Hello, my dear blog readers! Another post, barely 24 hours after my last post. Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue in the near future. Lol! It is Thursday today, and if you guys are like me, I am sure you are all looking forward to the weekend.
But tbh, my readers in Nigeria, the US and Canada are only just returning from a long weekend off work, so you guys should not be worn out just yet, right? Wrong! Lol! Even the day after returning from a holiday, I was always looking forward to the next weekend.
Since we arrived in Ottawa, we have been steadily ticking off a few “housekeeping” matters on our TODO list. The kind folks at Settlement.org put together a very useful guide on key tasks to accomplish in your first couple of weeks in Ontario which we have been keeping a lazy eye on. Sometimes, I’ll be honest, I look at the list and feel like we have not done much, but then I think deeper and realise that we are definitely not at ground zero.
So I am putting this post together to talk about our progress, key findings and tips we have received along the way. I am sure that when I am done with this post, I will also further realise the significant progress that we have made thus far.
WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED
We went to the Service Ontario location closest to us the day after we arrived. You may find the location closest to you here. We had read reviews on Google about the long queues and wait times, but we went anyway, as we didn’t really have a choice. The staff there were very polite and helpful and directed us to the appropriate queues.
The wait was about 40 minutes in total. When we were called, we provided our COPR and Passports. However, we were unfortunately told to come back once we had permanent accommodation. Apparently, our short-term rental arrangement with airbnb.com was not sufficient proof of residence in Ontario.
The good news though is that we were informed that we would be covered immediately after the expiry of the mandatory 3-month wait period for Ontario residents, which for us ends on November 30. Even if we had submitted the application on that day, we would only be eligible for health insurance coverage from November 30.
In essence, we have up until November 30 to find more permanent accommodation – a 12 or 6-month lease – and then resubmit our health card application. We would then be granted a temporary card (I think) on the same day, with the permanent one coming in the mail shortly thereafter.
SIN – SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER
The best part about the Service Ontario location above was that it had Service Canada and Service Ottawa in the same place. So after filling out our health card application forms, and while waiting to be called at the Service Ontario desk, we went to join the queue for the SIN. The wait was about 40 minutes also. This time, there were no hiccups. We were given our SINs.
We applied for a SIN for our 3-year-old son, who will not be working anytime soon. However, we got this in order to open an Education Savings Plan for him. You may read more about the plan here. One thing of note with this plan is that the Canada Education Savings Grant matches 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually to a maximum of $500 a year ($7,200 overall) for a child under the age of 18, plus possible catch-up grants. You may open this account with any of the banks in Canada.
Before leaving Nigeria, we learnt from our friends and from Nairaland that we needed to obtain a Certificate/Letter of Authentication from FRSC. With this certificate, we would be exempt from taking the G2 test, as well as the mandatory 12 month wait period, as it confirms that we have been driving for over 2 years. Thanks to their foreign licence experience credit scheme! Read more here and here.
We were informed that the letter was ready for pickup/delivery on the day we left Nigeria, so a very kind ex-colleague of mine assisted with collecting this from the HQ in Abuja, and mailing same to us. We expect to receive the original tomorrow, here in Canada.
In any case, we went to the Drive Test Canada centre closest to us to ask a few q’s as their telephone number just rang out. Mr O only had his temporary licence from Nigeria, so we needed to confirm that this was acceptable. We are currently studying for the Knowledge Test, and our intention is to sit for this on Monday.
Once we pass this (along with the vision test), we will then go on to write the Class G Road Test, and there will be no waiting before we can get behind the wheel! The total cost of this, $105.75 + $89.25 for a five-year licence! Sigh! Oh, there’s also a $16 charge for the Official MTO Driver’s Handbook.
We joined a public library 2 days ago. Now, this is one thing I am excited about. First of all, my 3-year-old son had never even heard of the word “library” until Monday! Imagine that! He loves being read to and pretending to be able to read, and so, he was so excited to be in the library. He has asked every day since when we are going back. The library is free to join, and black and white prints cost 10c per page. However, we have since bought a printer, so we may not be printing at the library going forward.
