First and foremost, Happy New Year 2024.
I am writing this very late on January 1st, 2024, so it will probably be posted on January 2nd by the time I finish writing it.
As many of my readers know, on January 1st, 2012, I switched provinces. I moved from Ontario (at the time Cornwall, Ontario) to Montreal Island (Dorval, Quebec), however after 4352 Days on the Island (11 Years, 11 Months, as I moved December 1st, 2023) I have returned home. I had some amazing experiences in Montreal (and surrounding areas), made a lot of new friends, and landed one of the best jobs I have ever had, but it was time to leave, and I regret noting.
That being said, returning to Ontario has not been an easy task, and I will admit right now, that my lack of experience with moving provinces could be the culprit. I mean, I only did this once before, 12 years ago. But then again, I did not have any vehicles when I left the province over a decade ago, and to be honest, I cannot remember if the process was this difficult or not, but if it had been, I am pretty sure I would have remembered.
So, what happened? Well, late last year (2023) I decided to return home. My elderly mother is having some health issues, so I figured it was time to return home and help take care of the woman who gave me life. At the time it hadn’t dawned on me that switching provinces would be difficult, I had a purpose and I would do anything to make good on it. And even now that most of the stuff is taken care of, looking back, the difficulties, in the end, were worth it. But just by a smidge.
The Service Ontario Fiasco (Vehicle and Health Card)
In early December I returned home, and right away, knowing I would have to switch over my car, I got a safety done. This is mandatory when bringing a vehicle over from Quebec. Any vehicle that needs to be road-worthy that is. So I tackled that issue right off the bat. Kind of a bad choice, but you have to understand my reasoning. I work in Quebec, and although I can work 100% remotely, I still want to go back into the office, but Quebec has a strict “Winter Tire” law, and as I have “All Weather” (not all season) and these did not have the “snowflake in the mountain” logo, crossing the border into Quebec with a Quebec registered vehicle without winter tires from December 1st till I think April 1st, could land you a $400 fine. So, I wanted to get my car transferred to Ontario ASAP. And this is where I made it hard on myself. You see, a safety has an expiry date. 35 Days. And in my rush to get out of Quebec before December 1st hit, I didn’t do my proper research, like getting a driver’s abstract from Quebec.
Since I could not, at the time, go back to Quebec due to their tire law, I could not just walk into a SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, not to be confused with SAQ – Société des alcools du Québec, which should never be mixed with driving) and get my Abstract, I decided to fax them my request (to cut down on mail time) and had to wait for them to mail it back to me. And thank god I did not mail in my request, because with the fax, it still took them a few weeks to get it to me. My abstract arrived on December 27th, 2023, which was cutting it a bit close to the expiry of my safety.
So, I received my Driver’s abstract, check. Need insurance to get my car registered in Ontario. So my thought was, to get insurance, then visit Service Ontario to get my Ontario License, Plates, and Health Card. So I did my due diligence, got a few quotes online, decided on an insurance company, and gave them a call. Now this is all on the 28th, again, short on time. The plan was to get the insurance, and head to Service Ontario in Alexandria, as it is a small town and the lineup would be minimal. But as per usual, plans do not seem to work out for me. After working out a package with the insurance company they asked for my Ontario driver’s License… wait what? Yeah, unbeknown to me, you need that first. So I decided to head to Service Ontario in Westgate Mall (Ottawa), and grab my number, 86, the current number on the board, 62… gonna be a while.
Now, on my way into Service Ontario at Westgate Mall, I read a sign that they do not do Health Card Applications, go to City Hall, and I thought nothing of it as I just wanted my License, I could get the Health Card in Alexandria. So I took my seat, and about an hour went by, the current number was up to 75, still had a while to kill, when I looked over at the postings on the wall and saw an 8.5 x 11 sheet with microprint on it – Things we do not do here – 5th Item down, Inter-Province/Country License exchange…. Why the hell is this in Microprint, and not in big FUCKING LETTERS outside like the Health Card notice? An hour wasted sitting there to find out I had to go to Walkley Road, which made sense, I mean that is where I got my first license many eons ago, but common, in microprint?
