Toronto, CAN

About Toronto

Relocating to Canada

FACEBOOK PAGES/GROUPS:

Fellowship in Toronto
https://www.facebook.com/groups/168850696565325/

Fellowship life transplant services
https://www.facebook.com/groups/369788716547533/

PGME Toronto Tots & Meet-Up Spots
https://www.facebook.com/groups/931369350255240/

BlogTO is a good website to find things going on in the city
Check out MedsHousing for property listings aimed directly at relocating doctors.

 

ARRIVING IN TORONTO:

There was a new service adjacent to immigration at Toronto airport that will set up you Social Insurance Number (SIN). Even though you are exhausted, it is worth getting this done now so you may get a bank account and mobile account as soon as possible.

 

VISAS: It’s a good idea to get every family member attached to the doctors work permit at your first point of entry to Canada, even if you’re only there for 6 months.  You go through immigration at your first port so be prepared for it then.  You need the correct stamps in your passport from immigration to be able to apply for state health insurance (OHIP). It’s highly recommend getting started on the paperwork as soon as you get it. It took just over a month to get all of the paperwork together just to submit my work permit and Canadian medical license. You need to get background checks, letters from medical school and American board of medicine, etc. If you submit it by mail, it will probably take a minimum of 3-4 months to get your work permit approved. If you come to Canada before the fellowship starts, I would get it done then.

HEALTH INSURANCE: There is a 3 month waiting period to be eligible for OHIP – Ontario Health Insurance plan.  You need to buy 3 months of cover upon starting work and this is provided by the university and is called UHIP. The employed person needs to buy it in person a the PGME (post grad medical education) on University Ave.  You then download a card with your insurance number.  All hospitals and a couple of walk in GPs easily accept UHIP Patients.  There is also extras cover that you can take out at the same time, but we were never told about it.

You then sign up for OHIP at service Ontario (the Australian equivalent is Medicare/Centrelink and VIC roads all rolled in together) Be prepared to wait. You need proof of address for each adult which can be tricky when you are in a serviced apartment and don’t have bills.  It helps if rental agreement has each adults name on it, or if you can get an employers letter with partners name on it, or Canadian bank letter/statement.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Australians – AVANT offers resonantly priced 12month unlimited travel insurance to members – seriously seriously worth it, as you cant get most travel insurance policies unless you are covered by the state health insurance of where you’re living – so not if you’re on UHIP.

There is lots to see and do both in summer and winter. The weather is warm and daylight hours are from 5am to 10pm during summer. Needless to say it is extremely cold in winter. Buy appropriate winter clothes in September. Overall it is an expensive city. Groceries are more expensive than Australia, and restaurants add on sales tax then expect a 15-20% tip on top of the pre-sales tax total. For the most part you can get by without a car. There are plenty of car rental places or car share programs.

 

BANKING:

We had been recommended TD Canadian trust. They have many branches and ATMS throughout Toronto but present to the University Ave branch one block south of the Sick Kids which specialises in helping set up clinical fellows. Other branches are unaware of the special credit card benefits they can offer you as a clinical fellow.

You will need your Social Insurance Number, work permit, letter of employment and passport to apply for an account. A basic account will give you a savings and cheque account, with a minimum $4-5,000 in the cheque account required to waive monthly fees. The cheque account here is used like our savings or debit facilities, and a savings account is more like a term deposit, with heavy fees incurred for transactions from this account.

 

PUBLIC SCHOOL INFORMATION:

http://www.tdsb.on.ca/earlyyears/kindergarten.aspx

School starts in September in Canada.

School can start for kids that are 4yrs old – it is called junior kindergarden. Senior Kinder starts for 5 year olds. There are great public schools in Ontario (100% publicly funded) and also private schools (much more expensive). Public schools downtown are Zoned.

Child care can be hard to get into and expensive! Two good ones are Hydro kids, and Ryerson Child care.

 

RENTAL ACCOMMODATION:

The most extensively used website for apartment letting is this one : www.kijiji.ca

The winters are sub zero but the summers are hot. I would strongly advise getting a place with air conditioning.

