Cost of Living in Canada- Student Expenses, Accommodation, Travel Cost

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    For international students who have decided to take the plunge and study in Canada, finding out the cost involved is not enough. As the cost of living in Canada will make up a large portion of their expenses when studying abroad. Finding out how much it will cost you to move to Canada and the cost involved in living in Canada can help students plan better. This article will discuss in detail the cost of living in Canada, across some of the best student cities in Canada, and how expensive is Canada when compared to other the top countries in the world.

    Also Read, Scholarships to Study in Canada

    How Expensive is Canada?

    International students who wish to study abroad must compare the costs involved in studying at some of the top destinations with Canada. Here’s a peek into the cost of living in Canada and other study-destinations:

    Country/City 1 BHK Rent/month (C$) Meal for 2 (C$) Monthly Transportation pass (C$)
    Toronto 2,300 90 151
    Montreal 1,290 65 86
    London, UK 3,064 104 262
    New York, USA 3,064 130 165
    Berlin, Germany 1,412 63 127
    Sydney, Australia 2,534 96 208

    As per the table, it can be considered that the cost of living in Canada is not as high as in the US, UK, and Australia. Though Germany may offer a cheaper lifestyle, Canada is one of the best study abroad locations to choose from an expense perspective.

    Another thing to consider when planning to study in Canada is to consider the exchange rate for CAD with your home country. On average 1 CAD is usually worth 55-62 INR (current rate 57.82 March 2021).

    Cost of Living in Canada: Provinces and Cities

    The cost of living in Canada for an international student will not solely depend on the university they choose to study with. Though tuition fees can vary drastically across universities and colleges in Canada, their location within the nation will also affect the cost of living. Given below is a table describing the overall cost involved when living in different Canadian provinces. The article then discusses the same in details in sections below:

    Province Accommodation (CAD/month) Food (CAD/month) Transportation (CAD//month) Miscellaneous (CAD/month)
    Alberta 481  282  73  338 
    Ontario 600  270  86  290 
    Quebec 423  272  42  318 
    British Columbia 871  279  108  342 
    Newfoundland  495  269  69  234 
    New Brunswick 458  245  71  237 
    Nova Scotia 500  245  68  247 
    Manitoba  495  253  100  307 
    Saskatchewan 560  259  83  311 

    The above-mentioned expenses are monthly costs in Canadian Dollars. The cost may vary depending upon your choice of accommodation and lifestyle. An additional 10,000 CAD (annually) must be available with an international student living outside the province of Quebec.

    There are 6 major provinces in Canada: Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. These provinces are compared to different factors for knowing about the cost of living in each Canadian province. To calculate the cost of living in Canada, the following factors are considered: 

    • Accommodation: For an international applicant one of the major expense is accommodation. Choosing to stay on-campus or off-campus highly affects the cost of living. 
    • Food Expenses: The food expenses include meals and groceries.  On average, a person spends CAD 200 on groceries each month. Meal cost includes three-course meals (including or excluding alcoholic beverages) from a mid-range restaurant with dinner being the most expensive meal of the day.  
    • Transportation Charges: Depending upon the distance a student is traveling, there are many ways to get around in Canada. For local traveling, you may find bus, subways, taxis or bicycle, even walk would help for a short distance. Though private transport is also an option, it is quite expensive when compared with public transport and can drastically differ the cost of living in Canada when chosen as the primary mode of transport
    • Healthcare Charges: The most emphasized suggestion for the students is to get health insurance. They may get one beforehand or just after landing in Canada. Generally, healthcare charges include: 
      • Visiting a Doctor
      • Medical Specialists
      • Hospital Stays
      • Medical Procedures 
      • Private insurance plans are quite expensive than public insurance plans. Public healthcare plans are administered in each province. Other specifications are based on the selection of a province.
    • Student Expenses: Student charges comprise tuition fees and miscellaneous charges. These charges may include the cost of textbooks, mobile phones, public transit, entertainment, and clothing.

    Cost of Living in Ontario, Canada

    Ontario offers students a wide range of universities and colleges, hence, the cost of living in Ontario has a diverse range. Since all the cities in Ontario have various universities, the students can easily find a university/college within their budget. Given below are the range of expenses of an international student studying in Ontario. 

