A list of institutions you should know about if you are a newcomer

Three years ago, when we just arrived in Ottawa, we were living in a swirl. We were frantically buying furniture, beds, mattresses, and other things to furnish our new home. We also needed warm clothing to deal with the cold climate.

But there were lots of other things to do as well; paperwork and administrative things that my Canadian husband was in charge of. Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal much with these things. I was totally lost in a new city, in the middle of a harsh climate that I didn’t understand. It all felt like a whole other world.

If you are a newcomer and you just landed in Ottawa, you might feel lost in terms of where to start, what to do first and how to do it. So, here is a list of some of the most important institutions you’ll want to contact in order to start building your new life in Canada.


This is the institution where you need to go to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN is like your national identification number. It’s important to get a SIN because you need it to identify yourself to obtain some government programs or to pay your taxes. You can apply for a SIN online or by mail.

Phone: 1-866-274-6627


Beacon Hill Shopping Centre
2339 Ogilvie Road
Ottawa, Ontario

885 Meadowlands Drive East, Suite 105 (May also be accessed via 1430 Prince of Wales Drive)
Ottawa, Ontario


This is the institution where you go to get your Ontario Health Insurance Plan coverage. OHIP covers the health services you might need such as visits to your family doctor, visits to a walk-in clinic, visits to an emergency room, or tests and even surgeries.

Phone: Toll-free: 1-866-532-3161


You’ll probably also need to go to Service Ontario when applying for a driver’s license.

Tel: 416-235-2999

Toll-free: 1-800-387-3445


view of the rideau canal from Pretoria bridge
Rideau Canal in Old Ottawa East


When you come to Ottawa you should contact one of the four school boards where you’re going to enroll your child. Each board has a family welcome center, which will conduct an English and Math assessment of your child before they are assigned a school.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). This board groups the English public schools and is the largest in the city.

Address: 133 Greenbank Road, Ottawa, Ontario K2H6L3

Phone: 613-721-1820


Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB). This board groups the English Catholic schools.

Address: 570 West Hunt Club Road

Phone: 613-224-2222

Conseil des Ecoles Catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE). This board groups the French Catholic schools.

Address: 4000, Rue Labelle,
Ottawa K1J 1A1

Phone: 1 888 230-5131


Conseil des Ecoles Publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO). This board groups the French public schools.

Address: 2445 Boul. St-Laurent
Ottawa, ON K1G 6C3

Phone: 613-742-8960



The YMCA offers immigrant services such as counseling, information about training, apprenticeships, and job postings. It also offers free workshops, aimed at helping newcomers find a job.

150 Isabella Street, Suite 201
Ottawa, ON  K2P 1B7  


The Language Assessment and Referral Centre (LARC) is the institution that provides English and French assessments to immigrants when they need to prove their level of knowledge or proficiency in one of those languages. The assessments are based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks.

308-240 Catherine Street
Ottawa, ON  K2P 2G8

view of alexandra bridge in ottawa
Alexandra Bridge connects Ottawa and the city of Gatineau (Quebec)


World Skills Employment Centre is a non-profit organization that helps newcomers and immigrants increase their skills and their chances of finding a job through counseling, job search training, workshops, and language training.

300-219 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H4

Phone: (613) 233-0453


The Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization is a non-profit organization that provides immigrant services to newcomers including help in settlement, counseling and assistance in finding a job, and clinical counseling in case of stress or anxiety. It also offers English instruction for newcomers who need it.

959 Wellington Street West
Ottawa ON K1Y 2X5 Canada
Tel: (613)725-0202


The CCI Ottawa provides community services for immigrants, refugees, and newcomers.

219 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4

Phone: 613-232-9634



The IWSO helps immigrant women to settle, to find a job, to integrate into Canadian society, and to fulfill their personal goals.

219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4

Phone: Tel: 613-729-3145


Other settlement services in Ottawa

If you know some other institutions that helped you in adjusting to your new life in Ottawa, feel free to let us know in the comments. Take care.

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5 thoughts on “A list of institutions you should know about if you are a newcomer

  1. Muy Bueno el post! Tambien deberías incluir los Recreation centres y guarderías o derepente son Buenos Temas para otros post 🙂

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