In terms of living in Toronto, you either live downtown close to the hospital or not. If you live close there is an underground path to walk around the city near the hospitals. There is an incredible amount of things nearby to do with the kids and Toronto is filled with parks. The housing market in Toronto is hot.  Apartments are gone quickly and very expensive.

Some fellows don’t live close to the hospital.  It is definitely cheaper the farther away you live.  You will never have to be at work before 7 am.  You can take public transportation (subway, bus, street car) and still be in on time.  The downside is that the subway stops running around 2 am.  That can be an issue if you rely on the subway and are on-call.  You’ll be on-call ~ every 6 days and you will have to come to the hospital in the middle of the night.  The ones that live father away just stay in the hospital when they are on call even though they can take call from home.

 

PHONES
Taxi driver advised us Fido had cheap, basic deals.we’ve both used our own iPhones & gone for monthly contract with them. The Eaton shopping centre centre is full of mobile providers’ shops & stalls where you can relatively easily compare the different providers for free minutes to one another, local numbers, texts, data, international texts, rates to international numbers if needed. Apparently The big Canadian-wide networks are best for coverage- Rogers, Telus, Bell (Fido is subsidiary or Rogers) Toronto specific can be patchy so ask about that. If you haven’t already & want to use ur current phone, unlock it ASAP at home.

Rogers does a reduced rate for Sick Kids employees at least and I don’t know, Rogers has a specia plan for Ontario Area Hospital’s workers which you receive 30% discount on your monthly dispenses. Rogers has good coverage. Bring your own phone to avoid a two year contract. You will need your SIN, passport and letter of employment to get a SIM card and discount. They may also require a temporary security deposit of $50-200 payable by credit card to ensure payment of bills. Once you place your order, it will take 24-48 hours to be approved and ready. (We had a deal for $60 a month for 3GB data, unlimited texts and calls across Canada, with a $5 bundle add on for 10c/min international calls and cheap international texts).

 

CAR SEAT REGULATIONS: 

Ontario
Children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are a minimum of 20 lb (9 kg). Children who are at least 20 lb (9 kg), but less than 40 lb (18 kg) must ride in an appropriate car seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until they are a minimum of 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm) tall, or a minimum of 80 lb (36 kg), or a minimum of 8 years old.

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/transport/road/child-car-seat-safety/buying-child-car-seat-booster-seat.html

Avoid cross-border shopping for child car seats
The National Safety Mark (sample shown below) indicates that a child car seat is certified to Canadian safety standards, which are different from other standards.Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 8.37.02 pm

It is illegal to import, sell, or use child car seats and booster seats in Canada that do not have this mark.
Parents are strongly advised to buy a seat only from a Canadian retailer to make sure the seat meets Canada’s rigorous regulations for safety. For more information, read Child car seat cross border shopping – what parents and caregivers should know.

Cafes and Restaurants

Here’s a few places we enjoyed just to get you started.

Crown Princess Dining – Nice yum cha
Terroni’s on Queen Street – Great pizza and pasta
The Chase – Seafood restaurant
Kasamoto – Japanese
Brothers – Modern cuisine with great wine
Seven lives Tacos – Kensington Ave – (these are a must try!)
Broadview Hotel
Miller Tavern on Bay
Bar Chef – Fancy Cocktails
Miss Thing’s
LoPan
Bar Raval
Campagnolo
Figo
Blowfish (Sushi)
Patois
Canoe (Rooftop bar):66 Wellington St
Bang Bang – Ice Cream
Hey Lucy – Woodfired Pizza with Patio
Smoke’s Poutinerie (You must try Poutine in Canada)
The Queen & Beaver (Sunday Roast) – 35 Elm St
Snakes and ladders- bored game coffee house/bar

Guu (Japanse)- 398 Church St/559 Bloor St West

 

 

Things to do

Central YMCA: 20 Grosvenor St, Toronto, ON It  is a big gym. Creche for the kids if you want to work out alone. Also a ‘Family gym’ session every morning (including weekends) with soft mats, climbing apparatus, balls etc. Also has weekend sessions. Resource room good for babies. Has a kids pool.
On Friday 10:30-11 there is a story time in the resource room. On Wednesdays there is a circle time at 11am in the gym.5am til midnight! Family gym starts at 9:30 most days. It costs $7 per session per child if not a member. Family membership available. Highly recommend if you live closely.

