We were recently reminded by the Collège des médecins du Québec(CMQ) that the province has strict rules about using the honorific “Dr.” or “Doctor.” Rules differ from province to province. In Quebec, they are governed by the Professional Code, Sections 58 and 59, as well as Sections 188 and 189. (Please note the government website is currently experiencing technical issues; the link should be available once these issues are resolved.)

In summary:

  • The prefix Dr. or Doctor can be used by medical doctors, dentists and veterinarians, without restriction, unless the individual has otherwise contravened the Code.
  • The prefix Dr. or Doctor can be used by individuals for whom a doctoral degree is required to be a member of their professional order, but only if the person’s profession is referenced directly after their name, e.g.: Dr. John Smith, Optometrist.
  • In all other situations, it cannot be used as a prefix, but Doctor can be used after the name of individuals who hold a doctoral degree, e.g.: Jane Smith, Doctor of Biochemistry.

This CMQ bulletin provides further clarification (available only in French).

We will work to ensure all official communications – main Faculty website, the Faculty’s public-facing Health e-News and Focus e-magazine for alumni and friends, Faculty-wide e-broadcasts, media releases, etc. – comply with the Code, so as not to put you or any Faculty member at risk of receiving a notice of breach from the CMQ or another entity. If put on notice, you could incur penalties/fines, as well as lose time in court.

If you would like to change your prefix in McGill’s systems, please note that we are evaluating the most efficient way to do so with the central IT team and will communicate instructions once this has been determined. Do note the original instructions provided in this article were incorrect.

In the event you receive notice that you are in breach of the Professional Code for incorrectly using a professional title, we recommend that you seek personal legal counsel for information about your rights and obligations.

Thank you for sharing this information with those responsible for your departmental websites and with others concerned in your unit.

Communications Office
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences