Canada, and Toronto in particular, are relatively safe for you as a student, but it is important to pay attention to your own safety and belongings, and to know whom to call for help if you need it.
Campus Police: University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Police are responsible for the safety and security of the University community. They are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can be reached at 416-287-7398 in SW304. They patrol the University on foot, bicycle and by car to enhance personal safety, to prevent property crime and to monitor for fire and other hazardous conditions. If you have any safety concerns or see something suspicious, contact Campus Police right away. Some of the free programs that Campus Police offer to all students are:
- UTSC Patrol escorts: can walk with you to any point on campus if you feel unsafe walking alone
- Emergency phones: are telephones on-campus that connect you directly to Campus Police. You can see the tall red poles outdoors on campus, and the telephone boxes in some of your classrooms.
- Lone worker program: provides you with a walkie-talkie that connects you to Campus Police when you are working or studying in an isolated part of campus after hours.
- S.T.O.P. Theft program: allows you to purchase a tag that can be installed on your electronic devices, deterring theft and increasing your chances of getting your property back if it is stolen.
Toronto Fire, Ambulance and Police Services: In an emergency situation, you can summon the Fire Department, Toronto Police and ambulance services by calling 911. 911 calls from most pay phones and cell phones are free. If you are off-campus and are not in an emergency, you can contact these any of these city services at their non-emergency numbers. If you are on-campus and not in an emergency, contact Campus Police.
Health Insurance: All international students are automatically charged for the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP). You can see the charge for UHIP on your ROSI invoice. Go to the UHIP page under the upon arrival tab to view the online webinar, to learn how to access your health care and how to print your UHIP coverage card. You will also be enrolled in either the SCSU, APUS or GSU Health & Dental Plan. It is your responsibility to understand what your insurance does and does not cover, as well as to carry your cards with you at all times.
Health & Wellness Centre: If you are on-campus and need the services of a doctor, nurse or counsellor, your first stop should be the Health & Wellness Centre in SL-270 in the Student Centre. If you are not on campus but need non-urgent medical care, then you may also wish to wait and come to the Health & Wellness Centre during their opening hours.
Telehealth Ontario: Telehealth Ontario is a telephone service that connects you with a Registered Nurse who can give you confidential health information or advice. The nurse can tell you whether you can treat your accident or illness at home, and whether you should go to a walk-in clinic or go to the hospital. You can call anytime at: 1-866-797-0000.
Hospitals: If you require emergency medical care for an accident or illness, or will require treatment with specialized equipment, such as x-rays or stitches, then you should go to a hospital. Remember that NOT all hospitals are a part of the UHIP Preferred Provider Network (PPN), and as such you may need to pay with cash or a credit card at the hospital and have your doctor complete a Claim Form so that you can apply for a reimbursement. If you require urgent emergency services, you can call 911 for an ambulance, but not all ambulances will take you to a PPN hospital, and not all Health & Dental Plans will reimburse for ambulance services.
Walk-in or after-hours clinic: Most Canadians who do not have a family doctor will go to a walk-in clinic for these types of services. You can go to a walk-in clinic if you would otherwise have gone to the Health & Wellness Centre, but are not on campus or they are closed. You can find a list of walk-in clinics near you online.
Protecting your finances:
If living off- campus, ALWAYS pay your rent using a cheque and ask for a receipt of payment from your landlord. Cheques can be purchased from your bank, and will allow you to retain proof of your payment. Cheques are very valuable and should be kept in a safe place
When using your debit card at an ATM or cash register, ALWAYS keep your pin covered from store cameras and those around you
Opt for paper bank and credit card statements. This enables you to detect fraudulent transactions more easily as you will regularly receive these statements
Always call your bank or credit card company immediately if you suspect any suspicious account activities.
Never disclose confidential financial and/or personal information online. Your bank and/or credit card company will never ask for such information online. Do not respond to any e-mails asking for such information. If you have any suspicions about such claims, call your bank or credit card company immediately.
When making purchases with a credit card, make sure that the cashier does not swipe your credit card more than once. This will result in you being charged several times for one purchase
Some shops offer the option of requesting “cash back” when making a purchase and paying with your debit card. Note that cash back comes directly from your bank account. When requesting cash back, ensure that the cashier gives you the correct amount.
Keeping your documents safe
In addition to your money, your passport and study permit should be your most protected possessions while you are in Canada. The following are some suggested tips in order to keep them safe:
- Remove you Study Permit from your passport.
- Keep your passport and permit(s) someplace secret and safe
- Consider applying for an alternate form of ID (such as an Ontario Driver’s Licence (G1)), so you don’t need to bring your passport to a bar or club
- Never give your passport to someone else to hold for you (e.g. friends or landlord). You are required to show your passport to police, Border Services, Immigration Officers, and can choose to show others, but the responsibility for your passport is yours.
- Remove your passport from your pocket or bag when you get home, so that you do not accidentally put it in the washing machine.
- Never carry your passport in your back pocket or in an open purse or knapsack where it could easily fall out or be stolen.
- Keep scans or photocopies of your passport, permit(s), and other important cards or documents in a separate, safe location.