View Full Version : American family moving to Canada, help please?

03-04-2014, 06:46 PM
DH might have a long term work assignment in Canada of 1-2 years. So we are exploring what a move to Canada might be like for our family. It would be to the Toronto area. We are excited about the possibility of exploring and learning about a new place. I'm the mom and worried about how it will impact my kiddos. I guess my biggest questions are about education and healthcare.

My DS is 5 and starting kindy in the fall. He will be 6 when the school year starts (we chose to redshirt him here). Is delaying kindy widespread in Canada? Will he be placed into first grade?

We chose to delay kindy because he has some fine and gross motor delays. He does not have a diagnosis, other than delays. We have him in physical and occupational therapy here. What would the process be like in Canada to get him into therapy?

Any info, thoughts, resources you could point me to would be really appreciated!

03-04-2014, 07:09 PM
I moved back home to Canada after about 8 years in the US. I'm in Ontario, so the same province as Toronto. I'm about 3.5 hrs from that area.

You'll need health insurance as that won't be covered until you are in Ontario for 3 months. I bought blue cross for me and Dd's.

We start junior kindergarten the year the kids turn 4. Depending on the school board, it may be full day everyday. There will be therapy options available, it'll depend on the county you move to. We have a huge centre here that deals withe all types of therapy: speech, physically disabilities and everything in between.

You'll have to import your vehicles in to the country if you need it to have Ontario plates. Not all makes/models will be able to be imported into Canada. But, don't buy here way to expensive. I've imported a honda van and that was really easy. But, if I had to model below it would have been harder to bring in as it wouldn't have day time running lights. Only certain points of entry can process cars being imported.

I don't know what state your in but it's fairly easy here to get your kids help when they need it. We have a ton of social programs designed to help kids when they need it.

PM me if you want any details. I live in a border city and cross at least once a week. And I've had American friends who moved to Canada last year.

03-04-2014, 07:41 PM
School are provincially administered, so I can not speak to Ontario per se, but in our province we have a lot of kids in the kids' grades that were held back at some time or other. The cut-offs are also different from province to province. I think the cut-off in ON is December 31, so "typical" placement would be dependent on when the child is born. If your kids are summer kids, they would be pretty smack dab in the middle of their grade level, so it might be more noticeable if he is the only 6 year old in a room full of 5 year olds, is my only concern. I think the school would be able to assist in determining the most age/grade appropriate/equivalent placement, but that is not to say you can't hold him back, you usually just can't advance him a grade.

We went to the US for a year on a work-term and DS2 ended up being placed in a younger grade while we were there (again, based on school age cut-offs). It worked out well as he was pretty immature and being in a younger grade was a good fit for him.

I can't speak to the therapy as that is provincially governed. Can you get a diagnosis before you arrive? It might be easier than having to navigate a whole new healthcare/PT/OT system. If you come with something already in place, you might have an easier time navigating the system (a friend has a complicated medical history and moved here a few years ago and the family doctor was able to get her into the right specialists much faster/easier than having to diagnose first and then get her into specialists).

03-05-2014, 01:12 AM
I am an American living in Quebec; now a dual citizen. I have moved here permanently. However, the process to move here as a citizen or citizen-to-be is not the same as it is for someone only moving here temporarily.

I will speak about my cousin's experience instead, however, as she and her family did something similar to what you described in your OP: moving temporarily for work. My cousin's DH works for a large multinational corporation and was transferred to a TO area office for several years. The company moved them, pays for the kids schooling (they're in a private) and helped them find a rental home (and they also pay for it). Cars are provided by the company so they didn't have to deal with importing US cars into the country (but I did, if you want to ask me about it). They are not on OHIP (the provincial insurance in ON). They have US insurance which means they either pay oop for everything and have to be reimbursed for every service; I am not certain if they have additional Canadian private insurance which would undoubtedly make this a bit easier.

So, in her case a lot of these things were taken care of by the company. Also, there was a huge support network to answer questions and help my cousin and her DH get things set up. IIWY I'd contact the company regarding their resources first.

As for your questions:
-in QC, redshirting is very uncommon. You have to apply to the Ministry of Education to do it. In your case, w/o an actual diagnosis, your child might be placed in first based on his b-day. I do not know about ON.
-As Piglet said, medical treatment and therapy is much like in the US. Sure, there is a wait time, but depending on your area, it might not be too bad.
-I imported a car when I became a Canadian citizen. It was an older model and had to be brought up to code so that meant adding an anchor for top-tethering (required in Canada), and making sure the running lights stayed on when the car was running. It didn't cost much, and it was no big deal. After having the work done you can have your car inspected at pretty much any Canadian Tire. We then brought it to the Customs House downtown to be approved.
-you'll need to get your license switched to a Canadian one. That's just a simple matter of exchanging your valid US license at the Society of Transportation offices.
-the US is fun in that it requires its citizens to pay taxes if they live outside the country (over a certain threshold). Depending on your DH's work setup be prepared to pay both Canadian and US taxes. If there's room to negotiate, this is something you would want to negotiate on. My cousin's setup is that they only pay US taxes - which is why they're not on OHIP.

Another thing to consider....do you work now? Do you want to? Your DH's work visa will allow him to "import" his family. But is unlikely it will allow you to work yourself, or even go to school. My cousin was quite surprised to find this out. Her kids are older than yours, so at first she really had to work to find activities to engage herself in.

