Landing and Settlement in Canada – Your official guide to settling successfully in Ontario
Research from various organizations with my years of experience as a settlement agent in Ontario has prompted me to compile this comprehensive guide that will help new immigrants to settle successfully within their first few months in Ontario.
First, you need to understand that settling in a new country can take days, months, or weeks in some cases. However, with the right information, which I am going to provide in this guide, you can make your first few months in Canada a hassle-free one.
In this guide, we shall cover the following points:
Life in Ontario
Job and employment
Education in Ontario
Getting a driver’s license
Accommodation in Ontario
Additional Resources and Postlanding services in Ontario
Necessary things to bring to Canada
Okay, now we have established our focal area, of which, I am going to attach the relevant resources and links that will make this information more accessible. Grab a drink, relax, and let’s take this ride together.
Life in Ontario
You have arrived one of the world’s most prestigious destination for immigrants, and then, you make that decision to settle in Ontario. However, you need to understand that Ontario is the most famous territory in Canada, with over 13.5 million people.
More than half of this number reside in the most populous, and also, the largest city in the country – Toronto. Toronto harbors people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds – little wonder it has tremendous cultural diversity.
Aside from Toronto, Ottawa, which happens to be the capital of the country is also a destination to behold. Life in Ontario is purely business-oriented as that is the financial hub of the country. The reason why there are more foreign immigrants in Ontario than any other province in Canada.
Medical Services in Ontario
Canada is one of the countries that provides the best healthcare facilities to its residents and citizens. Although free access to these facilities might defer depending on your status in the country, having an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is an inevitable requirement to access any of the health care services.
So, health insurance card is one of the first things you need to apply for immediately you get to Ontario, as the processing can take up to three months.
However, you must have resided in the province for a minimum of 153 days out of the initial 180 days of arrival. Check the resource links i attached below on how to apply for your health insurance card.
Job and Employment
Aside from the all-inclusive information I released previously on getting a job as a new immigrant on arrival in Canada, it would also help if you prepare yourself for employment by following these steps below;
Apply to get a social insurance number
If you’re not coming in as a permanent resident, then, there is a need for you to access your educational credentials. Do this before applying for jobs as it will prove your readiness to the prospective employer. The Canadian Centre for International Credentials (CCIC), and World Education Services (WES) are two notable educational credential assessment organizations.
Some occupations in the country might request a Certificate of Qualification. If you are in such position, then contact Red Seal which is widely renowned as a trade certification organization.
Ensure you have a basic knowledge of either English or French language. Either way, you can also polish your fluency by taking online courses on Either English or French as a Second Language.
If you are an entrepreneur and wants to establish a small-scale business, then, the government, through the SBCO, are there to help you realize this business establishment.
If you are foreign medical personnel, you need to be trained, assessed, and licensed by IMG-Ontario to be eligible to get a job or work as a medical practitioner in Ontario.
The government of Ontario through “Employment Ontario” helps to connect various employers within the province to skilled individuals with the necessary qualities to take-up available job positions in their company. You can contact them via 1-800-387-5656 (Toll-free line). Before you do so, make your background research, and my guide regarding getting a job in Canada can also help you.
Finally, it is pertinent for you to have a permit to work in Canada before you engage in any activity of such. Visitors are not allowed to work in Ontario. Besides, do not forget to read the information I published regarding the steps to get a job as a skilled immigrant in Canada.
Financial System in Ontario
There are various banks within the territory, especially in Toronto. Once you arrive in Canada, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to open a bank account.
Famous banks within Ontario are HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Scotia Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and TD Canada Trust. You can also obtain the necessary information at the Canadian Bankers Association here.
Currencies as from 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 CAD (Canadian dollar) respectively, come in the form of a paper print. On the other end, $2 (twoonie), $1 (loonie), and Cents such as 25 (quarter), 10 (dime), 5 (nickel), 1(penny) occur in coins.
Trades and exchanges in Ontario require either cash, cheque, debit, or credit cards. Interestingly, children below the age of 18 qualify to enjoy the Canada Child tax benefit.
Education in Ontario
The system of education in Ontario does not significantly differ from the educational system in Canada. Schooling generally begins at age 4. There are three levels of education; 1. Primary 2. Secondary 3. Tertiary (includes universities and colleges).
