The City of Ottawa also works with organizations in the community that run programs to support immigrants. The Ottawa Immigration Strategy is a shared plan that describes what over 60 community partners are doing, or plan to do, to make Ottawa a more welcoming city for immigrants.
You’ll find many opportunities to get involved in sports, the arts and other community activities in Ottawa. There are dozens of community centres and recreation centres that organize programs and events. They can provide you with information on upcoming activities in your neighbourhood.
The city’s bicycle and jogging paths, beaches, ski trails, and indoor athletic facilities, allow residents to enjoy an active lifestyle year-round.
There are many parks in the National Capital Region, including several large ones throughout the city. Gatineau Park, located about 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa, has over 36,000 hectares of forest and lakes. City of Ottawa – Parks and Recreation delivers programs and services to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle.
The francophone community has a rich, vibrant, multi-faceted culture. Its dynamism is rooted in its varied activities, as well as in its institutions and organizations, and is evident in every aspect of society, including in the fields of culture, health, justice, the economy and education.
Ontario francophones: who are they?
An inclusive definition
On June 4, 2009, Ontario adopted a new definition regarding the province’s francophone population which better reflects the evolution and diversity of Ontario’s francophone communities. This more inclusive definition of Ontario’s francophones reads as follows:
Those persons whose mother tongue is French, plus those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English but have a particular knowledge of French as an Official Language and use French at home.
"The francophone community wanted a more inclusive definition that better reflects its diversity. This new definition will give the government a more accurate picture of the demand for French-language services across the province and help ministries better plan for the delivery of these services". Madeleine Meilleur, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
It was the French who first explored what is now the province of Ontario, where they established the first missions and trading posts. The first European expedition to Ottawa occurred in 1535, when Jacques Cartier sent one of his ships up the Ottawa River. Étienne Brûlé subsequently explored Ontario between 1610 and 1612.
An initial wave of francophone immigration during the 19th century
The greatest number of francophones, commonly called French-Canadians, arrived during the 19th century. Initially, they settled in the Eastern portion of the province, along the Ottawa River, in Ottawa, Prescott-Russell and Glengarry-Stormont, later gravitating toward the North-East. Various sectors, such as the railways and the farming, forestry and mining industries, afforded opportunities to settle and work in each of these Ontario regions. The Francophone community very quickly organized itself, creating its first institutions and organizations. In 1910, the Association canadienne-française d'éducation de l'Ontario (ACFÉO), which subsequently became the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario (ACFO) and the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario (AFO), came into being.
This was followed by the:
publication of the first issue of Le Droit newspaper in 1913 ;
adoption by the provincial government, in 1912, of Regulation 17, reducing the teaching of French in schools to promote anglicization;
unveiling, in 1975, of the Franco-Ontarian flag, which was officially recognized in 2001;
recognition, in 1979, of the right to a criminal trial in French;
recognition, by the Court of Appeal, of the right of Franco-Ontarians to manage their own schools;
passage of the provincial law guaranteeing access to education in French and the creation, in 1985, of the Office of Francophone Affairs;
passage, in 1986, of the French Language Services Act which came into effect in 1989, guaranteeing services in French in 22 designated areas;
creation of the TV Ontario television channel in 1987, which subsequently became the Office de télécommunications éducatives de langue française de l’Ontario (OTÉLFO – TFO) in 2007;
creation of the first two French-language school boards and establishment of the Réseau francophone des services de garde [French-language day care services network) and the French-language community literacy centres in 1988;
opening of La Cité collégiale in 1990;
demonstration organized by the SOS Montfort movement, which brought together 10,000 people in 1997 and resulted in the constitutional protection of Ottawa's Hôpital Montfort in 2000 and the winning of its case in the Court of Appeal in 2002;
reorganization of French-language education, with the establishment of twelve school boards in 1998;
unveiling, in 2006, of the first Monument de la francophonie,;
creation of the Office of French Language Services Commissioner in 2007;
establishment, in 2007, of a Réseau d’appui à l’immigration [immigration support network] in Eastern Ontario; this network consists of approximately one hundred organizations involved in the intake, settlement and integration of French-speaking immigrants;
Rich in history, heritage and development, the Ottawa francophone community numbers 143,220 people whose first official language is French.
Based on the new definition, Ottawa’s francophone population has increased by 10%.
The data show that 28.4% of anglophones speak both official languages.
38.3% of the population speak both French and English.
The average employment income is higher than that in the rest of Ontario.
Lower than that for the rest of Ontario, the unemployment rate is 5.9% among anglophones and 5.8% among francophones.
The most recent francophone immigrants come primarily from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
23,525 of Ottawa's francophones are members of a visible minority.
After four centuries of evolution, Ontario’s francophone community numbers 582,690, i.e., 4.8% of the total population of the province, and is the second largest francophone community in Canada after Quebec. It should be noted that 41.5% of francophones live in Eastern Ontario.