03-05-2014, 04:11 AM
I've realized that we may be giving you some misinformation, or at least confusing information, now that I think on it. The crux is that a Canadian cannot legally drive a US-registered/licensed/insured car IN Canada. This is why people have to import their cars, change their licenses, etc. when they either move back here, or when they become Canadian citizens.

I lived and drove my US car here for many years on a student visa. Because I was a foreign student, which is supposed to be a temporary status, my car was registered and insured in the US, and I held a license from the state of my origin. Pretty much the minute my DH sponsored me to become a Canadian citizen - even though I was still a student - I had to go through the process of importing my car, changing the insurance, and swapping my driver's license for a Canadian one. This is also when I got onto Canadian healthcare.

My point? As a temporary resident, you may not need to go through all this. You may well be able to continue driving your US-registered and licensed cars the entire time you're up here. My advice would be to ask the HR at your DH's work. That's where my cousin found most of her answers.

03-05-2014, 12:59 PM
I'm in the Toronto area but just outside the GTA. Assuming you'll be living in the GTA, the main school board is the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The school cut-off is Dec 31st. Red-shirting is not really common here. Kindergarten is very much play-based and is 2 years. So, kids start JK at age 4 and then do SK the year they turn 5. So, according to that your son would be proper age for grade 1 next year. The only concern I'd have with keeping him back would be that many schools do what they call a "JK/SK split" so half the class is 4yo and half is 5yo. If your DS will already be 6yo, keep in mind that he might be with 4yo's in his class. I know a friend of mine did hold her son (He has a mid-December bday) back in JK (so, when he was 4yo). She did need to get special permission from the school and the district and had a bit of a battle to do it. So, it is possible but just not as common as it seems to be in the US.

Also, keep in mind that K here is heavily play-based. My older 2 kids attended public JK/SK (not in the TDSB but I think our board is pretty similar) and never once did they bring home any worksheets or homework. They don't sit at desks, or at least in our school they didn't. Kids coming into grade 1 are not expected to be reading fluently. Once you know what area you will be living in, it might be worthwhile to meet with the local school to discuss your DS's skills and see if he would be ready for the grade 1 program here or not.

There is OT and PT in the schools. I can't remember how exactly it works in the public system here as my kids were in private at the same time so we did that stuff through the private school as it was quicker. There are also lots of other public resources through OHIP. The only downside is that they will have long waitlists. If your DH will have group insurance through his work here (see my healthcare comments below) then it will be partially covered to just use a private therapist.

In terms of healthcare, like others have said, the big question will be whether you are eligible for OHIP or not, which will likely depend on the type of visa you have. If you are not eligible, then presumably you will need private coverage from the US. If you are eligible, there is a 3 month waiting period. Once you get OHIP, it will cover most of your basic healthcare needs with no additional fees. It covers family dr as well as all specialists. Many specialists will have a wait period and typically need a referral from a family dr. Also, most companies will offer their employees additional private group insurance policies. Some fully cover the cost, some share the cost with the employees. It's not typically a huge amount, though. This will cover dental and other things like therapists which are not covered by OHIP.

If you have questions about specific areas of the city, feel free to PM me and I can tell you what I know about those areas.

05-26-2014, 01:02 PM
I will also add, do not expect to do much online shopping while in Canada if that's something you do a lot of. It's getting better, but the extent of online shopping in Canada is severely limited compared to the US.

Also, in Ottawa, where my family is, finding a family doctor is difficult, and none of my friends use a pediatrician, just a regular family doctor which is sometimes an issue.

I agree, that red shirting is pretty uncommon, and you'd be best to talk to the specific school, you do not want him in JK/SK split...which brings up another point, Canada loves it's split grades..here in IL I don't know any split grades, but my friends who teach and have kids in Ontario schools encounter it all the time, so don't be surprised.

The school year is longer in Canada, by about 15 days. They start after Labour Day (note the spelling) and end at the very end of June. Most schools do not serve hot lunches, everyone brown bags it, at the elementary level anyway.

05-27-2014, 08:03 PM
I will also add, do not expect to do much online shopping while in Canada if that's something you do a lot of. It's getting better, but the extent of online shopping in Canada is severely limited compared to the US.

That depends on where you live :) I cross into the US once a week to pick up my American online purchases. Today it was my Zulily order and my Amazon order ;)

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05-27-2014, 09:52 PM
Somehow, I manage to do an awful lot of online shopping without leaving the country :)

05-27-2014, 10:38 PM
Somehow, I manage to do an awful lot of online shopping without leaving the country :)

Yes, so do I! :)

09-12-2014, 09:34 AM
OP, wondering if you moved..and if they put your DS in 1st grade. My good friends moved to Ontario and their son who has a December birthday was placed in 4th grade even though he was going into 3rd here in Illinois. His aunt and uncle are both teachers there as well as his grandma who is also on the board of education and they all felt he should go into 4th due to the fact that nobody redshirts and he'd be off by a year for all sports etc. My friend (who is also from Ontario) was skeptical but they placed him in a 3/4 split and if need be will place him back in 3rd. It's only been a few weeks so she isn't sure how it's going, but so far so good.