Are you new to Canada? Thinking about making the move? Or in the process but feeling completely overwhelmed? I know how you are feeling, we were where you are now back in 2004. Most new immigrants have three main concerns, housing, work and schooling (if they have children). But what do you do first? Do you move to an area where the houses are affordable but the work limited, or where there is lots of work but housing so expensive that your budget gets you a shoebox. Add in the issues with trying to pick a good school, childcare availability etc. and it is easy to see why the whole situation can become overwhelming.
This is where you need help, someone to guide you through the options, help you break down all you need to do into manageable chunks. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions and the response.
How does the schooling system work?
The school system in Ontario is divided into a number of different options:
- Public School Board
- Catholic School Board
- French Language
- Private Schools
The public school system which is non denominational is the ‘default’ system. When you move here as a landed immigrant or with the relevant work permits, unless you specify an alternative school system, your child will be eligible for a place at the public school which services the area where you live. The public school system offers education in both english and french immersion schools. In French Immersion schools half of each day is conducted entirely in french the other half in english. If it is important to you that your children are bilingual in french and english then this could be an option for you, the downside is that if you, as the parent, don’t speak french helping your young child with a project which is expected to be completed in french could be a challenge! One step beyond French Immersion are the French Language schools where the entire education is conducted in French. Links to the Halton District School Board and the Halton District Catholic School Board can be found on the ‘Oakville Schools’ page of this website.
How do I pick a good school?
Some countries schooling systems are very driven by ranking of the schools, the UK system is a good example, and parents can select which school they would like their children to attend and then the competition starts to get a place. The system in Ontario is not so driven by a school’s ranking and the school your child will attend within the public school system is dictated by your address. However an organisation called the Fraser Institute does provide a ‘Report Card’ for schools and this can be used to compare schools within the same neighbourthood.
Do house prices vary depending on area?
The answer to this is yes, most definitely, some towns are a lot more expensive than others and within those towns certain neighbourhoods sell at a premium over others. Often it is easy to see why there is such a differential in prices but sometimes it is not so obvious. House prices can be driven by good secondary schools but not so much by elementary schools.
What daycare options are available?
There are many daycare options available, from daycare facilities on site at your place of employment to home daycare providers. This site provides an easily searchable link to available home daycare providers throughout Ontario, and this link provides more detailed information on child care providers, licenses and checklists to ensure you are placing your child in the best possible environment. Many schools offer before and after school programs.