One individual in twenty in Ontario is francophone.
The population of the francophone community is older than that of Ontario as a whole.
Three francophones in five were born in Ontario, while one in five was born in Quebec.
Approximately 14% of Ontario francophones were born outside Canada.
20% of francophone immigrants arrived in Ontario between 2001 and 2006.
État des lieux de l’immigration d’expression française à Ottawa, Ronald Bisson, Patricia Ahouansou and Charles Draper, October 27, 2009
La francophonie: unique in its vitality
"La francophonie" refers to the French language and the speaking of French, as well as to a vital, dynamic and changing community such as Ottawa’s francophone community.
Regardless of whether its francophone citizens were born in Ottawa, elsewhere in Ontario, other parts of Canada or another country, they are all writing the history of this community - a community enriched by its cultural traditions and history.
The flag is recognized as the emblem of Ontario’s francophone community.
The emblem of Ontario’s francophone community consists of two vertical bands of different colours. The first band is mid green and has a white lily in the middle.
The second band is white and has a mid green trillium in the middle.
On the flag, green represents summer and white represents winter. Together, the colours represent the diversity of Ontario’s climate. The lily symbolizes the international francophone community, while the trillium is the floral emblem of Ontario.
This flag was officially flown for the first time on September 25, 1975, at the Laurentian University in Sudbury. In 2001, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario recognized it as the official Franco-Ontarian emblem.
Song: "Mon beau drapeau", composed by Brian St-Pierre (In French Only)
The Monuments de la francophonie in Ottawa
The Monuments de la francophonie de l'Ontario is a network of historical and heritage gathering sites located throughout the province, featuring historical plaques and an outsize Franco-Ontarian flag measuring 5 m x 10 m.
The francophone difference: services adapted to Ottawa's francophone reality
A short history
On June 15, 1912, the government adopted Regulation 17, which stipulated that English was to be the only language of communication and instruction allowed in the classroom. Teachers were allowed to teach French for only one hour a day. Both the teachers and the Ottawa Separate School Board refused to comply with this regulation and French-Canadians took the appropriate measures to defend their rights. In 1927, French was finally once again approved as a language of instruction in Ontario schools.
Ottawa francophones have access to a French-language school system from kindergarten to the post-secondary level. The diversity for which the francophone community is known enriches the cultural life in the schools, francophone colleges and universities belonging to the French-language education network in Ontario.
By choosing a French-language school in Ottawa, parents ensure that their children learn and enjoy a unique francophone experience, because the schools communicate and promote francophone culture.
"An agent of change and important partner in our society, French-language education (FLE) actively contributes to the development and vitality of francophone communities, which in turn enhances the quality of life for all citizens of Ontario. In light of the ever-growing diversity of Ontario’s population, FLE provides programs and services to welcome and assist all parents who wish to enrol their children in a French school, as well as all students who sign up for post-secondary education programs offered in French."
All schools are grouped by region and directed by school boards managed by the Ministry of Education. There are two French school boards in the Ottawa region, i.e., the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (French Catholic School Board Centre-East) and the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (Eastern Ontario French Public School Board). In addition to being responsible for the planning, construction and operating of schools, these boards are responsible for hiring and supervising all school staff members. The school boards are required to enrol students between the ages of 6 and 21. The students must attend school until age 18.
Both school boards work with Ottawa community organizations to provide other services in the schools, such as the Settlement Workers in Schools program.
Democratically elected every four years, the school board trustees liaise between the boards and the community, in addition to their duties at the board level.
For additional information regarding admission criteria for primary and secondary schools and post-secondary institutions:
Programs and services: from kindergarten to post-secondary
Programs and services for toddlers
For early-learning activities, exploration and play, the French-language school boards offer full-time junior and senior kindergarten programs, starting at age 4.
Ottawa has 58 programs and services for toddlers.
In addition, some school boards offer or will soon be offering programs for children aged 3.
Most children attend their neighbourhood primary school. Primary school (also called elementary school) begins with kindergarten and ends with Grade 8.
There are 42 francophone primary schools in Ottawa.
The school works with the parents to determine the grade in which their child should be enrolled.
There are four levels in the thirteen francophone secondary schools in Ottawa, i.e., Grades 9 to 12.
There are many post-secondary education programs available in French in Ottawa, offered by four different institutions.
Located in the city’s core, the University of Ottawa offers learners a comprehensive range of academic programs in French and English.
Federated with the University of Ottawa, Saint-Paul University offers programs in Human Sciences, Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law in small, customized classes.
Dominican University College: This university college offers four categories of programs, i.e., in Arts and Sciences, Philosophy, Human Sciences and Theology.
La Cité collégiale is Ottawa’s francophone college. It has two campuses: the main campus, on Aviation Parkway, and the Campus Alphonse-Desjardins - Centre des métiers Minto, in the Orleans district. The college offers a variety of full-time programs of study and specializes in the fields of health, communications and skilled trades.
