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Travel Information

Below you’ll find some general information to help make your visit run smoothly.

Weather | Emergency | Languages | Accessibility | Money | Tipping | Taxes | Official | Holidays | LGBT | Wedding FAQ
Travelling in and out of the Country | Road safety & laws | Alcohol

Weather
Ontario’s weather offers the best of all seasons. Warm sun and sand in Summer, stunning colours and crisp air in Fall and melting snow with fresh flower scents in Spring. In Summer, temperatures can range from 20 - 30 C (74 - 86 F. The average temperatures in July range from 23 C (74 F) in Southwestern Ontario, to 19 C (64 F) in Eastern Ontario and colder in Northern Ontario.

Emergency
Call 911 in case of emergency (for, ambulance or police). If you are in a rural area and cannot reach 911 (very rare) dial “0”.

Languages Spoken
Ontario is an extremely multicultural province. In the largest cities, especially, you can find dozens of languages spoken. There are only two official Canadian languages though - English and French. Other than very small pockets of the province, the majority of the residents of Ontario speak English.

Accessibility
The Ontario government has a stated goal to make Ontario more accessible to people with disabilities and to everyone who lives and visits here. That's why Ontario has developed a new Accessible Customer Service Standard. All businesses with at least one employee will have to comply with the new standard by January 1, 2012.

The customer service standard will help people by: understanding that customers with disabilities may have different needs, and finding the best way to help them access goods and services.

With respect to travelling to Ontario, the best resource is Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Persons with Disabilities Get Information Here. It is the first place one should look, both during the trip planning stage as well as throughout the visit. It offers information in multiple formats, including PDF,DAISY 4.0 , and MP3.

Show me the Money
Ontario is known for its wide range of things to buy, from world-renowned fashion, art and consumer products, to regionally produced, award-winning wines (especially ice wines) and maple syrup.

  • The currency is the Canadian dollar these days. The exchange rate puts it fairly close (usually within pennies) to the US dollar.
  • Our paper currency has been compared to Monopoly money in that it is brightly coloured and easy to differentiate denominations. We use paper money for $5 and higher denominations and coins for less than $5. We have nicknames for the $1 coin (the loonie) and the two toned $2 coin (the toonie).
  • U.S. dollars are accepted in most places, although you'll receive change in Canadian funds. Expect exchange rates to differ from merchant to merchant.
  • Cash machines/ATMs can be found in most banks, hotels, shopping centres and gas stations.
  • Travelers cheques, credit cards and debit cards are accepted at most (but not all) major retailers.
  • Currency exchange is available at banks and kiosks throughout the city and at the airport.

Tipping
Restaurants: Gratuities are seldom included on restaurant bills. It is customary to tip approximately 15-20% on the pre-tax bill.

Hairdressers, manicurists, aestheticians and taxi drivers: The percentage varies for these types of services, but 10-15% minimum is common

Bellhops: It is common to tip bellhops $1-$2 per bag.

Taxes
When making purchases in Ontario, you may see a 13 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on your bills.

On July 1, 2010 Ontario combined its sales tax (PST) with the federal goods and services tax (GST) to implement the HST. The Harmonized Sales Tax is a consumption tax. This means that the person who consumes or uses the taxable goods or taxable services pays the HST. HST is imposed on the consumer or user of taxable goods and services.

HST Refund for Visitors: The Visitor Rebate Program was cancelled with the implementation of the HST. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency website for details.

Official Holidays
It is helpful to know the dates of Canadian public holidays, especially when making plans for hotel and transportation reservations. Banks, liquor stores and government offices observe official holidays, as do most stores and business offices. Holidays that occur on weekends are observed the following Monday. Many other non-statutory holidays are celebrated such as St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.

Holidays
General Date
New Year's Day
January 1
Family Day
Third Monday in February
Good Friday
Friday before Easter
Easter Monday
Monday following Easter
Victoria Day
Monday before May 24
Canada Day
July 1
Civic Holiday
First Monday in August
Labour Day
First Monday in September
Thanksgiving Day
Second Monday in October
Remembrance Day
November 11
Christmas Day
December 25
Boxing Day
December 26

LGBT
It is helpful to know the dates of Canadian public holidays, especially when making plans for hotel and transportation reservations. Banks, liquor stores and government offices observe official holidays, as do most stores and business offices. Holidays that occur on weekends are observed the following Monday. Many other non-statutory holidays are celebrated such as St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.

Gay and lesbian marriages have been legally recognized in Ontario since June, 2003, and Ontario offers a wide variety of LGBT-friendly venues and wedding packages to choose from for your special day.

While all of Ontario is extremely open to, and accommodating of LGBT weddings, there are 3 places that particularly put out the welcome mat to the LGBT community:

Toronto,Canada's largest, most multi-cultural city, is the home of one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world, and certainly knows how to help you say “I DO” in style.

www.idointoronto.com
www.torontogayweddings.com
www.idointoronto.com

Niagara Falls, the city of love, is another place which is known worldwide for its weddings. The draws of Niagara Falls, world renown wineries, parks and gardens make this a destination wedding location of choice.

www.niagarafallsgay.com

Hundreds of LGBT couples choose Ottawa, Canada’s capital, in which to get married. Traditional Spring weddings become even more romantic in Ottawa during the world’s largest Tulip Festival. Just imagine taking wedding photos in front of millions of tulips!
www.gayweddingsontario.ca

Wedding FAQ
Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements in Ontario to obtain a Marriage License.

Previously divorced outside Canada: There may be some issues. You will need to consult with an Ontario based attorney.

Marriage license: Licences are available at local municipal offices or City Hall in Ontario or downloaded from the Ontario Ministry of Business and Consumer Services web site. The license is good for 90 days. There is no blood test. In most cases you can pick up the application and license the same day.

Other questions: Toll Free in Ontario: 1-800-461-2156 In Toronto: 416-965-1687 or 416-325-8305

In and Out of the Country:
American visitors travelling by air require a valid passport to re-enter the United States.
For more information on travel security and border procedures, visit the U.S. Department of State.

International Visitors: For specific information on travel documents required to visit Canada from countries other than the U.S., please refer to www.cbsa.gc.ca and www.cic.gc.ca.

Other Questions: toll free to 01-800-CANADA-0 (01-800-226-2320).

Road Safety:
Seat Belt/Child Car Seat Laws: It is the law that the driver and passengers travelling in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt or be in the appropriate child car seat. You must limit the number of occupants in your vehicle to the number of seat belts --- one person, one seat belt. You must follow Ontario’s child car seat rules if you are transporting an infant or a toddler, regardless of where your vehicle is registered. If you are travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction, you are exempt from the booster seat requirement for the first 30 days that you are in the province. After that, you must use the appropriate booster seat.

You may use a child car seat or booster seat from your home jurisdiction if travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction. If driving an Ontario-plated vehicle, you must use a seat that fully complies with Ontario’s child car seat laws.

Cell Phone laws: Ontario's ban on hand-held devices went into effect on October 26, 2009.

The new law makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices. The use of hands-free devices is still permitted.

Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19 and licenced bars, clubs and restaurants can serve alcohol between 11am and 2am.

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