AGO (Art Gallery Ontario): 317 Dundas Street West. The gallery is excellent. Downtrairs there is a crafts room for kids (drop in) with lots of colouring, gluing, etc. Also some fun creative toys. Has a story time at 11am on a Friday. It costs $20/adult, free for children. Annual pass available. It’s worth considering buying the family pass with a friend named as other adult (they won’t ask if you’re a couple!). Opens 10 – 5ish, varies on days of the week.

ROM (Royal Ontario Museum): 100 Queens Park.  Museum with natural history, ancient history, Canadian artifacts etc etc. Everything you could want in a museum. The dinosaurs are fun. There is a hands on centre on the first floor. There is a café downstairs which is terrible.
They run educational sessions for 2-5 year olds and mum and baby walk abouts. They get booked up early. Cost $20/adult, free for young children. Definitely consider getting a family membership. Opens 10-5ish. Late night opening Fridays in winter for adults

CN Tower: A big tower to look out over Toronto. Underneath there is a childrens’ play area which is free to access (past the gift shop). Play are is free. CN tower itself is expensive! Opens 9am until 10pm.

Ripley’s aquarium: 288 Bremner Blvd. A big aquarium with fish, sharks, turtles, jellyfish etc etc. Really great aquarium. Worth thinking about getting a family membership. Cost – $30/adult Infants free Children $10. Opens 9am until 11pm

Allen Gardens: Corner of Jarvis St and CarltonSt.  A great park suitable from toddlers to about age 10. There is also a conservatory with gorgeous flowers, palms etc and turtles (the highlight for the kids!).At Christmas they have a session with free cookies, hot chocolate and horse and carriage rides. One to watch out for! The park around Allan Gardens can be a bit tramp filled. Don’t be put off – the conservatory and playpark are both great. Free.

River dale Farm: 201 Winchester street, Council Toronto run small farm. Horses, sheep etc. Very sweet. Daily talks from the ‘farmer’. A drop in play session (very low key) daily at 10:30 in the barn: mainly useful as somewhere to warm up in winter. No petting of the animals
They run a big event day a few times a year. Worth looking out for. Schedule on the barn door.
In the summer there is a wading pool (paddling pool) in the little park just outside, before the farm.
In the winter, the tobogganing here is the best locally. (In Riverdale park behind the farm – continue down Carlton). Open 9am – 5pm. Free.

The 519: 519 Church street. LGBQT centre that has a drop in for infants and toddlers Tues – Friday.
Session runs form 10 – 1, with circle time etc. Snack is big and given at 11am. Easiest to go round the back to the play park and go in the doors at the back. You need to leave the stroller outside. In the summer the playpark has a splash pad so bring appropriate clothes for the kids. They welcome everyone. 10am -1pm, Free.

Church street school drop in: 83 Alexander street. A drop in for infants and toddlers based at a primary school. Runs from 10am-1pm with circle time etc. A small room but friendly. Serves morning snack. Free.

Cecil street drop in: 58 Cecil street. A drop in for infants and toddlers based at a community centre in China town. Big room, plenty of space to run about. runs 10am-1pm Tues, Thurs and Sat. Free.

Gerrard resource centre: 525 Bloor Street East. A drop in for infants and toddlers based at a church. Runs from 10-1 with circle time etc. Also has a toy library. Runs 10am-1pm Mon-Thurs. Free.