So, off to Walkley Road I go, spend another hour (now 2 hours behind my original plan) and finally get my license, sort of. You see, in Quebec, I had my full 5 and 6A license, which is equivalent to G and M (car and motorcycle over 600 cc), but since I had not had my full 6A (motorcycle) for more than 2 years, Ontario does not trust it, even though in Quebec you need to take a mandatory 26-hour advanced course before you even get your learners (Ontario does NOT have this, its more learn on the go here), so my license was demoted to an M2, meaning I now have to take (and pay for) an exit test in the fall… But that was not the only quirk I had to deal with. I handed over my Birth Certificate (required for things like this) and the clerk rejected it because it was laminated. Now, there is a law where a new birth certificate cannot be laminated, yes, true, however, my birth certificate is old… issued in 1979 (yes… I am old). And this lamination law does not apply to my certificate, so I had to wait while the clerk confirmed with his superiors… this took a bit of time. Then there was the Eye test… you know, the blinking lights in the left and right eye… 4 machines I went through to pass… So after about an hour and a half at the license bureau, I now had my license, check. Now, to get my insurance…
This wasn’t too bad of an experience, although I will note 2 things, 1. In Quebec, insurance is paid bi-weekly, not monthly, which makes it so much easier to align with your payday. So that sucks. 2. In Quebec I was able to get a really good price on insurance with one company for both my car and motorcycle, but now I have 2 companies, as the company that insured my motorcycle was pretty cheap but wanted over $3200 a year to insure my car (Despite being well over 25 years old, and a relatively clean record, I hade some claims back in the 2000s), so I had to go with a separate company that quoted me half that. But all in all, after an hour or so I had all my insurance, check. However by this time, it was too late to get to Alexandria to have my car transferred over and get my health card… so it would have to wait till the next day… again, safety is expiring soon, and I am stressed.
So the next day, after spending that night at my buddy’s house, I went into town to get my plates and health card at Service Ontario Alexandria, I headed there at about 2 pm, expecting to be done in an hour, I mean, how hard can it be (foreshadowing). I also made plans that once I had plates, I would return to my old place in Montreal to pick up my printer and a few other things I needed (Again, I was rushed out due to tire law, and forgot some necessities) but my friend who took over my apartment had to work later that evening, and to get to Montreal from Alexandria is about a 2 hours drive. So my plan was, to go to Service Ontario at 2 pm, be done by 3 pm, and end up in Montreal by 5 pm giving me an hour or two to collect my few needed things. But as I mentioned earlier, nothing goes to plan for me.
At first, it seemed everything was going fine, I had all my documentation, my safety was still valid, and I was about to get my plates until it was discovered I had $324 in unpaid parking fines from one of my previous vehicles in Ontario. They were over 13 years old (as I had not had a car in Ontario for the whole time I was out of province, and for a year before I left), and were a hell of a surprise as I always paid for my tickets. So with that out of the way, and my wallet a little lighter than expected, I get my plates (for my Car only, the motorbike needs to be safetied first, and that has to wait till spring), now for the Health Card… Since I am a returning citizen to Ontario, all my numbers stayed the same (License and Health Card alike) but to process my return the clerk had to kick me out of the system to bring me back in. This ended up being an issue… She kicked me out, but when trying to bring me back in she got an error. She tried her best to fix it but ultimately had to call their tech support to fix the issue, this, as with everything else, took some time. So instead of getting out of there at 3 PM, it was 4:30 PM, and by the time I got my plates on my car in the cold freezing rain, it was 5 pm, too late to go to Montreal… So I had to rework plans, and since my wallet was drained, I had to cancel my New Year’s plans and went to Montreal earlier today (The 1st) to get the things I needed…
So that is the hell I went through with my vehicle and health card… Now, getting Internet and working on security issues… that was also a fun task…
The Bell Canada Latency and Security Conundrum
