assigned to the Consulate General. There is no evidence that Americans are being targeted directly for criminal activity.

Crime trends tend to gravitate toward vehicles and other personal property. U.S.-plated cars are targeted by thieves likely looking for normal tourist valuables. U.S. passports and other identity documents that have been left inside vehicles are often taken.

There was one murder reported in Quebec City in 2016.

Random violence is an unusual and is often associated with street gang activity and other forms of organized crime. Canada took measures to ensure public safety related to gangs. Bill C-394 made gang recruitment a federal crime, and conviction results in a minimum sentence of six months in prison with a maximum sentence of five years.

Cybersecurity Issues

Travelers should practice careful Internet usage and guard all financial transactions, particularly when using an unsecure Internet connection.

In December 8, 2016, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) released information pertaining to how Canada is responding to criminal cyber threats, to include new policies related to search warrants, implemented toward curbing activity and mitigating online threat. According to A. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, Canada is observing a very sophisticated and rapid growth in global cyber threat. AAG Caldwell explains that the Department of Justice and criminal divisions face various inefficiencies keeping up with changes in technology and the dramatic increase of Warren-proof encryption. Within the past two years, CSIS has enhanced international cooperation with law enforcement partners worldwide as an initiative to establish cross border access to data and better identify and prosecute politically- or financially-motivated independent global cyber actors.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Quebec City is a tourist-friendly city, and movement throughout the city and province is unrestricted. Travelers should not experience any security-related issues driving around the city or province. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Visitors driving in the winter months need to be prepared for driving conditions in a northern climate. Extra caution is needed while driving in Quebec City during the winter weather. Even in good weather, the black ice phenomenon can occur as can sudden blizzards. The city does an excellent job clearing streets after snowstorms, but drivers can expect 12-hour parking restrictions when plowing will be conducted.

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transportation -- trains, local buses, ferries, taxi, shuttle services -- is considered safe and is used regularly by locals and tourists alike. 24-hour taxi service is always available through a hotel concierge or by calling directly and is a safe way to travel. Travelers should be prepared to pay cash, as credit card scams by taxi drivers have been reported in local media outlets.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Quebec City is served by Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) and is 11 miles (18 kilometers) from the city center. A drive between the two locations takes about 30 minutes. Taxis from the airport to downtown are set at a fixed rate, but taxis to the airport (and other locations) are metered. The airport is relatively small yet very efficient by U.S. standards. The airport adheres to international air safety standards and management of flight operations. Security measures are on par with U.S. airports, and security personnel are well-trained and effective in the performance of their duties.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED QUEBEC CITY AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There are no known specific terrorist threats directed against official or private U.S. interests in the province of Quebec; however, many groups exist in Canada that have ties to or are sympathetic with various well-known international terrorist organizations.

  • In October 2014, there were two ISIS-inspired, lone wolf terrorist attacks in Canada. The first was an attack in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, (outside Quebec City) where a local, radicalized Quebec man drove over two Canadian soldiers with an automobile, killing one and severely injuring the other.
  • The second attack took place in Ottawa by another locally radicalized individual who shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the Canadian War Memorial on Parliament Hill.

The Canadian government raised its own terror threat level to “medium” after these attacks. The call for self-radicalization, whether disseminated on extremist forums or via a broader approach on social media, continues to be a global concern. It is difficult to determine which message will inspire a violent extremist.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED QUEBEC CITY AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Demonstrations are mostly peaceful and occur on almost a daily basis during the spring. In the winter, protests are fairly infrequent due to the cold. Demonstrations are usually led by workers’ unions, specific ethnic groups, or student associations. Within the last five years, there have been no violent demonstrations targeting Americans. Typically, the Quebec City Police Service will provide uniformed officers to facilitate the movement of traffic and intervene should the protest become out of hand.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Severe winter weather can represent a hazard in Quebec City. Quebec City's Consular District has experienced winter ice storms and blizzards, followed by flooding in spring. Temperatures in late January can fall well below zero degrees Fahrenheit with strong winds. Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service provides updates about potentially hazardous weather.

There have been a few mild earth tremors over the years that have caused road erosion but no large scale damage to infrastructure or human life.

Critical Infrastructure

Public Safety Canada identifies 10 sectors of critical infrastructure (Health, Food, Finance, Water, Information and Communication Technology, Safety, Energy and Utilities, Manufacturing, Government, and Transportation). Canada’s critical infrastructure is massive, geographically dispersed, and owned by many players mostly within the private sector. Public Safety works with its partners to manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities across these sectors. The National Strategy supports the principle that critical infrastructure roles/activities should be carried out in a responsible manner at all levels. Responsibilities for critical infrastructure are shared by federal, provincial, and territorial governments and critical infrastructure owners/operators. Individual Canadians also have a responsibility to be prepared for disruption and ready to cope for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency. Canada and the U.S. share cross border critical infrastructure with movement of people/goods between Canada and the U.S.

Economic Concerns

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other Canadian law enforcement agencies are committed to undertaking coordinated action to counter the threats posed by intellectual property crime. According to the RCMP, “Twenty years ago, most members of the public, as well as most police officers, had never heard of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Crime in Canada. Today, the situation is dramatically different both domestically and internationally. Organized crime has discovered that the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit goods are easy ways of generating huge profits rivalling those in the drug trade but with very little risk of getting caught. Even if apprehended and convicted, there is only a slight chance of incarceration.” In addition to the tremendous losses to government tax revenues and the legitimate Canadian economy, recent seizures of counterfeit goods (pharmaceuticals, electrical products, brake parts, contaminated shampoo/food products) show that counterfeiters care nothing about the health and safety of Canadian consumers. Intellectual property is an important part of the Canadian economy and, as the country shifts toward an information-based economy, intellectual property rights are increasingly more important. As such, the priority of criminal intellectual property investigations has increased especially when dealing with counterfeit products that represent a health and safety concern to the consumer.

