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  Canada Travel Basics  
 


Canadian Currency
Canadian currency is the dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. There are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1000 dollar bills. One and two dollar bills have been replaced by coins, sometimes referred to as "Loonies" (the bird on the $1 is a loon) and "Twonies" ($2). Smaller coins are 1, 5, 10, and 25 cent pieces.

It's easy to exchange foreign currency in Canada. You can cash traveller's cheques at banks and exchange offices (Bureau de change in French) which are common in the areas you'll be visiting. Banking and credit cards are also welcome almost everywhere so you can withdraw with your bank card, use major credit cards, or even pay directly at stores, restaurants, etc. with "Interact" service - just look for the yellow sign. Many businesses will also accept US dollars and traveller's cheques, but it's always a good idea to carry Canadian money with you.

Electricity
Electrical outlets in Canada provide the same current as in the United States - 110 volts (60 cycles). If you are traveling from Europe or elsewhere, you will need an adapter to use your small appliances, if they are designed for a different standard.

Emergency and Medical Services
In case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1 to reach operators connected to the fire station, police station, and ambulances. For less serious illness, you can see a doctor at a community health centre. These are smaller clinics, and there is one in every neighbourhood. It is always wise to buy medical travel insurance in advance.

GST Rebates
Not only do your meeting dollars stretch farther here, but Canada offers one of the world's most generous tax rebate programs for non-resident visitors. A general sales tax, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), applies to most purchases. However, it is refundable (along with the provincial sales tax in some provinces) on almost all convention-related expenses, including a 50% rebate on food and beverage charges. Your delegates can also recoup taxes paid on their purchases. See Canada Customs for details.

Language
English is spoken everywhere in Canada, but if youcan speaker French it is definitely an advantage.

Liquor Laws
Bars and restaurants serve alcohol from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., with the exception of beer halls (brasseries) which serve liquor from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. The legal drinking age in Canada is 18 years old.

Tipping
Service is not included in restaurants, so it is customary to add a 15% tip to the total. (A quick way to calculate the appropriate tip amount is to add up the two taxes - they appear at the bottom of your bill. It works out to roughly 15%). If you're with a group, 15% for service may be automatically added to your bill. Just ask when you're not sure if tip is included.

Taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc. are also normally tipped 15%. Bellhops, porters, doormen, etc. generally receive at least $1 per suitcase or per service rendered. Coffee and food counters often have a tip cup next to the cash register; spare change is always appreciated.

Weather
You can find more information about weather in various cities via The Meteorological Service of Canada Tel.: (514) 283-3010 or Tel.: 1 900 565-4000 ($0.95/minute) www.meteo.ec.gc.ca

Weights and Measures
Although years ago, Canada used the imperial system of weights and measures it now uses the metric system. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius, gasoline is sold by the litre, beverages are sold by litres or millilitres, and other grocery items are marked in grams and kilograms. Short distances are given in centimetres or metres, while on the road, you'll see longer distances and speeds since they appear in kilometres. Below are some conversion equivalents.

Metric to imperial
» 0ºC 32ºF
» 25ºC 77ºF
» 1 metre 3.3 feet
» 1 km 0.62 mile
» 100 km/h 62 mph
» 1 kg 2.2 lb
» 1 litre 0.22 Cdn. gal


Imperial to Metric
» 1 foot 0.30 metre
» 1 mile 1.61 km
» 50 mph 80 km/h
» 1 lb 0.454 kg
» 1 Cdn. gal. 4.55 litres


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