SOS Devoirs (homework assistance)
SOS Devoirs is a homework assistance service for students in Grades 1 to 12 in French-language schools.
Le Relais is a "Programme d’appui à la lutte contre le décrochage scolaire" [Dropout Prevention Program] – Educational (homework assistance), recreational and preventive activities (QOP).
Continuing, adult and special education
Continuing and adult education
Continuing and adult education programs are available free of charge at Éducation permanente and École des adultes Le Carrefour for young people who wish to return to school and obtain their Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), adult learners who must acquire skills essential to their personal or professional development, workers who have been laid off and who wish to upgrade their skills to increase their chances of finding another job, and newcomers who need to improve their language skills or to complete their studies.
The Centre Moi j'apprends is a community organization that enables francophone adults in Ottawa to participate in the social, cultural and economic life of their community. Its programs enable adults to acquire basic reading, writing, mathematics and computer skills in order to communicate more effectively, more easily integrate into the job market and improve their quality of life. (In French Only)
The Centre Jules-Léger
The mission of the Centre Jules-Léger is to provide students with severe learning disabilities, who have been diagnosed with attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, and/or who are blind, deaf or deafblind, with a learning environment allowing them to develop to their full personal, intellectual, linguistic, cultural, spiritual, social and emotional potential. Two schools fulfil this mandate: theÉcole d'applicationserves in various capacities, i.e., as a demonstration school and residence, in addition to providing training and consultation services, and the École provinciale, which provides quality educational programs to deaf, hearing impaired, blind or deafblind Ontario francophone children for whom no appropriate programs are available in their communities. (In French Only)
Élargir l’espace francophone
Élargir l’espace francophone is a collaborative effort involving the community, private, government and French-language education sectors to ensure the development of the francophone environment, as well as the dynamism and long-term survival of French-speaking communities. (In French Only)
Economy and employability
The Ottawa economy and job market
Many employers are looking for francophone employees who are bilingual. Fluency in both official languages is a valuable asset to job seekers.
National Occupation Classification– is a publication which provides information on the current trends and future outlook for 190 occupations common to Ontario. It is a joint effort of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and Service Canada – Ontario region.
Working in Canada – is the primary Government of Canada source for information regarding the job market. It provides free, authorized information regarding trades and careers, including educational requirements, primary responsibilities, salary levels, current trends and job outlook.
www.tosucceed.ca – On this site, job seekers will find all of the tools necessary to make a career change, prepare a résumé, find information regarding the job market, have a successful interview and secure employment. Newcomers will find the support necessary for their integration, while ODSP recipients will find assistance geared toward their particular needs. Employers can post their job opportunities free of charge and receive financial assistance for the hiring and training of new employees.
www.francopartage.ca - A site providing employment resources for francophones; these resources are supplied by site members, who are located throughout Ontario. It allows correspondence with the members and question and answer sessions. Short career videos are also available.
Thousands of people start businesses each year. Regardless of whether they do so alone or as part of a group, they must be entrepreneurial to succeed.
There are a variety of options when choosing a business structure, i.e., a private company (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation), a collective enterprise (non-profit organizations and cooperatives).
Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs): Small- and medium-sized businesses are businesses of varying sizes; however, in Canada, they must generally have no more than 500 employees or assets in excess of $25 million. The Government of Canada classifies them into four categories:
Micro-enterprise: 1 - 4 employees
Small business: 5-49 employees
Medium-sized business: 100-499 employees
Large business: 500 employees or more
For more information on how to start a business, visit the “Starting a business” section of this Portal.
Volunteers offer their services without remuneration. The desire to help others is a traditional value of Canadian society. Volunteering can help people:
acquire work experience in Canada;
become acquainted with the Canadian workplace;
practise their English and French;
make friends and acquaintances;
obtain references in Canada;
hear about job opportunities;
assume new responsibilities and develop new skills.
Volunteering can also open the door to paid employment. Most prospective employers will ask about Canadian work experience. Working as a volunteer is an excellent means of acquiring Canadian experience and meeting people who can be used as references. A growing number of employers consider volunteering a valid component of a candidate’s work history.
How to find volunteering opportunities: contact a community organization, through a friend or an intake and settlement counsellor.
For information regarding États généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa, please visit Je rêve Ottawa web site. (In French Only) The Summit summary is also available. The follow-up will be carried out by ACFO.
The goal of the Citizens Academy is to educate and empower citizens by giving them the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to actively participate in their community. The Academy focuses on bringing together groups, people and organizations from every sector in Ottawa.
The Hôpital Montfort is Ontario’s Francophone academic health science centre, offering exemplary person-centred care in both official languages. With its main partners, the University of Ottawa and La Cité college, as well as other post-secondary programs, Montfort is preparing the next generation of Francophone healthcare professionals. Montfort is striving to become your hospital of reference for outstanding services, designed with you and for you.
