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Parental Guide to Moving to Canada

For any parent planning to move to Canada, there will be many things that need to be taken into consideration, such as your children’s school enrollment, daycare, as well as child-friendly activities that your little ones can take part in. In this ultimate parental guide to moving to Canada, we’ll take a look at what this entails and much more.

Education

apple on stack of books education | moving to Canada as a family

Canada’s education system is one of the highest-ranked globally and is currently ranked in the top 10 countries worldwide and third among the wealthiest countries. Choosing the best school for your children is probably on your list of priorities, so to help you out we’ve listed some of the top secondary schools in Canada to consider enrolling your children in.

Early Childhood Services includes Kindergarten and educational programming for children as young as two years and eight months.

Pre-Kindergarten

This is for children that need additional support before starting Kindergarten, such as learning English as a second language.

Kindergarten

Children need to be at least five years old to start Kindergarten.

School Hours

School hours usually run from 8am to 3pm or 9am to 4pm from Monday to Friday.

School Terms

This differs depending on the territory or province you’re in but usually starts in September and ends in June. There is usually a two-week break over Christmas in December as well as in March.

Top Schools in Canada

Below are the top 10 elementary and secondary schools in Canada based on Fraser Institute's 2021 School Rankings.


Top Elementary Schools in Canada
SchoolScore
Alberta
1. Menno Simons Christian8.9
2. Briar Hill8.7
3. Calgary Christian8.7
4. ClearWater9
5. Holy Name9.4
6. Calgary French and International8.9
7. Rundle College9.3
8. Westmount9.3
9. Killarney9.7
10. Hillhurst9.3
11. Sunalta9.6
British Columbia
1. York House10
2. Corpus Christi10
3. Crofton House10
4. Holy Cross10
5. Vancouver Christian9.9
6. Our Lady of Sorrows10
7. West Point Grey10
8. St. Andrews10
9. St. Francis Xavier10
10. Vancouver College10
11. St George’s10
Ontario
1. Cottingham Junior Public school9.2
2. Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School9
3. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School9.2
4. Rosedale Junior Public School9.9
5. St. Michael’s Choir (JR) School9.3
6. Whitney Junior Public School10
7. École élémentaire Gabrielle-Roy10
8. Montrose Street Junior Public School8.8
9. Deer Park Junior Public School8.8
10. Balmy Beach Community School8.8
11. Courcelette Public School8.9
12. Holy Rosary Catholic School8.9
13. Island Public/Natural Science School8.9


Top Secondary Schools in Canada
SchoolScore
Alberta
1. Menno Simons Christian8.9
2. Briar Hill8.7
3. Calgary Christian8.7
4. ClearWater9
5. Holy Name9.4
6. Calgary French and International8.9
7. Rundle College9.3
8. Westmount9.3
9. Killarney9.7
10. Hillhurst9.3
11. Sunalta9.6
British Columbia
1. York House10
2. Corpus Christi10
3. Crofton House10
4. Holy Cross10
5. Vancouver Christian9.9
6. Our Lady of Sorrows10
7. West Point Grey10
8. St. Andrews10
9. St. Francis Xavier10
10. Vancouver College10
11. St George’s10
Ontario
1. Cottingham Junior Public school9.2
2. Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School9
3. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School9.2
4. Rosedale Junior Public School9.9
5. St. Michael’s Choir (JR) School9.3
6. Whitney Junior Public School10
7. École élémentaire Gabrielle-Roy10
8. Montrose Street Junior Public School8.8
9. Deer Park Junior Public School8.8
10. Balmy Beach Community School8.8
11. Courcelette Public School8.9
12. Holy Rosary Catholic School8.9
13. Island Public/Natural Science School8.9

Choosing the Right Area

aerial view of residential houses | moving to Canada as a family

Choosing the right area for your family to live in not only affects your work opportunity and affordability but also where your children can go to school. According to Maclean's, below are the top communities in Canada for families. 


Top 5 Communities in Canada for Families
Region/Province/TerritoryCity
1. Atlantic CanadaRothesay, New Brunswick
2. QuebecBlainville
3. PrairiesHanover, Manitoba
4. AlbertaSt. Alberta
5. British ColumbiaOak Bay

These cities are considered the most family-friendly cities in Canada overall. 

Best Education: Ottawa, Ontario

With the highest number of graduates in the country, Ottawa is the best city if you intend on living in a community that has such a phenomenal graduation rate of 31.5 percent.

Best Employment Rate: Guelph, Ontario

Guelph not only has phenomenal support for mothers but some of the lowest food costs in the country. It has the highest employment rate in Canada which means that the likelihood of you finding a job is quite high.

Best Family Income: Calgary, Alberta

Calgary is not only a very popular choice among foreigners, which means that their expat community is quite substantive. It also offers incredible earning potential, with an average annual family household income of $132,568! 

Most Affordable: Brandon, Manitoba

Brandon offers some of the lowest real estate prices in the country. You could end up paying as little as $350,000 for your first home! Monthly household costs averages at $4,580 and with the average family bringing in $90,226, you’ll have more than enough to save up for that family vacation you’ve been dreaming of!

Small Town Coastal Charm: St. John’s Newfoundland & Labrador

Looking for a wholesome community with coastal charm? St John’s is another Canadian-Atlantic city that is great for raising kids. They’ll get plenty of fresh air and you can enjoy considerably low monthly household costs.