Now do not get me wrong, I am very grateful for the internet package I received, before I returned my boss had given me the number of the Bell tech that installed his fiber. Now in Quebec, I was quoted $70 a month for 3 Gb fiber because I lived in a condo downtown, and I knew houses would be more expensive, but when I looked up my new home’s address it quoted me $130 a month for just 1.5 Gb, now I am used to $75 a month for 400 Mb down through Videotron, and I love the fact I could upgrade to 3 for a bit cheaper, but when I decided to move, well, $130 is a bit too rich, this is when my boss told me about contacting the Bell tech, and I confirmed he also worked in Ontario. And although this helped me in the end, it was a less-than-perfect experience. I called up the tech and he quoted me an amazing price, $75 for 1.5 Gb, which is the same as I was paying, in Montreal, so I agreed and he said he would run it through the next day. Well, a week went by, and nothing, so I called him again, and we arranged for the next Sunday, and I mistakenly thought he was going to do the installation on Sunday. No, instead he was making the order on Sunday, which he had issues with, mainly because I just recently changed my address on file to the new Ontario address which did not match my ID (I have my cell phone with Bell, and used the bill as my proof of address), so he said he would place the order the next day and if there were still issues they would create a new account and I could merge them later. In the end, I managed to get the 1.5 Gb fiber for $65 ($55 for the fiber, and $10 for the Bell TV app, the best he could do) which I am extremely happy about. But the internet is on a separate bill and was installed a lot later than I expected. So my work was affected as I work 100% remotely, but like I said, in the end, I am extremely happy.
Now, while I am talking about Bell, my cellphone is with Bell (as I mentioned above) and it has a Quebec Number… which I need to change. Now I know what you might be thinking, keep the number, Bell’s cell plans have unlimited long-distance across the country, as do most other major carriers… and you would be right, however the woman I came home to help take care of, my elderly mother, has a landline. For her to call me, its considered a long-distance call, so to fix this, I would just have my number switched over, easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy right? Now if you got this far in this story, you know nothing goes as planned. So my issue is, for work, some of our systems have 2FA, and this 2FA goes off the number in the user settings of those systems (sends a text message), so to log in, and change those, you have to have the number in the system active to get the text. You also have to have the new number to replace it. So essentially you need 2 active phone numbers at the same time, so just changing the number over is not an option as only the new number would be active. Now yeah, I probably could have the sysadmins of those systems update it, but that would require a support ticket, which could take a week or so for them to assign the ticket to the next sprint, and another month before it gets actioned… I needed a better solution. While at Billing Bridge Mall earlier in December I had a question burning in my head, could you have 2 numbers assigned to the same phone? I just needed it for a month or so, just until I had every 2FA update, but I didn’t want to buy a new phone as I am only a year into my contract, so I went into the Bell store to ask the question that was now burning in my mind. The answer is Yes, you can. There is now a thing called a virtual sim that can be installed on a phone to give it two numbers, two text sources, and two internet connections… (My phone now says Bell – Bell on top with two signal indicators). So now my phone will answer both numbers…. however this counts as not just a second number, but a second line. A $45 a month extra line. And although I have this active on my phone right now, the only question I have left, and in a month I will find out, is, if I cancel my Quebec number, which is on my main line (the one with the phone contract) will it voice my contract and make be pay out the phone balance? or can I have the new number just transferred over to my primary line? If not, then I will have to get a NEW number and use the second phone line for another month to update all the 2FA to that number…
So, as mentioned, a lot of the hassle I have had with this move probably could have been avoided with better planning, but its not all on me. So in the end, I have gone full circle, I am back in Ontario and so far everything is sorted out and a whole load of stress has been lifted from my shoulders. I had a great (close to) 12 years on the island, but I am glad to be home again. Less traffic, less stress, and reconnecting with old friends. I will not lie though, I do miss the big(ger) city, I miss the atmosphere, and I miss the friends I have out there, although I will still see them, just not as often as I used to (as now that I have plates I can return to the office bi-weekly as planned).
Some day I will probably look back on this event, and all its quirks and mishaps, and realize, that maybe, just maybe, it’s all considered normal.