Privacy Concerns

There is a relatively low risk to privacy concerns in Canada. The Privacy Commissioner handles several complaints each year about violations of privacy rights. According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “Canada has two federal privacy laws, the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Privacy Act took effect on July 1, 1983. This act imposes obligations on some 250 federal government departments and agencies to respect privacy rights by limiting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The Privacy Act gives individuals the right to access and request correction of personal information about themselves held by these federal government organizations. Individuals are also protected by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) that sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities. The law gives individuals the right to access and request correction of the personal information these organizations may have collected about them. Initially, PIPEDA applied only to personal information about customers or employees that was collected, used or disclosed in the course of commercial activities by the federally regulated private sector, organizations such as banks, airlines, and telecommunications companies. The Act now applies to personal information collected, used or disclosed by the retail sector, publishing companies, the service industry, manufacturers and other provincially regulated organizations. The Act does not apply to the personal information of employees of these provincially regulated organizations. The federal government may exempt organizations or activities in provinces that have their own privacy laws, if they are substantially similar to the federal law. PIPEDA will continue to apply in those provinces to the federally regulated private sector and to personal information in inter-provincial and international transactions by all organizations engaged in commercial activities. Oversight of both federal Acts rests with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada who is authorized to receive and investigate complaints.”

Personal Identity Concerns

The Canadian Constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. When there are reports of societal discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practices, prominent societal leaders often take positive steps to promote religious freedom and condemn intolerance.

Drug-related Crimes

In 2015, Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP conducted several raids connected to drug trafficking in Quebec. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in violence and murder related to drugs. In Quebec, many of the drug-territory incidents and deaths have involved use of bombs by biker gangs. Hell's Angels and the Rock Machine traditionally were in control of the lucrative illegal drug trade in Quebec.

Sentences for drug-related crimes are shorter and less harsh than in the U.S., Australia, and other Western nations. Minimum sentencing requirements for trafficking 3 kg (6.6 lbs.) or more of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin carries a one year mandatory minimum sentence.

Kidnapping Threat

International parental child abductions between Canada and the U.S. do occur. Procedures for coordinating with courts, establishing jurisdiction, and other issues associated with handling these cases are prescribed under the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the "Hague Convention"), of which Canada is a signatory.

In 2012, the RCMP created a new unit: The National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains. The unit maintains a national database for finding missing people and identifying human remains to link investigators across the country when their cases match. The database will provide support to police, coroners, and medical examiners and let them compare their findings to cases from across the country.

Police Response

Police can be relied upon to respond to the scene of crimes in a timely manner. Police agencies and emergency medical services in the Quebec City area have the same capabilities as U.S. emergency services. The Service de Police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ) is very proactive and responsive when dealing with all types of criminal activity. The SPVQ patrols the city and is the primary first responder in the case of an emergency. Sûreté du Québec is proactive in addressing criminal activity. The capabilities of both city and federal law enforcement agencies are on par with their U.S. counterparts. Routine and emergency requests for police assistance from the RSO have been met with an excellent response by the SPVQ and RCMP. 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Reports of police detention of U.S. citizens can be directed to the American Citizen Services office of the U.S. Consulate General in Quebec City at 418-692-2095. After-hours calls to this number will be forwarded to the Consulate duty officer.

Crime Victim Assistance

Anyone in need of police support or emergency services should dial 911. 

Police/Security Agencies

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the national police service and an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety Canada. The RCMP is unique; it is a national, federal, provincial, and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities, and three international airports. RCMP also has responsibility for protecting diplomatic facilities.

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) is the provincial police force. SQ employs roughly 5,200 officers. SQ is second largest provincial force (behind Ontario Provincial Police) and fourth largest force in Canada. The primary function of the SQ is to enforce provincial laws, some municipal bylaws, the Criminal Code, other laws throughout Quebec, and to assist municipal police forces when needed. Members of the force can also act as forest conservation agents. The SQ is responsible for providing municipal police services to municipalities in the province that do not have municipal or regional police services. The force also patrols provincial highways. The SQ can investigate any incident that involves wrongdoing by a municipal police force or a case where a police intervention caused death.

The Service de Police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ) has jurisdiction in the city of Quebec. The SPVQ is typically the primary first law enforcement responder in the case of any emergency. The SPVQ responds to emergency 911 calls.

Medical Emergencies

Emergency medical care is reliable and on par with any major U.S. hospital. Individuals can walk into emergency rooms or, if needed, dial 911 for ambulance service. 

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval, Tel: 418-525-4444

Centre Hospitalier Jeffrey Hale, Tel: 418-684-5333

Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Tel: 418-525-4444

Available Air Ambulance Services

Air Medic

Emergency: 1-877-999-3322

450-766-0770

Info@airmedic.net

Insurance Guidance

For information on auto insurance in Quebec, please visit the Société de l’assurance automobile at http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Canada.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Quebec City. Please contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Quebec City or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

Consulate General - Quebec City
2, rue de la Terrasse-Dufferin
Quebec City, Quebec  G1R 4T9

Days/Hours of Operation: 0900-1630, Mon-Fri

Consulate Contact Numbers

Switchboard: 418-692-2095

Post 1: 418-692-4023

Website: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/quebec/

Nearby Posts

Embassy Ottawa: https://ca.usembassy.gov/

Consulate Calgary: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/calgary/

Consulate Halifax: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/halifax/

Consulate Montreal: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/montreal/

Consulate Toronto: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/toronto/

Consulate Vancouver: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/vancouver/

Consulate Winnipeg: https://ca.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/winnipeg/

Additional Resources

Canada Country Information Sheet