To find an organization that provides health care services in French:
211 Ontario - A tool for finding government and community agencies providing health care services in French. Search by service or using a key word and location.
Ottawa Community Information Centre - Six tools to search for services offered in the Eastern and South-Eastern Ontario counties and a French-language directory for the City of Ottawa. Search using key words, organization name or subject, with the option of specifying the city or area.
Établissement.org - A tool for finding French-language services in Ontario, including health care services. Search by region or city, by service or using a key word.
Champlainhealthline.ca - Directory of facilities providing health care services in the Champlain region; classified by service category (services provided in English and French)
Champlain LHIN - List of all Champlain LHIN health care providers; organized according to geographic area (services provided in French and English).
To find a health care professional who provides services in French:
(click on the links to access the web sites)
Health Care Connect - Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Program designed to help people find a family doctor.
Cliquez santé- Tool for finding information regarding French-language health care and social services professionals in Ontario. Search by service and by postal code.
Doctor Search - Research tool on the web site of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Search for information regarding physicians, pediatricians and specialists using various criteria, including language of service (tool for searching for information regarding health care professionals providing services in French), area of specialization and location. In English only.
Champlainhealthline.ca - Various tools for finding information regarding health care professionals in the Champlain region.
Obtaining an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card
Application for Ontario Health Insurance must be made upon arrival in Ontario. Generally speaking, there is a three-month waiting period between the date of arrival and the date the card is issued.
For additional information regarding health care: in the event of an emergency, family physicians, hospitals, walk-in clinics, community resource and health centres, etc.
The Ottawa region has a variety of financial institutions which provide services in French. Some institutions have branches which offer services in languages other than French and English.
To learn more about banking, visit the “Banking” section of this Portal.
Ottawa has a wide range of housing options and prices with many distinct neighbourhoods. For more information about buying or renting an apartment or home, visit the “Finding a Place to Stay” and “Housing” sections of this portal.
Ottawa Community Housing
Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) provides and manages safe, quality, affordable housing for low- and middle-income households. As the largest subsidized housing provider, it works with its tenants and community partners to promote the development of healthy, safe, diverse, sustainable communities. For additional information regarding housing at market rates and subsidized housing.
Housing assistance services
For information on how to access subsidized or affordable housing, visit Action-Housing or Housing Help, both are charitable organizations devoted to assisting, in both French and English, low-income individuals and families to find and maintain safe, affordable, adequate rental housing.
Residents of housing co-operatives are members of the co-op society that owns the units. The cooperative rents housing to members, but the members do not own their units. The members are active participants in the planning, design and day-to-day administration of the co-operative. Anyone can request accommodation in a housing co-operative and such co-operatives accommodate people of all backgrounds and cultures. Some co-operatives focus on particular groups, such as francophones.
How to apply?
Once the co-operatives of interest have been selected, it is important to communicate with each to obtain information regarding membership procedures and be placed on their waiting list.
For additional, on-line, information regarding vacant co-op housing, visit: The Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario (CHASEO) website.
List of francophone or bilingual housing co-operatives in Ottawa
Coopérative d’habitation Coté Est
Coopérative d’habitation L’Auberge
Coopérative d’habitation Beausoleil
Coopérative d’habitation Brébeuf
Coopérative d’habitation de LaSalle
Coopérative d’habitation d'app. Desjardins
Coop Côte de Sable / Sandy Hill Housing Co-operative
Coopérative d’habitation St. Georges / St. Georges Housing Co-operative
Finding a child care centre consistent with household income and needs is one of the primary concerns of parents with young children. It is a difficult task which can take a great deal of time and must be planned well in advance, as licensed child care centres in Ontario are in great demand and have long waiting lists.
There are basically two types of child care services in Ontario:
Licensed child care services, which have a government-issued operating permit.
Unlicensed child care services, also known as informal child care, whose suppliers are not required to obtain an operating permit, provided that they care for no more than 5 children under the age of 10 to whom they are not related, for example: private arrangements between parents and a care provider hired to look after their children. Child care services of this nature are not regulated and are not eligible for subsidies.
To find the right child care centre
Check the on-line guide to licensed child care services in Ontario posted on the Ministry of Education web site to search by city, postal code, program type, etc.
There are a number of French-language media in Ottawa.
