Government Quarantine Hotels settling down. Drive testing, not so much.

Wait times have settled down for the government quarantine hotels. Assignees report that wait times on the phone are as low as 1 hour to as much as 3 hours, when previously wait times of 8 hours had been reported.

New Hotels Added

It is also worthy of note that the number of hotels has grown substantially. This all started with only one hotel in Vancouver, for instance, and now there are several.  There should be no problem in booking a hotel. Also, you can book most hotels online now.

Third parties can reserve AND pay on someone’s behalf

We have confirmed that third parties can reserve on behalf of another person and pay for that accommodation with a credit card that is not necessarily that of the assignee.  All Points is now booking quarantine hotels with our corporate credit card on behalf of our clients and their assignees.

Will I get charged the whole 3 nights, if I leave the quarantine hotel early?

We have seen it happen both ways. Many times the hotel only charges for the period of stay, other times the hotel charges for all three nights.

What is happening with driving?

As many readers of All Points’ Relo-lerts know, in many instances, an expatriate to Canada must take a driving test in order to get his/her full license, with all the provincial driving privileges that come with it.  However, there are roadblocks or significant delays in booking these road tests in some provinces. This is problematic, because assignees have approximately 60 days (it differs by province) to drive on their old country license, and after passing the written test, cannot drive legally in many instances (i.e. as if they were a novice with restrictions such as inability to drive without an experienced driver in the car), until they pass their road test. This can mean a complete lack of mobility for assignees until they can pass their driver’s test.  The current delays are:

  • Ontario is the winner. In most regions one cannot book a driving test at all, because this is considered an unsafe activity in what the province deems grey zones (such as Toronto and Peel).  People can perform driver’s testing in “red” and “orange” zones, but wait times are extreme, and these drive test centers will only take residents from their own area.  In other words, you can’t book a drive test in Durham, if your residence is Toronto.  Booking times stretch well into June and possibly July in some areas. 
  • Quebec:  Quebec is quite different than other provinces.  Delays in the Montreal area is as long as 6 weeks.  However, once a file is opened and the knowledge test is passed, the transferee can go to any other outlet to take the road test (off island appointments are faster to get than on island appointments and people are allowed to go anywhere for their driving appointments).  And unlike other provinces, a Transferee can use their foreign license after passing the written test and before the road test.
  • Alberta: wait times are as short as two weeks and as long as one month. 
  • Vancouver: wait times stretch out for 1 – 2 months.

There is no good advice (except in Quebec) for newcomers to the country who want to drive legally.  They can drive on their old country license for a period of time (i.e. 60 days), but afterwards are technically driving illegally.  If they take their written test and have to take a road test (if they come from a country that does not have a reciprocal agreement with the given province), then they will be driving as novices, with all the restrictions that come with that designation.

OHIP scrutiny – dissuade your employees from travelling until they get their OHIP

In the past year, Ontario has made it faster for a newcomer to the province to obtain OHIP – most of the time.  The province waived the 90 day wait period and now permits individuals to apply and receive coverage pretty much right away.

However, there are some catches.

The newcomer still must prove original proof of residency. This normally takes a few weeks or a month to get sorted out.  Once done, we can assist with booking the appointment and reviewing the documentation. 

However, it is still up to the clerk to decide whether the proof of residency is sufficient. The old rule therefore holds true in many ways: the more information / proof you can bring the better for everyone applying.

There is another catch though. If a newcomer applies after he has been out of the country for more than the permitted period of time, OHIP coverage may be delayed or even declined.  Don’t worry if your employee was out of the country on behalf of your business. Just provide a letter indicating that the travel was required for business. In most instances, this will work.

What does this mean?  The OHIP coverage may be delayed in some instances. It may not be possible to switch off your company’s temporary health insurance replacement right away.  And the coverage may be delayed further still if a clerk needs more information from you or the employee.

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