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Living in Ottawa, Ontario

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Ottawa is the capital of Canada and the city itself has a lot of history. Canada’s Parliament building towers over the city, which, along with the famed Rideau Canal, makes it a picturesque place to live. It also borders Gatineau, Quebec, located on the north bank of the Ottawa River; together they form the National Capital Region (NCR). Approximately 50 per cent of its residents speak English and 30 per cent speak French. The remaining 20 per cent speak other languages.

Ottawa is the location of most federal government department headquarters, with lots of job opportunities in the public service. It is also home to many major technology and other companies. With the highest-educated workforce in Canada, Ottawa has more engineers, scientists and PhDs per capita than any other city in the country. According to Statistics Canada, it is said to also have the highest median incomes of any Canadian city.

Population of Ottawa

Ottawa is a proud multicultural city and reflects the rich cultures and traditions of both English and French Canada. Approximately 50 per cent of its residents speak English and 30 per cent speak French. The remaining 20 per cent speak other languages. The Ottawa region has a population of more than 1.2 million and is home to immigrants from a wide variety of countries with the majority being quite young—over 65 per cent are between 18 and 49.


For information on driving in Ottawa and how to get a licence, see Driving in Ontario.

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Places of worship

As a diverse city and a large immigrant population, all of the world’s major faiths are practiced in Ottawa.

Pre-arrival settlement and employment services in Ontario

For information about settlement services in the Ottawa area, click here.


Ottawa has a strong economy and offers a variety of job opportunities for people with different backgrounds and interests. The key industries are: High technology, Life sciences sectors, Professional services, Public service, Tourism.

As well, Ottawa has the highest-educated workforce in the country and the second-highest average salary per person. The unemployment rate is stable and is usually below the national average.

Finding a Home

There are plenty of options in finding a home in the Ottawa region, but rental prices get a little pricier, comparable to Toronto. Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,048 per month. Average home sale prices are $351,500, much more affordable than living in Toronto.

To find a rental apartment, you can check your local newspaper classifieds or online sites like Craigslist.

To purchase a home, contact a realtor in the area who will guide you through the home-buying process.


Ottawa residents are eligible for the provincial public health program, Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). It covers a wide range of medical services, including: Check-ups with your family doctor or at walk-in clinics, hospital visits, eye examinations and some vaccinations. However, OHIP does not cover the cost of prescription drugs.

As a newcomer to Ontario, you’ll usually have to wait about three months before you are eligible for coverage under OHIP. Apply for the program as soon as you arrive in Ottawa, and while you wait, you can receive short-term health insurance through the Interim Federal Health (IFH) Program.

For more information on OHIP, visit Ontario – Health Care. To find hospitals, doctors and dentists in Ottawa, visit Health and Support Services.


Ottawa offers high quality English and French education in public, Catholic and private school systems. Public elementary and secondary school education is paid by the government. If you enroll your children in private schools, you will have to pay tuition fees.

You will also find many colleges and universities in Ottawa offering specialized learning for adults and high school graduates. But unlike schools, you will have to pay tuition fees.

  • Algonquin College offers more than 100 full-time programs.
  • Carleton University offers over 200 programs in 47 departments, including public affairs, journalism, film studies, engineering, high technology and international studies.
  • La Cite collégiale offers 70 full-time college programs in areas such as administration, media and communications, health, technology, hospitality and tourism, community services and trades.
  • University of Ottawa offers more than 300 programs in 10 faculties and is North America’s premier bilingual university.


As part of the National Capital Region, Ottawa has many cultural attractions, including galleries, museums and festivals. As well, Ottawa owns and operates dozens of other recreation facilities throughout the city including multi-purpose facilities and smaller recreation centres, seniors centres, parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, arenas and outdoor rinks. One of the greatest winter activities in Ottawa is skating along the Rideau Canal. You can rent a pair of skates, and skate the longest outdoor skating rink in the world!

See here for a list of recreation facilities throughout the city including.