The Toronto Islands: Toronto Islands. You need to get the ferry across from Jack Layton ferry terminal. On central island there is a great council playpark and a commercial funland with petting zoo and rides. There are nice bike paths and you can rent in the summer. There is a little beach. Lots to do. I’d take a picnic and plan to make a day of it. We also went in the autumn, when there is only a ferry to Ward’s island (where there is a small town) and had a lovely time. **Note: check whether the centre island stuff is open before you go. Cost – Islands are free, but ferry and funland cost.

High Park: Huge park with walking trails, outdoor pool and a little zoo and play park area. Accessible via the 506 street car (which is not very stroller friendly!) or subway. Free.

The Children’s book bank: 350 Berkeley street. A house converted into a kids library / book donation centre. It has a lovely homely feel and LOADS of kids books. Closed Saturday in July and August
When you leave you get a FREE BOOK for every child & adult who has attended. Runs 10am-6pm Mon-Thurs, 10am-3pm Fri, Sat 10am-3pm. Free.

Evergreen Brickworks: An old brickworks which now runs a weekly market on a Saturday and regular events. Also a large wooded area with ponds and trails. We enjoyed the blueberry festival. It always seems windy and colder down there than in the rest of the city. Lots to do in winter – skating trails etc. Good for nature walks in the summer. Cost is free but some events cost.

Public libraries: Wellesley, central and parliament are all close. All have a circle/ toddler time once a week and some have a baby time. Free.

Grange Park: Play park and grassy park with splash pad just south of the AGO. Absolutely lovely park, possibly best for slightly older kids. Great splash pad. Free.

June Rowlands Park: Big grass area, play park, sand box and splash pad. Accessible from Davisville subway. Free.

Sprouts: 183 Carlaw Ave. Indoor play area for kids. Free hot drink for the adult. Avoid on weekends! They also run classes.

Toronto Science centre: 770 Don Mills road. Big, interactive science museum. Opens 10am-4pm weekdays, 10am-5pm at weekends.Cost – $22 adult, child $13, under 2’s free.

Casa Loma:1 Austin Terrace, Toronto. Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens in midtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that is now a museum. Open 9:30am – 5pm.

Toronto Zoo:2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto.

Distillery district: Trinity St. Has agreat restaurnats and shops, and a Sunday Market 12pm-5pm.

St Lawrence Market: 93 Front St East. Fantastic fresh food market, with a great downstairs eating area. Open everyday except Sunday.

TRAVEL

  • Dog sledding in Halliburton – recommend winter dance –  it was the most amazing experience
  • Lake Simco/ Barrie – nice by the lake in Summer and Ice Fishing there in Winter.
  • Blue Mountains for Skiing in Winter.
  • Prince Edward County – a great place to visit for a summer holiday.
  • Niagara falls
  • Niagara on the Lake – a gorgeous little town surrounded by wineries.
  • Algonquin park
  • Muskoka
  • Montreal
  • Quebec City
  • Ottawa

General Canadian advice

Utilities: Electricity: Toronto Hydro is who we were advised to go through.

Supermarkets Loblaws: A huge supermarket. On the corner of Cartlon and Church. Located in the  maple leaf gardens building. It also has a walk in medical clinic.
Sobeys.
Metro.
Hudson Bay has Pussateri’s downstairs for gourmet foods. It also has a champagne bar.
Alcohol: LCBO.
Retail Shopping (clothes/toys) Locations:
Winners
Marshalls
Old Navy
Canadian Tire
Toys Toys Toys (Eaton Centre)
Indigo
Dollarama
Hudson Bay
Wallmart

 

Drivers license: Your Australian licence is good enough for 3 months, but if you get an International Drivers Permit from your local Motoring Association then you can drive for upto a year from when the drivers permit was authorised. I got mine done by RACV (Victorian motor authority). It was very easy to do online and cost about $40 AUD.

Otherwise if you want a Canadian Drivers Licence you will need to supply an original abstract of driving history – they are very strict it can’t be a downloaded printed copy – it must be on official letter headed paper from Australia.

https://www.ontario.ca/page/drive-ontario-visitors#section-1 

Also car sharing is a big thing here. Zip Car and Car to go. I believe Turo is the equivalent of airbnb for cars.