Making friends in your new community can be difficult, but it will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your new life! Here are some suggestions to help you meet people and make friends around the community:
- Volunteer in the community. The Volunteer Centre St. Lawrence Rideau offers many opportunities to volunteer. By volunteering in your community, you can make new friends, learn skills, gain work experience, build self-esteem, improve your health, and sometimes find paying jobs.
- Attend a Newcomers Club meeting.
- Contact a local ethnocultural group. These groups meet regularly to socialize, and share and celebrate their cultural heritage.
- Attend and participate at a local place of worship.
Join in the fun and participate in one of the many events and festivals that happen every year in our wonderful communities of Leeds & Grenville!
Health and Medical Services
ONTARIO HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN
Ontario has a publicly-funded health care system which is available through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). All residents of Ontario, including those of permanent resident status, are guaranteed access to essential medical services through OHIP. Some other immigrant classes can receive medical services through OHIP as well.
For detailed information about OHIP visit www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/ohip/brochure.pdf or call ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-866-532-3161.
OHIP pays for services that are medically necessary only. Services covered include visits to family doctors and specialists. A full list of health services covered by OHIP is available online. OHIP does not pay for prescription medicines or non-essential medical services, such as treatment by a chiropractor or naturopaths. For services not covered by OHIP, you might want to purchase additional health insurance. You can find a Guide to supplementary health insurance in Ontario on the Settlement.org website.
You should apply for OHIP coverage as soon as possible after your arrival in Canada. You must wait approximately three months before coverage begins. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care offers information on this three-month waiting period. Settlement.org’s website offers information on how to finance health services during your first three months in Ontario.
PLEASE NOTE: Each member of your family including children must have their own OHIP card. Health care service providers will validate your OHIP card each time you visit them. It is important to carry your health card at all times.
Family Doctors or General Practitioners (GPs) are usually the first clinicians to see a patient. A family doctor provides all basic health care, including treating you when you are sick and encouraging preventative health care. Health Care Connect is a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) program that helps Ontarians find a family health care provider if they don’t have one. The program refers people without a regular family health care provider to physicians and nurse practitioners who are accepting new patients in their community.
To register for the Health Care Connect program, call 1-800-445-1822, or for more information, visit the MOHLTC website: http://health.gov.on.ca/en/ms/healthcareconnect/public/.
Telehealth is a free, confidential 24-hour service provided by the Government of Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Calls are answered by qualified, registered nurses to assist with health advice or information. The nurses will not diagnose your illness or give you medicine. They will direct you to the most appropriate level of care, or may put you in contact with a health professional who can advise you on your next steps. Telehealth service is provided in English or French and translation support in some other languages. 1-866-797-0000.
Hospitals and Emergencies
There are two hospitals in Leeds Grenville. Hospitals provide care to patients who are staying in the hospital, patients with appointments at clinics in the hospital and emergency cases. If you have a medical emergency, you may go directly to one of these hospitals, with your OHIP card and photo ID (examples: a driver’s license or permanent resident card). You may also dial 911 for emergency service and assistance. 911 service is free of charge, although you may be charged a fee if you have to be taken to the hospital by ambulance.
Brockville General Hospital
75 Charles Street Brockville, ON K6V 1S8
Organizations in Leeds Grenville that can help if you or your family have problems with mental health and/or addictions:
Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health
Brockville (Main Office)
25 Front Ave. W
Brockville, Ontario K6V 4J2
Kemptville District Hospital
2675 Concession Road Kemptville, ON K0G 1J0
Children’s Mental Health of Leeds & Grenville
Children’s Mental Health of Leeds & Grenville is dedicated to serving the mental health needs of children, youth and their families. No professional referral is required. Children 12 and over may self-refer. Programs and services are free, accessible, and confidential.
779 Chelsea Street, Suite BU Brockville, ON K6V 6J8
Public health works to protect and improve the health and well-being of people in local communities.
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit with offices in Brockville, Kemptville and Gananoque offers a wide range of services to promote healthy living, healthy growth and development; prevent illness and injury and control communicable diseases in the community. Services are available to individuals and groups of all ages in a variety of places. A referral is not needed for any service.
Brockville Main Office:
458 Laurier Blvd,
Brockville, Ontario K6V 7A3
ADDITIONAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
Dental Services are not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), except for certain dental surgeries done in a hospital. Some employers offer dental plans to their employees. If you do not have an employee dental plan, you can purchase a plan from a private insurance company. Dental plans help people pay for procedures such as cleaning teeth and gums and filling cavities.