Le Droit is a popular French-language daily published in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, which is circulated in eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Valley. It can also be purchased in Montreal, as well as in other Quebec and Ontario regions. (In French Only)
L’Express published on Thursday, is available free of charge at French-language schools and approximately one hundred newsstands. It covers the City of Ottawa from east to west, i.e., from Cumberland to Kanata, including Orleans, Gloucester and Nepean. L'Express focuses on news from the francophone schools, the Franco-Ontarian cultural scene and the various community stakeholders (service clubs, parishes, local politics). (In French Only)
Two student newspapers are published at the colleges and universities, i.e., La Rotonde (the University of Ottawa French-language paper) and Cité Collégiale’s SagaCité. (In French Only)
TFO: The Office des télécommunications éducatives de langue française de l’Ontario (OTÉLFO - commonly known as TFO) began broadcasting on April 1, 2007. A producer and distributor of television programs, TFO has been recognized as a vital institution for the Ontario francophone community. In addition, TFO promotes the French reality in Ontario and elsewhere through quality educational and cultural multimedia content and services. (In French Only)
Rogers – community television channel 23: Rogers believes in the importance of television in bringing together the members of a community like yours. This is why Rogers has been investing in the ongoing development of TV Rogers for more than 40 years.
A number of community organizations and institutions produce newsletters. These communication tools are effective in promoting the activities and initiatives of Ottawa’s francophone community.
Culture and the arts: hallmarks of vitality!
As both the National Capital and a city with a unique local culture, Ottawa is a vibrant city of arts and culture. Ottawa truly has something for everyone, including national museums, local cultural spaces, lively neighbourhoods, and numerous festivals, fairs and events taking place all year round.
Some of the offerings tailored to francophones are:
The Nouvelle Scène in Ottawa plays host to four professional theatre companies offering theatrical productions in French – the Théâtre du Trillium, the Théâtre de la Vieille 17, Vox Théâtre and the Théâtre la Catapulte. There are also many community and school theatres. (In French Only)
The Shenkman Arts Centre provides space for performing arts presentations and visual art exhibitions, as well as space for instruction in a variety of arts. It offers services and programs in both English and French.
Each year, the Festival franco-ontarien returns with music and song to celebrate what the francophone community was, is and will be. Shows, events/activities, booths and more - where passion and pride are everywhere to be found!
For more than 30 years, the Mouvement d'implication francophone d'Orléans (MIFO) has been showcasing francophone culture and promoting cultural expression in the Orleans community. The MIFO is a multidisciplinary centre offering a variety of artistic, cultural and community programs and services in French. An integral part of the community, the MIFO is the most important Franco-Ontarian cultural centre.
The Clinique juridique francophone de l’Est d’Ottawa is part of the Vanier Community Service Centre. It primarily serves the francophones in East Ottawa regarding the following legal areas: immigration, tenant rights, and income maintenance (social assistance, ODSP, employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan). Its telephone number is 613 744-2892, ext. 1111.
The Clinique juridique also provides legal advice via its Legal information Line: 1 877 500-4508.
The Clinique juridique can organize legal workshops for organizations and community members.
For additional information regarding the Clinique juridique francophone, visit the VCSC web site.
"On May 9, 2001, Ottawa City Council enacted the Bilingualism Policy which reaffirms its commitment to offer services in the two official languages to residents and staff. The Bilingualism Policy is both practical and flexible in its approach. The Bilingualism Policy’s provisions govern several features of civic activity, notably communications, the proactive delivery of services in both languages to citizens and staff, work organization, including designation of positions, language training, and cultural program management."
The French Language Services Branch (FLSB), which falls under the City Manager office, was created in May 2001 following City Council's enactment of the Bilingualism Policy. The FLSB is responsible for working with the municipal administration to ensure the implementation of the Bilingualism Policy. It ensures that the various City Departments proactively offer French-language services to residents and staff. In addition, the FLSB coordinates the provision of translation services.
French Language Services Act - Provincial Government
For almost thirty years, the French Language Services Act, 1986 (FLSA) (Bill 8) has guaranteed the right to services in French from the Government of Ontario ministries and agencies in 25 designated areas.
Thanks to the French Language Services Act, all services offered to the public by government ministries and agencies (driver’s licenses, birth certificates, information, etc.) are available in French in government offices in or serving a designated area.
The Canadian government became officially bilingual in 1968.
The purpose of the Official Languages Act is to:
ensure respect for English and French, their equality of status and equal rights and privileges regarding their use in federal institutions;
support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities;
advance the equal status and use of English and French.
The Act applies to federal institutions, i.e., offices, Crown corporations and federal departments. In addition, certain organizations, such as Air Canada and VIA Rail, retained their language obligations after they were privatized.
According to Section 4: Parliamentarians and the public have the right to use either English or French in Parliament. For its part, Parliament is required to provide simultaneous interpretation of its debates and other proceedings.
According to Sections 5 to 13: All acts of Parliament are enacted, printed and published in both official languages. In addition, federal institutions that, pursuant to an act, are required to publish public notices must do so in both English- and French-language publications.
According to Sections 14 to 20: In civil proceedings before federal courts other than the Supreme Court, everyone has the right to be heard by a judge who understands the official language chosen for the proceedings without the assistance of an interpreter. Federal Courts include the Federal Court, the Tax Court of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
According to Sections 39 and 40: The Government agrees to ensure that English- and French-speaking Canadians have equal opportunities for employment and advancement in federal institutions.
