More than 2,000 patients were billed for their first medical care at a downtown Quebec hospital over the weekend, with some patients paying more than $1,500 per visit.
In total, at least 6,000 Canadians were treated at the Saint-Maurice hospital and more than 10,000 others were seen on Friday and Saturday, according to a news release from the provincial government.
The Quebec government says the number of patients who have been billed for medical care is higher than usual due to a surge in demand in the city, which has seen a record number of babies born after the provincial election last month.
The province said it has been able to limit the number and the size of bills because of a number of factors, including a surge of patients coming to the hospital for pre-natal care, a shortage of primary care physicians, and a lack of capacity in maternity units.
There have also been a number outages and delays to patients being admitted to hospitals.
In a separate release, the Quebec health ministry said it is looking at ways to increase the number, size and efficiency of primary health care services in the province.
The provincial government says more than 50 per cent of the population in Quebec is under the age of 18 and over 80 per cent have no insurance.