A comprehensive eye examination is covered by OHIP once a year for persons under 20 and those 65 and over. OHIP also covers a major eye exam once every 12 months for persons aged 20 – 64 who have medical conditions requiring regular eye exams. Routine eye examinations for patients aged 20 to 64, are not covered by OHIP. These individuals are responsible for payment for these examinations or have the cost covered by private insurance.
Complimentary Health Services
You may choose to seek health care professionals in addition to, or other than your family doctor or specialist. Leeds Grenville has a large number of professionals including Naturopathic Doctors, Registered Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and more. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan doesn’t normally cover expenses associated with these professionals, but most private health care plans do. You can find a professional in your area by searching for the name of the service using Google or checking a phone book or 411 online.
Working parents with young children may need to make arrangements for child care. In general, most families in Canada do not leave children under the age of 12 at home alone.
You may need to ask a family member or pay someone to look after your children while you are at work. There are different options for child care: licensed child care centres, licensed home child care, nursery schools and unlicensed home based child care services.
Licensed Child Care
Anyone who cares for more than five unrelated children under the age of 10 years has to be licensed, by law, in Ontario. Licensed caregivers must meet certain provincial health, safety and caregiver training standards. This type of child care includes licensed child care centres, home-based licensed programs, and before and after school programs.
A list of licensed child care programs in Leeds Grenville is available from the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. Contact them at 613-342-3840 ext. 2122 or 2372, or visit their website: www.leedsgrenville.com/en/live/communityprograms/licensedchildcareprogram.asp.
Financial Support for Families
You may be eligible for a reduced fee for childcare. The reduction is called a subsidy. The Integrated Program Delivery Department of the United Counties of Leeds Grenville determines eligibility for child care fee subsidy in Leeds Grenville.
Child Care subsidies are available for children ranging in age from infant to 12 years of age, where the parent(s) is/ are employed or enrolled in an educational or re-training program. Subsidy is also available to children with special needs who have been identified by social agencies or medical professionals. Child Care Fee Subsidy assistance is only available to families choosing to licensed child care options.
You must meet with staff at the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville to apply to receive a subsidy. For additional information contact the United Counties at 613-342-3840
Unlicensed Home Child Care
Unlicensed child care services are private arrangements between parents and a caregiver. This group of caregivers is not regulated. That means they do not have to meet provincial health, safety, and caregiver training standards. Examples of this kind of child care providers are babysitters, family members and live-in caregivers (or nannies).
The federal government of Canada has two programs that provide financial support for families raising children: the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). To find out if you qualify and how to apply for the UCCB and CCTB, go to www.cra.gc.ca/bnfts or call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at 1-800-387-1193. You can also visit a Service Canada office. Service Canada has offices in Brockville, Kemptville, Gananoque and Prescott.
Toll free: 1-800-622-6232
Ontario Child Benefits – If you are eligible, the Ontario Child Benefit will be included with the Canada Child Tax Benefit and National Child Benefit Supplement monthly payments. For the most recent information on Child Benefits visit www.cra.gc.ca/bnfts (Government of Canada) or www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/financialhelp/ocb/what.aspx (Government of Ontario).
DRIVING IN ONTARIO
To drive in Ontario (and the rest of Canada), it is the law that you must have a valid driver’s license. You must carry the license with you whenever you drive on public roads. Information on the following topics: driver testing, license types, how to apply for a driver’s license in Ontario and a list of test fees may be found on the DriveTest website: www.drivetest.ca/EN/licencing/Pages/Getting-and-Ontario-Driver%27s-Licence.aspx.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation website (www.ontario.ca/page/driving-and-roads) will help you learn more about renewing a driver’s license, replacing a lost or stolen license, reinstating a suspended license, changing information on a driver’s license, demerit point system, graduated licensing and getting a driving record.
License Plates & Validation Stickers
If you have a car from another country or province, you have 30 days to register it in Ontario. You must register your vehicle before you will be issued Ontario license plates. To register your vehicle, go to the Driver and Vehicle License Issuing Office, operated through Service Ontario. To find the Service Ontario office nearest to you, consult their website, www.serviceontario.ca, or call their toll-free phone number
License plates are renewed annually, on the vehicle owner’s birthday. Owners of vehicles are mailed a renewal application approximately 60 days before the current sticker expires. You can complete the renewal online, or at any Service Ontario location.