Social Opportunities

families having a picnic in the park | moving to Canada as a family

When first arriving in a new country it can be quite difficult to meet other families or receive the support that you need. Canada, however, has various different support groups and social platforms for new families in Canada. Below are some useful links to resources to help you settle into your new life in Canada.

The best place to network as a parent is at your child’s school. Speak to other parents to arrange playdates or find out where some of the best places are when it comes to family entertainment. 

Entertainment

mother and son looking at fish at aquarium | moving to Canada as a family

Moving on to the fun part of our 'Parental Guide to Moving to Canada' - entertainment. Finding places that are not only family-friendly but family-oriented is not always the easiest, especially in a new country. Below are some top places and activities for you and your young ones to enjoy as a family.

  • Niagara Falls - besides the spectacular waterfall, ride the ‘Maid of the mIst’ or ‘Whirlpool Aero Car’
  • Canadian Children’s Museum- the largest museum in Canada designed specifically for children (try The Great Adventure and explore international destinations)
  • Tyrrell Museum - for dinosaur lovers young and old (dig up to make their own fossils)
  • Kid’s Market - This is rated as the top children’s market in British Columbia (visit The Adventure Zone, a four-level indoor playground, Circus Circus or Virtual Ride)
  • Churchill - this city is known as the polar bear capital of the world
  • Fundy National Park - experience the world’s highest waves, over 25 waterfalls, and explore 3 campgrounds, hiking, and biking trails
  • Pacific National Exhibition - located in British Columbia, visit Canada’s oldest amusement park, Playland
  • Wonderland - this is Canada’s largest amusement park
  • Whistler - British Columbia’s prime ski resort
  • Fallsview Indoor Waterpark - Ontario’s oasis of waterslides, indoor wave pools, and man-made beach
  • West Edmonton Mall - as one of the largest shopping malls in the world, ride the largest indoor roller coaster in the world, splash about in the water park or visit the skatepark.
  • Mill River Fun Park - Prince Edward Islands summer amusement park complete with pirate ship, bumper boats, water slides, and swimming pool
  • The Enchanted Forest - a magical location filled with fairies, dwarfs, castles, and dragons
  • CN Tower - one of the tallest buildings in Canada (try the Skywalk for unbelievable views)
  • Victoria Butterfly Gardens - a tropical garden filled with exotic butterflies
  • Ripley's Aquarium of Canada - 5.7 million liters of freshwater and marine life from all over the world
  • Calypso Park - largest theme waterpark in Canada

Childcare Options

children playing with toys in classroom | moving to Canada as a family

Finding affordable and reliable childcare services is not always the easiest, especially if you are from another country. Four of Canada’s 11 provinces have provincially set rates; Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba as well as Newfoundland and Labrador. The average cost of childcare in Canada is around $988.31 for a full day per month per child. Below are the prices of some childcare options in each province or territory in Canada. 


Childcare Costs for Infants
Province/TerritoryFull-Day Childcare CentreFamily/Home Childcare Centre
Alberta$1,025 - $1,350$750 - $920
British Columbia$825 - $1,283$850 - $1,275
Manitoba$651$482
New Brunswick$846 - $8680 - $760
Newfoundland & Labrador$955$1,085
Northwest Territories$1,150$1,085
Nova Scotia$960$868
Nunavut$1,300$1,411
Ontario$868 - $1,934$895 - $1,253
Prince Edward Island$738$738
Quebec$179$179
Saskatchewan$890 - $1,000$800 - $805
Yukon$900$938


Childcare Costs for Toddlers
Province/TerritoryFull-Day Childcare CentreFamily/Home Childcare Centre
Alberta$900 - $1,175$650 - $880
British Columbia$825 - $1,283$850 - $1,275
Manitoba$451$395
New Brunswick$716 - $728$651 - $760
Newfoundland & Labrador$716$977
Northwest Territories$990$1,085
Nova Scotia$847$760
Nunavut$1,213$1,302
Ontario$749 - $1,580$937 - $1,139
Prince Edward Island$608$608
Quebec$179$179
Saskatchewan$680 - $800$700 - $760
Yukon$850$750


Childcare Costs for Preschool
Province/TerritoryFull-Day Childcare CentreFamily/Home Childcare Centre
Alberta$830 - $1,075$700 - $830
British Columbia$800 - $955$800 - $1,290
Manitoba$451$395
New Brunswick$664 - $722$651 - $716
Newfoundland & Labrador$660$868
Northwest Territories$760$1,085
Nova Scotia$861$760
Nunavut$1,213$1,302
Ontario$662 - $1,280$938 - $1,139
Prince Edward Island$586$586
Quebec$179$179
Saskatchewan$615 - $740$650 - $700
Yukon$850$750

Healthcare

healthcare mother holding baby’s hand| moving to Canada as a family

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Canada have access to Medicare, free of charge. Medicare is Canada’s renowned public healthcare system. What most newcomers are unaware of, however, is that in some provinces it could take up to three months before your healthcare benefits kick in. It is, therefore, a good idea to have health insurance to cover you and your family for that period of time.

You may also consider taking out private additional health cover as Medicare does not cover the cost of prescription medication and eyeglasses, ambulance costs, and dental work, among other medical services. 

Each province or territory has its own healthcare system.

Get a Head Start with Learning the Language

school child putting hand in long distance learning class | moving to Canada as a family

Canada has two official languages; English and French. To give your child the boost they need, why not enroll them in extra English or French lessons? It will only stand them in good stead and the earlier they start, the easier it will be for your children to pick up a new language. 

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