Some of the most frequently asked questions that I have been asked in the past forty years that I have lived in Canada, about life here in Southern Ontario...
Q. Is the weather always really, really cold in Canada?
A. This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and the answer is "No, it isn't!" Sure we do have cold, crisp winters here - most of us would even say that they go on a little too long, but we also enjoy beautiful mild Spring weather, fabulous long, hot Summers and the most breath-taking Autumns I have ever seen! So, no, it is not always cold here - and, Winter here is a time for being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. Christmas in Canada is beautiful as you are almost guaranteed a White Christmas!
Q. This question is a little different - One of our readers from London, Ontario, would like to know if there is a fresh-water spring nearby, here is her question - I wonder if one of your readers would know where I can get spring water from a running spring, that is not too far from London, Ontario?
Thanks for your question, Wanda. If anyone has any information and can help, please let us know by completing the form at the bottom of this page.
Q. If I move to Canada will I find the people friendly?
A. Yes, Canadians in general are friendly people. In a huge city such as Toronto you may not find it as easy to make new friends unless you already know people there, but in most small towns and cities the folks are friendly and welcoming. Many people here have ancestors who came from other countries, so maybe that is why they are welcoming to newcomers. On the other hand, in a larger city there is a greater chance that there will be other people from your home-land, but I have found that people who settle here make friends fairly quickly.
Q. Hello! We are moving in Canada around March. My 4 year old son in Kindergarten now, what we gonna do to put him to school at that time? Thank you!
A. Children in Ontario begin full-time school in the September of the year in which they turn 6 years old. Senior Kindergarten starts in the September of the year they turn 5, and Junior Kindergarten starts in the year they turn 4. Your son will go in to the level he would have started the previous September. Therefore, if he is 4 or 5 when you arrive in Canada, depending upon when his birthday falls, he will likely join the Junior or Senior Kindergarten class. The best thing to do would be to contact the local School Board in the community where you will be living, as they will be able to guide you. Once you arrive at your new home in Ontario, just take your child to the school, with his identification, and register him for school. It should be possible for you to take him and show him his new classroom, and introduce him to his teacher. Thank you for sending this question to our frequently asked questions section.
Q. Is it hard to get used to driving on the right-hand side of the road? (one of the frequently asked questions from people emigrating from England)
A. This is one of our most frequently asked questions. It takes time to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road, but it is not difficult. Outside of major cities there is much less traffic on the roads here, so I find that people from the UK quickly adapt. I would suggest that people not drive immediately after a long trans-Atlantic flight which arrives late in the evening, as fatigue combined with driving on the other side of the road can be a tragic combination.
Q. What is Health Care like in Ontario?
A. Residents of the province of Ontario are covered by OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) and visits to Doctors are free, as are Hospital Emergency room visits and treatment. To receive free health care you must hold a valid OHIP identity card. More information can be found at the website of OHIP
Q. Is housing expensive in Ontario?
A. I think the answer to that depends upon where you live now, and this is one of the most frequently asked questions, so if you live in the UK or parts of Europe, then the answer would be "No". In general I would say that if you are buying a home in a city such as Toronto, then housing can be expensive, however, housing in smaller towns and cities can be very affordable to those coming here from overseas. Check out our Real Estate section for information on the Southern Ontario housing market.
Q. If I emigrate to Canada, should I bring all my furniture and household goods?
A. This is a tough question and is one of the most frequently asked questions, and the answer really lies in knowing if your existing furniture is worth the expense of bringing it to Canada or not. For example, when I came here I sold all my furniture and gave away everything else, except what we carried with us, because most of our things were of no special value. Friends of mine brought absolutely everything because they had expensive items and antiques, so the cost of shipping them here was worth it. From the UK the cost of a full container can be around $8,000, so consider carefully. It is possible to rent half or part of a container which would reduce the cost of shipping your possessions. Some people consider shipping only their valuables and items with great sentimental value. I recently had three pieces of my grandmother's furniture shipped here, which cost me $1,500, but I thought that was worth it, as they are special to me.
Q. How much does gasoline cost in Ontario at the moment? This is one of the more frequently asked questions at the moment!
A. Too much! Here we complain about the price of gasoline (petrol), but until recently we paid less than $1.00 per litre. At the moment the price at the pumps is between $1.18 and $1.21, in the London area, but this price is fluctuating almost daily, so I will update this if there is any major change.
Q. At what age do children start school in Ontario?
A.Children in Ontario start full-time school in September of the year in which they are six years old. Most school boards have a part-time Kindergarten program for younger children who are turning 5 years old that year, and some schools also have a Junior Kindergarten program for 4 year olds. Kindergarten programs are typically half-days or alternate days each week.