N.B.: The Official Languages Act does not apply to provincial and municipal governments or private businesses.
For more information about your rights and responsibilities, visit the “Legal system” section of this Portal.
Immigration supports to francophone communities
Information for Francophone newcomers
In addition to disseminating information regarding Ontario as a whole by region, settlement.org provides detailed information regarding citizenship and immigration including, housing, jobs, health and education.
The CESOC/ESCOC coaches francophone immigrants, helps them prepare a settlement plan and provides them with the services they need throughout the process. The CESOC/ESCOC also works to promote the socioeconomic development of francophone immigrants, as well as the creation of a multi-faceted francophone community, while respecting the rights of francophones in general and the rights of francophone ethnocultural and racial minorities in particular.
Vanier Community Service Centre
The Vanier Community Service Centre (VCSC) offers a free settlement program service to assist Ottawa’s newcomers with their integration. The Centre focuses on improving the quality of life, promoting the full potential and developing the independence of the individuals, organizations and communities with which it is collaborating. The VCSC promotes social equity as a means of developing a healthy and happy society.
Ottawa has many specialized agencies that are available to help new immigrants and their families to settle and integrate into the community. Most of these services are offered free of charge and many are available in multiple languages. Agencies also help direct newcomers to the services they need. For more information, visit the “Settlement Services” section of this Portal.
Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’est de l’ontario
The Réseau does not provide services to newcomers directly. Its mandate is to facilitate a process of local dialogue and encourage partnerships in developing projects to facilitate the integration of francophone immigrants.
Cost of living
Ottawa’s diverse neighbourhoods
Ottawa has a wide range of housing options and prices with many distinct neighbourhoods.
Downtown Ottawa has houses and many high-rise and low-rise apartments and condominiums.
In central neighbourhoods such as the Glebe or Westboro, there is a mix of housing, including semi-detached and single-family houses, as well as smaller apartment buildings.
Neighbourhoods in the suburbs, which are neighbourhoods outside the downtown core, have semi-detached and single-family houses, as well as townhouses.
Google offers a map of Canada that you can use to zoom in and find an area or a neighbourhood of Ottawa that is right for you.
You can also check Locate Ottawa; it’s a site that allows you to get a profile on specific neighbourhoods In Ottawa.
In general, living downtown is more expensive than living in the suburbs. The cost varies depending on the size and style of the home.
Most people borrow money from the bank to help pay for their home and therefore have a mortgage. In addition to the mortgage, you will have to pay for property taxes, utilities (water, heat, electricity, etc.) and insurance.
If you are thinking about buying a home, check your local newspaper and new home magazines. A real estate agent can also help you look for a home.
The cost of renting an apartment depends on the size and location, and whether or not utilities are included in the rental cost. If utilities are included, the rent will usually be higher.
Apartments come in different sizes. Some have only one main room, while others are much larger.
Most apartments are rented by the month however, most landlords usually require you to sign a year-long lease for the first year that you live in a new apartment as well as, provide a security deposit of first and last month’s rent.
Most landlords will also require that you have a co-signer or a reference before they will rent to you.
A co-signer is someone who agrees to share your financial responsibility for the rent.
A reference is someone who can confirm your background or the likelihood that you and your family will be good tenants.
For information on how to obtain low cost housing if you are a low income resident visit: Subsidized housing
Many rental places are unfurnished. You should also be prepared for additional costs such as utilities (water, heat and hydro). Other additional costs include television cable, internet and telephone service fees.
Most employers automatically deduct income tax from each pay cheque
If you’re self-employed, you may have the option of paying by instalments throughout the year, or in a lump sum at the end of the year
The City of Ottawa provides a wide range of important public services to the Ottawa residents. These services include clean drinking water, public transit, sidewalk maintenance, snow removal, garbage removal, urban planning and emergency services, such as fire, ambulance, police and emergency preparedness. Other services include recreation, public health, financial assistance, housing, childcare, library, economic development services and the City supports agencies in the community to provide many other community-based services.
Client service centres
The City of Ottawa operates seven Client Service Centres where you can obtain information on City services and on services provided by the provincial and federal governments. You can apply for a marriage license, register your child’s birth, pay your property taxes and water bills, and more. You can apply for a marriage license, register your child’s birth, pay your property taxes and water bills, and more. You can also call 311 on your telephone, the City’s main information line, where you can get information about City services in over 170 languages, or visit Ottawa.ca
The City of Ottawa provides citizens with safe drinking water in homes, businesses and industries. To set up your water account, please call 613-580-2444 and they will be able to help you.
Hydro Ottawa is responsible for the delivery of electricity to the residents of Ottawa.
Garbage and recycling
The City is responsible for Garbage and Recycling, the collecting, transporting, processing, composting and disposing of solid waste and recyclables. City workers will drive by your home every two weeks to collect your garbage and recyclable materials. Visit the Collection Calendar on Ottawa.ca to learn more.