Ontario law requires that all motorists have auto insurance. Fines for vehicle owners, lessees, and drivers who do not carry valid auto insurance can range from $5,000 to $50,000. If you are found driving without valid auto insurance, you can have your driver’s licence suspended and your vehicle impounded.
You may purchase auto insurance from insurance companies or an insurance broker. Visit the Ontario government website for information regarding the rules and regulations for car insurance in Ontario. It is essential to understand the province’s mandatory requirements and limitations. Website: www.fsco.gov.on.ca/en/auto/brochures/Pages/brochure_autoins.aspx#a1.
When you are ready to buy car insurance, comparison shopping is very important. Prices, features and benefits vary widely from company to company. You can find insurance companies through the phone book or an Internet search.
The City of Brockville operates a bus transit system for travel within the city. For more information, including bus fares and schedules, visit the city website: www.brockville.com/transit.
There are many taxi (cab) companies offering transportation in Leeds Grenville. For a fee, they will pick you up and then drive you to where you want to go. The fare appears on a meter in the front of the cab, beside the driver.
The VIA rail train station is located at 141 Perth Street in Brockville. The train travels daily to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
For schedule and fares call the station at 1 888-842-7245 or visit the website: www.viarail.ca.
MegaBus offers daily bus service to Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal, etc.
Visit their website: www.ca.megabus.com or call them at 1-866-488 4452 for schedules and prices.
Rideshares & Carpooling
Kangaride is a private Canadian company that provides a ridesharing platform for posting and booking long-distance rides in North America.
Visit their website: http://www.kangaride.com or call them at 1-855-526-4274 for more information and prices.
BUYING A CAR
There are many decisions to make when purchasing a car. The Ontario government has produced a fact sheet (below) with many tips and questions to help you buy a car www.omvic.on.ca/portal/infographic/index.html.
Connecting with the Community
There are 24 libraries throughout Leeds Grenville offering a wide range of services including free online language learning, lending services for books, magazines, audio CDs, and DVD movies. Many also offer free computer and internet access. There are also many other community groups and programs at our local libraries, including story readings, arts and crafts, art exhibits and events. Most library services are provided free of charge to residents of each municipality.
To borrow items from libraries, you will need a library card. To find a library near you visit www.leedsgrenville.com/en/invest/ouruniqueadvantage/libraries.asp or call your municipal office.
Connecting with the Community
Connecting with others in your new community is an important step in making you feel at home. Here are some ideas to help you meet people and make friends:
Join the Community Connection Program offered by TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants. Through this program, you will be matched with a member of the local community. The two of you will meet regularly (usually once a week) for the purpose of language acquisition, social, cultural and recreational orientation to life in Canada and the sharing of culture and knowledge. Job search support may also be included. For more information contact the TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants aux immigrants office in Brockville 613-342-1127 or toll free in Cornwall: 1-877-412-2472.
Brockville Newcomers Club
This group is open to all new residents of Brockville and area who wish to become involved in social activities. They have monthly meetings and different groups who meet about shared interests such as reading, kayaking, cooking, etc. For more information about the Brockville Newcomers Club visit their website: www.brockvillenewcomersclub.com.
Volunteer in the community
Volunteering is an excellent way to meet people and contribute to your community. There are many places in Leeds Grenville where you can volunteer including schools, not-for-profit organizations and at local festivals and events.
To learn more about volunteering visit The Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau, 105 Strowger Blvd., Brockville, ON K6V 5V2. 613-498-2111, toll free 1-800-926-0777 or visit their website at: www.volunteercentre.ca.
Attend and Participate at a local Place of Worship.
The Leeds Grenville Immigration Portal has information on the many places of worship in Leeds Grenville.
Multiculturalism in The City of Brockville and Leeds Grenville
Brockville and District Multicultural Council is an organization of cultural groups and individuals who aim to work towards a society that ensures and enjoys a strong Canadian identity firmly grounded in the multicultural nature of the population.
The Council organizes an annual Multicultural Festival held in Brockville in May. See the website for information about the Council, various groups and the festival. www.brockvillemulticulturalfestival.com/
The Age-Friendly Brockville initiative, developed by the World Health Organization, provides opportunities for new residents to actively contribute to community projects that optimizes opportunities for health, social inclusion, accessibility and security for all people. www.afbrockville.com
Sports and Recreation
Playing sports is a fun way to meet new people and be physically active. Throughout Leeds Grenville, there are many organized sports leagues for both children and adults. Contact your local municipal office for a listing of organized sports activities. Alternatively, you can call 211, and the service operator can help you find a league for the sport of your interest.
