Documentation:Science Co-op/Ottawa, ON

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Helpful Tips For Co-op Students Going to Ottawa

Purpose: This document was created to help you prepare the necessary documents and funds
BEFORE your departure to Ottawa. This information may help to prevent some difficulties with
paperwork and make it an easier transition for you.


Ottawa is the capital of Canada. There are a lot of Canadian history and culture everywhere you go. It isn’t a big city like Toronto or Vancouver, however, it is still a wonderful city with beautiful sceneries and people. As you can imagine, being capital of Canada, there are a lot of government related buildings in downtown Ottawa. Just a few simple step across the beautiful Ottawa river with the Parliament building in the background, you’ll cross over to Quebec. Moreover, given the number of government buildings, there are also a lot of high-tech company as well. For example, RIM, Alcatel-Lucent, Mitel, Cisco, etc.


There are your typical charter banks: TD Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, and HSBC


Since it is still part of Canada, the Medical Service Plan in BC will still work in Ottawa. However, you’ll need to contact the BC Health to let them know that you’ll be away from BC temporarily. There are also certain limitation to the medical benefits you receive, so make sure you figure out the details before departing. For other extend health benefits (i.e. dental, physio, chiropractor, etc.), make sure you’re either covered by the school or your own third party company.

In Ontario, auto insurances are privately own. Therefore, you’ll have to search for a insurance company or approach one of the banks for auto insurance.


Typical room share can range from $450 to $650 all inclusive per month (i.e. hydro, utilities, internet, etc.). The housing can come furnished or non-furnished. Most of the High-tech companies are located in the Kanata region, which is about 20mins away from downtown by car and 45 to 50mins by bus. Government buildings are mostly located in downtown. The housing are usually shared room in a house/townhouse. An individual bachelor suite in downtown could cost around $1000 to $1500 per month.

Use Kijiji or craigslist to find housing.


  • Always check with your company first to see if they have a transit program.
  • OC Transpo and O-Train are the main public transportation for around the city. (There are also buses that specifically take people just around the downtown parliament and government buildings). OC Transpo travels on dedicated transit lanes on the highway, so they’re quite efficient during rush hour time.(If you are going to use public transit, it's recommended to purchase a monthly bus pass for your daily commute.)
  • VIA Rail is used for travelling to and from other parts of Ontario (i.e. Toronto, Montreal, Windsor, etc.).
  • Depending on your distance to your company, biking is a great option as well; however, during winter, it would be nice to have your own vehicle. If not, then make sure you’ve a set of good winter gear to keep you warm.

Document Preparation

Bring your SIN Card, Passport, Health Care Card, and other important documents (i.e. insurance). Since USA is relatively close by, it will be handy to have your passport in case you want to travel.

Additional Advice

  • Be prepare for the winter. Temperature gets as low as –25 degree Celsius, so make sure you have proper clothing.
  • If you’re an eat out person, then learn to cook. It will save you a lot of money. There are a number of restaurants in downtown as well, but can be costly. A wide variety of choices of cuisine, but of course not as prominent as Vancouver.
  • Make sure you check out the Parliament building, Rideau Canal, and don’t miss the skating on the Canal as well.
  • Make a trip to Montreal and/or Toronto if you’ve never been, it will be worth it. And take the VIA Train.