The provincial government is responsible for maintaining and regulating the standards of education in the province, although you might experience a change in rules from private owners. The government generally funds the elementary and secondary schools, and there are also schools owned by the Catholic Church.
Regardless of the category of education, session commences at September and ends by June for primary and secondary level, then, April for tertiary schools. Before you enroll for any level of study, ensure you reach out to the respective school authorities to confirm their date of enrollment.
Holidays occur mostly around December, January, March, or April according to the purpose of the break.
Getting a driver’s license in Ontario
Another essential document you need to possess is a driver license which is specific to Ontario. You can arrive in the country with your native driver license if you have any, however, after 60 days, the grant becomes invalid.
Therefore, to obtain an Ontario driver’s permit, you will be required to undergo training via the Ontario licensing system. The training takes place in three stages. Within this period, you’ll have to go through a series of tests, including writing, visual, and road test.
The minimum age requirement to have a license in Ontario is 16, and the training period is about 20 months. However, it will be shorter for those who already have a recognized foreign driver’s license.
Accommodation in Ontario
If this is your first time in Ontario, then, I would recommend you to secure temporary housing via Ontario settlement services.
These settlement agencies have real estate agents among them that would adequately guide you towards making the right choice of accommodation. You are new to the city; regardless of that, here are some vital information you need to know about accommodation in Canada.
There are apartment buildings, condominiums, and a Studio apartment.
Apartment building – these are big buildings comprising of several units where each person can rent a unit. Most times, influential personnel or companies own these apartments.
Studio apartments consist of a single room and can only be inhabited by one person. Moreover, each studio apartment has a bathroom and kitchen attached to it.
Condominiums are multifaced apartments wherein separate individuals own each part. A single piece is referred to as ‘condo.’ Condos can come in different sizes, so, it would be great to check-out the size before striking a deal.
The price differs according to the location and size of the apartments.
For example, the cost of accommodation is generally high within Ottawa and Toronto. However, if visit places like Kingston or Sudbury, which are almost at the outskirts of the territory, housing is cheaper. Some people also prefer to lodge in the suburbs, which is not a bad idea.
However, the essential factors that will determine your choice of accommodation should be your place of work, family size, finance, and neighborhood.
It would also interest you to know that the use of pets is illegal in some locations, so, you must find out about the rules within your environments.
Weather in Ontario
The weather condition in the territory is mostly friendly during summer, especially at southern Ontario. Nevertheless, it can go freezing during the winter season. Yes, as cold as -30 degrees in some cases.
Therefore, when traveling, make sure you buy some necessary materials such as cold jackets, hats, gloves, boots and all. Do not contemplate entering the country during the winter period without proper body protection against cold.
That is why most Ontario residents, during winter, move about with materials such as candles, blankets, first aid treatment, and a snow shovel. Besides, the car tires are manufactured specially to function during snow winter.
Extra Resources and Service Providers in Ontario
If you need any form of additional assistance with settling in Ontario, then I would recommend you use Post-landing services in Toronto. They would provide more comprehensive information regarding which service you require.
Their services cover all other areas of settlement in Canada which I did not cover here. These includes; transport guidance, child tax benefit, SIN application, airport pick-up, photo ID, child tax benefit, registering of bank account, admissions, job assistance, and many more.
Ontario is a region with diverse culture, and it receives thousands of immigrants into the city each year. While some of these immigrants become permanent residents, others choose to visit the territory for a short period.
There are lots of services in different languages, and there is a high probability of finding someone from your country.
Cases of Emergency?
Wherever and whenever you find yourself in a strange situation that requires urgent assistance, dial 911 to get a response from an operator.
Necessary things to bring to Canada?
There are strict regulations regarding items that can enter the country — items such as pets, beverages, nicotine products, plants, animals, cars, and other things. In order not to get into issues with the authorities, you should make proper consultations regarding any of the questionable items before bringing it into the country.
More so, even the permitted items have laid down guidelines to follow before you can import them to the country. I would help you with contact for details regarding animals, food, and automobiles.
Animals and Food
Contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Animal Health, and Agriculture @ 59 Camelot Drive, Nepean, Ontario K1A OY9.
For Automobile, contact Transport Canada. Place de Ville, Tower C, 330 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A ON5. You can also check their respective websites.
Please Note:the in formation contained in this guide is a product of sources from relevant bodies, together with my experience as a settling agent in Canada. Therefore, the information is subject to change from time to time.