Snow removal and parking
During the winter months, the City's snow-clearing teams are working to keep your roads safe and clear for motorists, public transit, pedestrians and cyclists. Winter overnight parking regulations are in effect from November 15 to April 1. There is no parking on city streets between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. when 7 cm or more is forecast by Environment Canada. However, if you buy a parking permit, you can leave your vehicle on the street at all times.
When crews plan to remove snow, they will post temporary "no parking" snow removal signs ahead of time alerting motorists that snow removal is planned. Do not park where you see temporary "no parking" snow removal signs posted or your vehicle will be ticketed with a fine and towed to a nearby street. This restriction applies to all vehicles, including those with on-street parking permits. Visit Parking Permits for more information.
The city also provides emergency services such as ambulance, fire and police services. For more information, visit the "Emergency Services" section of the Portal.
The Ottawa Public Library has many branches throughout the city. You can visit any branch to borrow books, music, movies and other resources. The Library provides programs and services for New Canadians and for multicultural groups in Ottawa. Books, newspapers, magazines, CDs and DVDs are available in 11 languages in addition to English and French.
A Canada Post mail carrier will deliver and collect mail from Monday to Friday. You can send letters at a local post office or you can drop them in one of the red mailboxes found throughout the city.
In Ottawa, many cultural newspapers, television programs and radio programs are available.
You can find most community papers at restaurants, supermarkets and pharmacies throughout Ottawa. Some papers are available through subscription.
Al-Akhbar is a weekly Arabic newspaper that reports events in Lebanon and the Arab world, as well as news on Middle-Eastern communities in Canada and the United States.
Canada China News is a weekly Mandarin newspaper that features news about Canada, China and the rest of the world.
Il Postino is a monthly Italian newspaper that contains news about Ottawa’s Italian community.
The UCCB is designed to help Canadian families, as they try to balance work and family life, by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support. The UCCB is for children under the age of 6 years and is paid in instalments of $100 per month, per child.
It is important that you understand and respect this country’s laws
In Canada’s legal system, all people are innocent until proven guilty of an offence and all citizens have the right to a fair trial
Ottawa has a provincial courthouse that handles most of the region’s legal affairs
Cases are presented to either a judge or a jury of Ottawa-area residents
Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in Ottawa. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes. If you feel that you are being discriminated against, you have the right to seek help and ensure that it stops. Visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Your Rights as an Employee to learn more
As a newcomer to Ottawa, you may have to confirm your identity when you apply for Canadian documents, open a bank account or start a new job. A notary public can certify that your documents are authentic
For assistance with your legal matters, you may contact a lawyer or a community legal clinic. The organizations listed below can help you:
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) provides legal information to low-income Ontario residents. CLEO deals with issues such as social assistance, tenants' rights, workers’ rights, and immigration and refugee law
Apply for your Ontario Health Insurance Plan card. As a newcomer, it will take 3 months before you are eligible. While you wait, you should consider private health insurance. There is also short- term health insurance for newcomers who qualify through the Interim Federal Health Program.
Ottawa Public Health
Ottawa Public Health offers programs and services to individuals and communities to make the city a healthy place to live in. These include a variety of free services such as: dental services for low income individuals and families, flu vaccination and education sessions on different health topics.
To learn more about these and other health resources, please contact the Ottawa Public Health Info-Line at 613-580-6744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also many other health services in Ottawa, including:
Addiction treatment centres
Lines and support services
Mental health services
Sexual and reproductive health services
To learn more about these and other health and social resources, and to find hospitals, clinics, doctors and dentists in Ottawa, visit Health and Support Services.
Finding a doctor
There are a limited number of doctors accepting new patients, so you may have to wait several months before finding a regular doctor. While you wait, or if you need medical attention after hours you can go to a walk-in clinic.
Health Care Connect helps Ontarians who are without a family health care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) to find one. People without a family health care provider are referred to a family doctor or a nurse practitioner who is accepting new patients in their community.
Ottawa has many services and programs for seniors. On October 24, 2012, Ottawa City Council approved an Older Adult Plan (OAP) which is a plan to address the specific and evolving needs of Ottawa’s older residents.
There are several housing options suitable to seniors needs. For more information visit the housing page for seniors.
The City offers financial assistance programs to help seniors cover costs of important services such as dental care and eyeglasses, clearing snow, medical supplies and prescription drugs. To learn more about the different programs and find out eligibility criteria, visit the City’s Older Adult Portal.
If you are feeling isolated and want to make community connections, there are several seniors clubs and groups to help you. Visit seniors clubs and groups for more information.
As a senior, it is important to stay active through sports and recreation. Visit the older adults recreation and leisure page for more information on seniors centres and active living club.
Transportation and mobility
The City makes it easy for seniors to get around. All public transit buses are low floor or kneeling to assist with boarding. OC Transpo, the City’s public transit system also offer discounted monthly bus passes and other discounts for seniors. Visit the older adults getting around the city page for more information.