There are also community centres and gyms where you can participate in fitness classes and do other sports-related activities. You can do an online search to discover gyms in your community.
There are several horticultural societies in Leeds Grenville where people attend monthly meetings to learn and share ideas related to gardening.
Athens Garden Club website:
Brockville Horticultural Society website:
North Grenville Horticultural Society website:
There are many trails in Leeds Grenville where you can jog, rollerblade, ride a bicycle, cross-country ski or walk. To find nearby trails, contact your local municipal office or visit the United Counties website at www.leedsgrenville.com/en/visit/planyourtrip/Trails.asp.
Leeds Grenville is also home to the St. Lawrence River and many lakes where you can enjoy swimming, canoeing, kayaking and boating.
YMCA of Brockville and Area
345 Park St, Brockville, ON K6V 5Y7 613-342-7961
Events and Festivals
There are many festivals and events that take place across Leeds Grenville throughout the year. These festivals range from country fairs, to arts and culture, music and dance, food and fun, history, Canada Day, Autumn Festivals and Winter Fun. For a complete list of events and festivals visit www.leedsgrenville.com/en/visit/thingstodo/FestivalsEvents.asp
Arts and Culture
Leeds Grenville is home to many arts and cultural associations as well as professional playhouses which bring a variety of acts to the area.
Brockville Theatre Guild produces one main stage production each year as well as an annual dinner theatre.
Brockville Operatic Society is an amateur theatre group which puts on musicals at the Brockville Arts Centre.
Thousand Islands Arts is a not-for-profit organization which is active in planning and executing cultural events focusing on:
- Opportunities for the artists/artisans within our membership.
- Increasing the membership by attracting new artists/artisans.
The 1000 Islands Playhouse is a community theatre showcasing professional companies and performers in a variety of plays and musicals throughout the year. Gananoque;
The Brockville Arts Centre is one of the best performance theatres in Ontario, and regularly attracts world class entertainers. 235 King Street West, Brockville.
The Brockville Concert Association presents concerts of classical music for the enjoyment of Brockville and the surrounding communities. www.brockvilleconcert.ca
Fort Town Concert Association Prescott presents four concerts each year during the fall and winter seasons, the Fort Town Concert Association is a voluntary community effort dedicated to presenting classical music.
Frontenac Arch Biosphere (FAB) The FAB has an in- credibly rich natural environment and history. It was recognized in 2002 when it became a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, part of a worldwide network of Biosphere reserves. The website provides information on local trails, food, education, heritage, events, camps and many activities in the region. www.frontenacarchbiosphere.ca
The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides Cultural Access passes which entitles new Canadian citizens (during their first year of citizenship), free admission to more than 1000 of Canada’s cultural treasures. Visit the website to learn more about this program. www.icc-icc.ca
Provincial and National Parks
Leeds Grenville is home to a number of provincial and national parks where you can go hiking, camping, swimming, boating, and more. To find a park near you, visit the Parks Canada website at www.pc.gc.ca and the Ontario Parks website at www.ontarioparks.com.
Thousand Island National Park
The municipality of Front of Yonge is home to the Visitors Centre of 1000 Islands National Park and offers parking, boat launch, playground, picnic area, camping and visitor experience centre. It also includes services on 19 islands located throughout the St. Lawrence River. Charleston Lake Provincial Park (Lansdowne) offers swimming, hiking, boat launch and camping.
There are also municipal parks in the communities of Leeds Grenville offering a variety of outdoor activities for people.
The Rideau Heritage Route celebrates the beauty and historical importance of the Rideau River and Rideau Canal. It stretches from Kingston to Ottawa, and includes many of the communities in Leeds Grenville. You may choose to enjoy the route by car, canoe, kayak, bicy- cle, motor boat, or on foot.
Ferguson Forest Center is a not-for-profit tree nursery growing high quality trees and shrubs. They promote fo- rest awareness, conservation and recreation. Their forests feature beautiful trails for hiking and walking, and are open to the public.
Shipwrecks and Scuba Diving
The 1000 Islands area is world famous for shipwrecks and scuba diving. With many historic shipwrecks and clean, clear waters, the area is said to be one of the best fresh water diving sites in the world. Consult your phonebook or do an internet search to find scuba diving tour guide and equipment rental companies.
There are many companies offering boat cruises on the beautiful St. Lawrence River. To learn about schedules and prices contact Rockport Boat Line (www.rockportcruises.com), 1000 Islands Cruises (www.1000islands-cruises.com), or Gananoque Boat Line (www.ganboatline.com).