A friend told me that newcomers get $5 worth of free prints. However, this was not offered to us. In fairness, we didn’t ask for it. *shrugs* I am not sure though if this is a per month or per annum or per lifetime thing.
CANADA CHILD TAX BENEFIT (CCTB)
For newcomers without an income tax history in Canada, you need to fill out a form RC66 SCH E – Status in Canada / Statement of Income (download it here) and submit it along with your CCTB application. I was reliably informed that on this form, you should state yours and your spouse’s net income in your home country for the years 2017, 2016 and 2015 in order for the government to determine your income bracket, and thus determine the amount of benefit due to your child(ren), if any.
Tick, tick, tick! Lol! Please see below some useful tips received along the way:
- Ask about the newcomers’ package
- You may be offered a credit card. This is useful towards building a credit history required for……..lots of things down the road, like mortgage, so take it if you are offered.
- Ask for a credit card with no annual fees
- Ask for a checking account package that waives the annual/monthly fees for a year or there about
- You will need your SIN to open a bank account so do that first
Now, this a blurry area for me. We got these from CHATr. They cost $40 per month (SIM only) and give us unlimited free minutes within Canada and 500MB of data. However, I said it is blurry because I do not use my phone much, so I cannot say if we got a good deal or not, neither can I advise you to subscribe to the same network. It is not a contract, but a month-to-month plan. So we can leave/port from the network at any time. We would only lose the $10 SIM fee we paid if we decide to leave.
We have also picked up the following tips:
- For newcomers with no concrete source of income, consider getting a month-to-month plan. This reduces the financial obligations on you. When you can afford it, you pay for it, and other times you just chill and borrow your neighbour’s phone. Lol! Just kidding, but you get my point though 🙂
- You should ensure that you take your Nigerian phone with you into the shop when getting the SIM and ask for it to be tested for compatibility with the SIM prior to making payment. Mine and Mr O’s phones were not compatible with a certain network, I believe it was Freedom Mobile.
OUTSTANDING TASKS TO DO
FINDING A HOME
Honestly, this topic deserves its own post. We have not done much searching tbh. This is because we extended our stay in our current flat until the end of October, so we have some time to find a place. Also, we are concerned about the good school districts. The houses I personally like seem to be surrounded by the schools rated 2.5/10! Lol!
We have now pressed the Pause button on our house hunt for a while and will resume with fresh eyes (and hopefully a fresh approach) next week, after we have ticked off more things on our TODO list, and freed up some space in our RAM. *wink*
HOMESCHOOLING OUR SON
Other than submitting our health card application and taking our driving tests, we do not have much left to do. The key critical thing that may have been left to do would have been enrolling our son in daycare. However, I am not currently employed, neither am I seeking to be in the near future, so yours truly has decided to homeschool our son for the next year, working alongside Mr O.
Hmmmmm……to say that this will be a big challenge is an understatement! We have spent already about 10 out of the last 15 hours researching this topic. We really want to do it right and do it well consistently. For the last 2 weeks, our son has been on holiday. He has spent his time watching TV and generally faffing about! Lol! This will all change come Monday, God willing. We are currently putting together a curriculum for the next year, which we will try to make flexible enough to meet our family’s patterns and needs.
However, in some ways, I feel like it will be a boot camp. Hehehehehe! Mr O said yesterday that he hopes our son does not hate school when I am done with him! Lol! Anyone that knows me will know that this IS a valid concern. Lmao! But on a serious note, may God help us and give us wisdom and the Grace to Parent.
We want to enrol our son in Kindergarten next year at a highly ranked school. Our assumption is that these schools may be competitive, so we want to ensure that he is at least at par with the students who went to daycare or Pre-K then.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
I promise to do a full-on blog post once we have the curriculum figured out and have gotten the hang of homeschooling. Perhaps, I may do this post earlier. You see, I have realised that several women are, have or will share some of my experiences on this journey. For instance, it may be a prudent decision for new immigrant parents to hold off on enrolling their kids under 4 in school when they arrive in Canada.
So I want to share this, and hope o receive feedback from you on your experiences homeschooling your kids. I would also like to hear about any tips or tricks we can employ.
Till my next post.
Proprietress Mrs O