Survival Guide For
New Faculty @ York

Before you leave

  • Visa and work authorization [any Canadian Embassy (Visa Section), the nearest one is in Buffalo in the US - 2 hours]: The basic choice is to apply for temporary or permanent. The temporary visa is easier to get, but you cannot stay indefinitely, and you normally need to go back to Embassy where you applied for the interview that is part of the permanent application process. The permanent application process is more involved (very detailled forms, many documents needed, larger fees, medical exam, interview) and may take longer than a year in total! If you are tenure-track faculty I recommend that once you got the necessary "Confirmation of Offer of Employment" from Human Resources Canada to contact the embassy and ask if you should apply for temporary or permanent. If you are tenure-track then it may prove helpful to mention that your appointment is for at least 6 years and that you had an interview for the job.
  • Submit your Estimate of Relocation Allowance Form to the office of the Dean.
  • When to move: The fall term at York runs from the beginning of September to December, the winter term runs from the beginning of January to April (there is also a summer term). You should be here at least 2 weeks before the start of your class.
  • Ask for your account to be created and utilize e-mail and WWW forwarding [tech support,]. Also ask that an office is ready for you and at least an X-Terminal is in it when you arrive [dept. chair].
  • If you intend to teach graduate courses apply for graduate faculty status [grad director].
  • Housing: If needed, check if temporary housing on campus is available and ask the department to reserve in your name. Note that if you do not show up for 3 days, the reservation is cancelled [York Hospitality].
  • If you take a Car from the US to Canada see the information at the Registrar of Imported Vehicles and at the Ministry of Transportation. I recommend strongly that you get all recall work done before you arrive and have the dealer document that. Some modifications (e.g. day time running lights) are also required to bring it up to Canadian standards - see the web site. Once you are in Canada you need to have it inspected by an RIV inspection center. You need also Canadian/Ontario insurance for your car. Furthermore, you need a provincial safety inspection. I strongly recommend that you do the safety inspection AFTER you get insurance, because the inspection document is only valid for a limited time (36 days) and getting adequate documentation for previous experience can take a lot of time. With all this done you can license the car at the Ministry of Transportation [nearest office: NW corner of Keele & 401]
  • If you teach a course soon after arriving arrange time(s) and classroom(s) beforehand.
  • At the border crossing: Ask about an information package for new residents. It contains a lot of very useful information about Social Security, Health Insurance, Taxes, Life in Ontario, etc.
  • Average weather information for Toronto can be found here and here. The current weather for Toronto is available here.

When you arrive

Plan for a minimum of 2 weeks to get the most important things done before teaching starts. General advice: take all documents (passport, documentation of legal status - you get that when you enter the country, offer letter, etc.) to all offices. Below I have listed only "special" documents.
  • Talk to the administrative assistant: keys, set-up of start-up funds account, etc.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) [Human Resources Development Canada: 3737 Chesswood Dr. (at the intersection with Sheppard)]: To get the number immediately you need a letter from the department stating that you need it now to get on the payroll. Otherwise it takes 3 weeks :-(.
  • Get a bank account..
  • Contact Human Resources at the university [East Office Building] about enrollment in: payroll, extra health insurance (including dental & vision), pension plan, etc. Moreover, if your previous insurance does not cover your first 3 months in Ontario enroll in the university health insurance plan (UHIP), which covers you and your dependants until OHIP starts.
  • Ontario health insurance plan (OHIP) [4400 Dufferin Street, halfway between Finch & Sheppard, 1-800-268-1154]: takes 3+ months to start. You need documentation to show where you live (rent agreement, letter from York Hospitality, etc.).
  • If you are not from the US, Canada or Japan or you have been driving less than 2 years your Driver's License is valid only for 60 days! For the current regulations see the Ministry of Transportation [nearest office: NW corner of Keele & 401]. You will need to take a written test. The material can be studied from a booklet available at the Ministry or e.g. at all "Canadian Tire" shops. After passing the written test you have to take a driving test. If you are new to driving you have to take the "G1" test first. If you have been driving before in another country you can most probably directly take the 45-minute "G2" road test. Warning: the "G2" test is usually booked full for some time ahead (several months)!. Call the booking system often to check for slots becoming free. Also consider taking the road test outside of Toronto.
  • Parking on campus [in East Office Building]: For faculty parking in the Ice Garden lot you need an "unreserved lot" parking pass (approx. $170 for 4 months in 2000) and you need to ask for an "6A Identifier Pass for the Ice Garden Parking Lot".
  • Library Card [Main Library south of Central Square]: you need your employment offer and your employee number.
  • To obtain a York ID Card you go to York Card office in the West Office Building (736-5674). The only things you have to take are one piece of ID and a payroll stub.
  • Attend the New Faculty Day and all related sessions, you meet many interesting & important people.
  • Talk to undergrad and grad secretaries about procedures for enrollment, drop dates, etc.
  • Teaching: Advice for new instructors can be found here (by Johnny Amanatides).
  • Graduate faculty: Prepare a 5-10 min presentation of your research program and the courses you teach for grad orientation day in the first week of the term.

Information assembled by Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, 1998-2000. Thanks to the rest of the department for corrections / additions.
Legal (dis-)claimer: Absolutely no guarantee on completeness and/or accuracy!
York University