The Province of Ontario



Ontario Flag

The name Ontario is said to come from the Iroquoian (first nation) word meaning "vast body of water". It is the second largest Province in Canada, spanning approximately one million square kilometers. It stretches all the way from the Great Lakes to the frozen shores of Hudson Bay in the North. Situated between the provinces of Manitoba to the west and Quebec to the East, the Province borders the USA to the South.

It is home to 6 National and 280 Provincial Parks which give the Province a virtually endless array of Recreational Possibilities.

Most of the Province is in the Eastern Time Zone, which is GMT -5 hours, some of Western and Northern Ontario is in the Central time zone, which is GMT -6 hours. Between the months of April and October Daylight Saving is in effect. Ontario has very defined seasons, the summer months can be very hot and the winter months extremely cold with a lot of snow. Spring and fall tend to have a lot of rain.

The Southwestern part of Ontario is normally milder than the rest of Southern Ontario. Northern area's of the Province are generally a lot colder due to the winds blown in from the Artic.

Northern Ontario is mostly occupied by forests and rocky outcrops, part of the Canadian Shield. Four of the five Great lakes and the St. Lawrence River form the southern boundary of the Province. One of the most famous landmarks of Ontario (and all of Canada) is the Niagara Falls, which are located south of Toronto near the city of St.Catherines.

Ontario has one of the largest populations and is home to Canada's capital city, Ottawa, which is located in the South-East of the Province. The Greater Toronto Area, is Canada's industrial, economic and population centre, home to the Provincial capital and is also located in the South. The vast majority of the Province's population (11.4 million in 2001 census) lives in the South of the Province in the Durham, Halton, Peel and York regions of the GTA.

Also, the cities of Hamilton, London, and Windsor are large settlements with over a million residents between them.

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Provincial Government

The Government of Ontario is administered by Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal party. As with all the Provinces and Territories, the Provincial Government are responsible for Healthcare, which is receiving a massive boost in spending with more funds being promised by the Federal Government. All aspects of vehicle registration and Driver Licensing, The publicly funded Education system has been promised extra funding in the last budget and is being made a priority. Welfare assistance and training is provided by the Ontario Works Program that is designed to enable people to help themselves back into employment.

Employment Standards is a subject you should be familiar with as you start employment in your new country. Things are definitely different and this link will give you all the info on your rights and obligations as an employee - from the minimum wage payable to working hours and benfits entitlement. It is also worth knowing the various Health and Safety rules.

Another great development from the Provincial Government is the recent announcement of extra funding for organisations dedicated to helping immigrants settle successfully. With the vast majority of immigrants choosing to settle in the Province, there are a wide variety of Immigrant Assistance Organisations that can help either before you land or once you arrive. These services range from education assessment and transfer to language and skills training support. Most are non profit organisations but there may be fee's involved.

The Province has a Sales Tax (PST) rate of 8% on top of the 6% Federal GST, Hotel room tax at 5% and also collects Provincial Income Tax. Information on and links to TAX information reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 2004.

As one of the main entry points along the St.Lawrence river, Ontario has a full history, especially since the Western settlers arrived. The Library and Archives Canada Website has some excellent information on the Provinces colourful history since the days of Confederation (1867).