Q. What are the schools like in Ontario, and do we have to pay to send our children to school?
A. The cost of schools is paid by our income taxes and the taxes home owners pay on their homes. In general in Ontario there are two school systems - the Public Schools and the Separate (or Catholic) Schools which are administered by their respective School Boards. Parents have a choice to send their children to the public or Catholic school that is in the area where they live. There are also Private Schools where fees would be paid - some are Religious and some are Secular. The choice to Home-School, to educate your child at home, is also a choice open to parents in Ontario.
Q. Where is a good place in Southern Ontario to see the Northern Lights?
A. The Northern Lights are truly a beautiful phenomenon, however, they are elusive and unpredictable. I have found that the best time to see them is late at night, and from a place where there are no city lights - out in farm country is best. Sometimes they are visible for a short time, maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and other times I have watched them for a couple of hours. The experts say that they are connected with sun spot activity, so perhaps if you read or hear on the news that there is high sun spot activity, you could go outside if the weather is clear, keep away from street lights or the light from a town or city, and face North, and watch, if you are lucky you may see them. The farther north you are, the more likely you are to see the Lights - we do see them here occasionally right across Southern Ontario, but I have seen them more often in North Bay, Ontario, and also farther north in Timmins and Sudbury, Ontario. They are also visible often from the northern US states.
Q. I was wondering what the hours are for stores in the Fall in Southern Ontario. Are they all open on Saturdays and Sundays in September and October?
A. Most of the stores in this area are open on Saturdays and Sundays - in the main towns and cities, but in smaller places such as the "touristy" villages such as Sparta, Port Stanley, and Bayfield, then some of them are open at the weekends, other stores close for the winter. I wish I could be more specific, but sometimes whether they open or not, at weekends in Fall, depends upon the weather. This is not one of our most frequently asked questions but thank you for asking this.
Q. How does the school bus work? We're moving to Sudbury in 3 - 4 months. We live in Europe, and we take our kids to school everyday. I checked the some school's websites, they offer "school bus" service. We don't have this thing here and we read too many horrible stories about what happen in school bus in USA, as parents, we have many concerns about our children's safety in a new country. Could you tell me more about the school bus service? Is it totally free? Do we have to make seat reservations for our kids? Is it trustable?
A. Hello Vida - the School Bus service is free and is available to all children who live farther from school than they could walk - the distance depends on the School they will go to. If you live close to the school, the children will walk there, or you can take them, but if you live far from the school, the bus will pick them up and bring them home in the afternoon.
I would check with the School Boards in Sudbury. I found this link for you, for both the Catholic School Board and the Public School Board, with information about the distances from home the children are expected to be able to walk.
Also, for children to travel on the school bus is considered very safe. Sudbury School Bus Information
· Jr or Sr Kindergarten ........ 0 km
· Grades 1 - 3 ............... 1.0 km
· Grades 4 - 8 ............... 1.6 km
· Grades 9 - 12 ............... 2.5 km
School Buses are considered safe, and they are a great way to get kids who live a long distance from school, transported there every day.
By the way, welcome to Canada - it isn't easy to move to a new country, so far from your home-land, but I found Canadians to be welcoming and friendly, and hope that you do too!
Bienvenido a Canadá!
Q. One of the many reasons I'd like to jump across Lake Erie to the Canadian side is because jobs don't exist here anymore. One can apply for 10 jobs of something you have 5+ years experience in, and maybe not get one interview or call, as everyone now fights for the work. Is there a minimum wage? Is work any easier to find than my description? Does almost every employer hire part time only, to avoid any benefits? Thank you!
A. As of January 1 2018, the Minimum Wage in Ontario is $14.00 an hour. The Unemployment rate in October 2014 in Ontario was 6.5%, so the employment situation here is not as good as it once was.
Those are the facts and figures, but on the level of individuals seeking full time work, the situation still has a long way to go.
I think there are many employers here who hire part-time workers to save money because they don't have to include part-time workers in a benefit package - but the figures from Statistics Canada show that "Underlying February's employment change was a notable gain in full-time work (+60,000), which was partially offset by a decline in part time (-39,000). Since the summer of 2009, employment growth has been all in full time."
I hope the situation in both our countries soon improves, meanwhile, perhaps here are a couple of websites I found with lots of information and samples of Resume layouts, cover letters, and even follow-up letters.
If you have a question that you would like to see added to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of our site, please use the form below and we will post our answer here.
Do you have a question that you would like us to answer here on our website? Do you have a question about life here in Southern Ontario?
If so, ask our informed panel of experts (hubby and me) and we will help you if we can!
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