Canada Risk Report
Security travel advice for the Canada
Threat level: Low-Medium
Canada is involved in the global war against ISIS and as such is regarded as a terror target. The current travel safety advice is to remain cautious to petty crimes such as pick pocketing, especially in popular tourist destinations as thieves often target this area. Be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables safe at all times to reduce the chance of theft.
For specific security threat information with regards to Montreal, see our: Montreal Travel Risk Report.
Recent Security Risk Events
In January 2017, six people were killed at a Mosque in Quebec City. Gunmen stormed the Mosque and began to open fire on people who had a come to the Mosque for evening prayers. A student described as having right-wing sympathies has been arrested for the attack. Crime in Quebec City is relatively low. The amount of gun owners in Quebec is significantly lower than most other Canadian cities.
In 2014 a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier in the capital city which lead to the city temporarily being on lockdown. In the same month a man hit two soldiers with his car, fatally injuring one. At this time the threat level was high, however it has significantly reduced in the following years.
2016 saw devastating wildfires in the province of Alberta in which thousands of square kilometres of forest was torched. Its uncontrollable nature took 44 days to tame and resulted in over 90,000 residents of the province evacuated. It is thought to have been linked to human causes but this is still being investigated. Visitors are strongly advised to remain wary of similar risks and follow local advice when necessary.
Crime rates in Canada are generally lower than many other Western countries, however urban areas occasionally experience violent crimes. In particular, you should remain vigilant to car thieves smashing car windows and stealing possessions inside. As such, you should ensure that there are no valuables left on display.
There have been a small number of incidents involving gun crime in the country. Such crimes are not likely to affect tourists however, you should remain vigilant at all times. There is somewhat of a gun culture in Canada, however not as much so as Americas. However it is good practice to take this threat into consideration. It is also advised to take a local armed guide when trekking deep into the Canadian wilderness, due to the threat of bears.
Canada is one of the founding countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation whose main concern is upholding security in the North Atlantic area. As an original member, Canada maintains strong multilateral relations with other member countries, in particular the United States which sees large numbers of trade and migration across both countries.
It is also one of the world’s leading peacekeepers, contributing to United Nations peacekeeping projects. Relations between Canada and the United Kingdom are strong. The two countries participate in regular military exchange programs and the Canadian and British Army are very similar.
Travel and safety laws may differ across provinces, however, seat belts are a compulsory requirement throughout the country. You can hire and drive in Canada on most licences without the need for an international driving permit and it is recommended that you take out full vehicle insurance. You must ensure your driving licence is in your vehicle at all times. In most places, you are able to turn right on red lights but in some cities such as the Island of Montreal and parts of Quebec right turns on red lights are prohibited.
To try and reduce levels of car thefts, in some states of Canada including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver you can be fined for leaving your vehicle unlocked or valuables on display.
Severe weather in Canada means that travel during the winter months can be dangerous, with heavy snowfalls and icy conditions proving hazardous. Snow tyres are required in some areas and are recommended for all provinces that experience winter conditions. You should make sure you are aware of all regulations in each province before you travel around the country.
If you are travelling at night, be aware of deer, elk and moose that may appear on rural roads as they can cause significant damage to vehicles.
Religion: No official religion.
Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD)
Time now in Ontario:
As of March 16th 2016, most tourists entering Canada via air are required to have an electronic travel authorisation visa (ETA). This is mandatory for all nations that were previously visa-free with the exception of US nationals and French residents from the Saint Pierre and Miquelon regions. Entry into Canada overland or via sea entry does not require this visa. Tourists can apply for this visa by visiting the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
All travellers should be up to date with regular vaccinations including the MMR vaccination. Further vaccine recommendations for visiting Canada is Tetanus. You should check with your local health professional prior to your departure.
Other health risks
Public health services and facilities are of exceptional standard in Canada, and its medical care is government-controlled. Temporary visitors may find it difficult to access quick and easy treatment and emergency room waits can be long. Despite this, you will be able to receive excellent medical care if required. You should be aware that the cost of medical treatment in Canada can prove to be extremely expensive and therefore you should ensure that your travel insurance will cover you for all treatment.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Extreme winter conditions in Canada can lead to many highway closures, particularly in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. You should check your local weather conditions and follow any advice offered as snow storms and avalanches can prove fatal.
British Columbia and Yukon are at risk of earthquakes however there have been no severe earthquakes for a long time. You should be aware of safety procedures, local authorities and local news will inform you of what to do if there is an earthquake.
Forest fires are the most serious natural hazard in the country and can breakout at any time. Fire hazards are high in heavily forested and grassland areas of western Canada. You should remain wary to the threat of forest fires at all times, comply with any total ban fire regulations and ensure you know procedures to follow if you encounter a forest fire.
British High Commission Ottawa
80 Elgin Street,
Telephone: +1 613 237 1530
U.S. Embassy Ottawa
490 Sussex Drive,
K1N 1G8 Ottawa,
Telephone: +613 688 5335
Emergency telephone: +613 238 5335
Telephone: + 514 398 9695 (Montreal)
Emergency telephone: +514 981 5059 (Montreal)
Email: montreal-ACS@state.gov (Montreal)
Telephone: +416 595 1700 (Toronto)
Emergency telephone: +416 595 6506 (Toronto)
Email: TorontoPassport@state.gov (Toronto)
Telephone: +604 685 4311 (Vancouver)
Emergency telephone: +604 685 4311 (Vancouver)
Email: vancouverACS@state.gov (Vancouver)
Telephone: +418 692 2095 (Quebec)
Emergency telephone: +418 692 2095 (Quebec)
Email: QuebecACS@state.gov (Quebec)
Telephone: +403 266 8962 (Calgary)
Emergency telephone: +403 266 8962 then press '0' (Calgary)
Email: Calgary_ACS@state.gov (Calgary)
Other useful info
Police, Fire, Ambulance emergency: 911 can be used to reach all emergency services.