Throughout, Ottawa you will find specialty boutiques, souvenir shops and discount stores. The specialty shops in the Byward Market, located in downtown Ottawa, offers an enjoyable, culturally diverse shopping experience that appeals to all ages.
You can also save a lot of money on clothing and home furnishings at any of the Ottawa Consignment Shops or by shopping at a Thrift Store. These stores sell gently used clothing and household items for very reasonable prices. Also, many newcomers to Canada, may not have purchased warm winter clothes before moving here. Fortunately, there is an organization that offers families with limited income a place to get new and/or gently used snowsuits. Snowsuit
There are also many local websites, such as Kijiji Ottawa and Used Ottawa, where you can buy and sell almost everything such as furniture, clothing, toys, cars and even houses.
Grocery stores offer a selection of fresh, frozen, canned and packaged foods. They also carry many other essential items such as spices, beverages (non-alcoholic), baby items, cleaning products, medicines, toiletries, paper products, household repair items, garbage and recycling bags, pet food and pet care supplies. Below is a list of the larger grocery stores in the Ottawa area.
Ottawa has a large number of specialty restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines. If you use the Internet, you can search for a current listing of Ottawa restaurants by area and by type of cuisine.
Please see links below for examples of various cultural restaurants.
Food banks help to ensure that everyone has food, even when they cannot afford to buy it. They provide free food to persons and families in need and are located throughout the city. Ottawa Food Bank
There are also several community gardens in the Ottawa area, where you can "own" or "rent" a small plot of land and grow your own food.
Coming soon. Please check back.
Women's groups and services
Coming soon. Please check back.
Children and youth services
In the summer, there are lots of activities for children and youth to enjoy. There is swimming at a community pool, playing soccer, biking, camping, or hiking. In the winter, children can skate on the Rideau Canal or at a local arena, play hockey, go tobogganing or skiing. Visit the City of Ottawa Recreation page. Also, there are many festivals in Ottawa throughout the year with special activities for children and youth. To find out more about festivals, visit Ottawa festivals.
For youth, new to Canada, there is an excellent website called New Youth which provides young people information on how to find out about programs and services near where they live as well as newcomer related events to attend.
Community Health and Resource Centres (CHRC) provide programming and services to newcomer and immigrant children and youth and can provide information about other community programs. There are CHRCs in many neighbourhoods throughout Ottawa.
Faith and worship groups
Ottawa is a multicultural city where people can safely practice faith.
All of the world’s major faiths are practiced in the city. To find a place to worship or study your religion, contact the Multicultural Groups below. You can also visit Religion and Worship to find information on places for worship and religious education across Ontario.
Associations and organizations
Ottawa has many associations and organizations that honour the cultures and traditions of newcomers to the city.
The AOE Arts Council provides a list of hundreds of community and cultural groups in Ottawa.
There are also a number of community newspapers produced by different cultural groups. You can find most of these papers at community restaurants, supermarkets and pharmacies throughout Ottawa. Some papers are available through subscription.
Al-Akhbar is a weekly Arabic newspaper that reports events in Lebanon and the Arab world, as well as news on Middle-Eastern communities in Canada and the United States.
Canada China News is a weekly Mandarin newspaper that features news about Canada, China and the rest of the world.
Il Postino is a monthly Italian newspaper that contains news about Ottawa’s Italian community.
The city provides emergency services, such as ambulance, fire and police services.
Ambulance, fire and police
To reach ambulance, fire and police services in an emergency, dial 9-1-1 on your telephone. This emergency phone line is available 24 hours a day at no cost. Dispatch operators will talk you through your emergency until help arrives.
Be sure to call the right number, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to get the service you need:
9-1-1 – For life threatening emergencies or to report a crime in progress
613-236-1222 – For other emergencies (e.g. traffic accident)
613-236-1222 ext. 7300 (TTY: 613-760-8100) – To report a theft, property damage, missing person, or stolen vehicle
613-236-1222 (TTY: 613-232-1123) – For all other questions or to reach a Community Police Centre
Most of the major hospitals in Ottawa offer emergency medical services 24 hours a day. Several after-hours clinics and late-night pharmacies are also available.
In Canada, disabilities can be considered physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, mental health, developmental and/or medical. In 2005, a government law was passed in Ontario called “Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act” (AODA). This act states that the province of Ontario must be fully accessible by 2025. When something is accessible it generally means that everyone in the Province will be able to access the needed service or facility, barrier free. The City of Ottawa is very committed to being fully accessible to all its residents. Please visit Ottawa.ca for more information about what the City is doing to promote accessibility of its programs and services.
Many services exist that assist persons with disabilities and help them participate fully in the Ottawa community.
The City of Ottawa provides financial assistance to persons with disabilities living with low income, please visit Ottawa.ca, Community and Social Services, for more information.