    Accommodation Costs in Ontario

    For Short Term Stay

    Accommodation Type Price Range/night (CAD)
    Hotels 96 to 120
    Bed and Breakfast stay 50 to 150
    Hostel 35 to 90

    For Long Term Stay

    Accommodation Type Price Range (CAD)
    Homestay 600 to 1,100/month
    Residence/Dormitory 3,000 to 7,500/year
    Rented Apartment 600 to 2,000/month

    Food Expenses in Ontario

    The Comparison between three famous cities of Ontario – Toronto, Ottawa, and Guelph, an overall average estimate for Ontario household consumption is calculated and given below:

    Estimates Rates
    Food and non-alcoholic beverages 9,198 (monthly)
    Alcoholic beverages 1,994 (monthly)
    Mid-Range Restaurant 65 (three-course meal)
    Grocery (vegetables and fruits) 95 (per kg)
    Milk 2.31 (per liter)
    Water 1.68 (0.33-liter bottle)

    From the survey conducted for the hunt of best quality food offered by the universities, it was found that out of 10, there were 5 Ontario Universities that were placed high in the food quality list. These are: 

    1. University of Guelph
    2. Queen's University
    3. McMaster University
    4. Ryerson University
    5. University of Western Ontario

    Transportation Charges in Ontario

    Mode of Transport Adult Charges (CAD)
    Self – Driven Vehicle 8,500 to 13,000 per year
    PRESTO (Electronic Payment Card) 3.00
    Tokens and Tickets 9.00 (Minimum 3 tokens)
    Downtown Express 3.25 cash or token or Monthly Express Sticker for 43.00
    Single fare purchase - Cash 3.25
    Monthly Metropass 146
    Weekly Pass 43.75

    Healthcare Charges in Ontario

    To study at Top Canadian Universities, you need medical insurance certificates along with other documents for enrollment. If in case, you do not have student health insurance, one of the foremost things you have to do after landing in Canada is to purchase health insurance. In Ontario, international students are not covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Instead, Public Universities provides the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) for most of the universities in Ontario.

    Difference between OHIP and UHIP

    • OHIP is offered to permanent citizens of Ontario. UHIP is offered to international non-residents at an Ontario university.
    • OHIP is funded by provincial taxes. UHIP is a non-profit plan which is funded by member premiums.

    The coverage plan includes - doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, dental emergencies, air ambulance, and more.

    Student Expenses in Ontario

    Ontario is amongst the most expensive provinces in Canada. Also, it is home to the most expensive cities – Toronto and the capital of Canada – Ottawa. This makes education quite expensive for international students in Ontario. The undergraduate international students have to pay an average of 25,000 CAD/year. On the other hand, for graduate students, this cost is around 16,000 CAD/year which may increase or decrease depending upon the program chosen.

    Apart from tuition fees, books, and other miscellaneous items are also a part of student expenses. A rough estimate of the same could be around 750 CAD/month.

    Cost of Living in 5 Ontario Cities

    The cost of living in the province of Ontario’s top five cities is compared below:

    City Apartment Rent (CAD)/1-Bedroom Meal Cost (CAD)/3-Course Meal Transportation Charge (CAD)/Monthly Pass
    Toronto 2,020 75 143
    Ottawa 1,120 70 103
    Hamilton 1,050 60 101
    Guelph 1,260 60 80
    Burlington 1,495 80 97

    From the above-mentioned data, it can be concluded that Toronto is one of the most expensive cities across the province for students. It is found that: 

    • Housing prices in Toronto vary greatly in comparison with the rest of the cities. The cost of an apartment seems to be almost 25% higher than in other cities of Ontario.
    • On average, meal cost for the given cities falls in the same line. 
    • Monthly transportation charges are maximum for Toronto but Ottawa and Hamilton are not far off.

    Even with the most expensive cities like Toronto, the cost of living in Ontario is far more affordable than in European countries. The University of Toronto is the most preferred university and is ranked 34th in the QS list. Toronto has plenty of job opportunities for international students in Canada.

    Cost of Living in Alberta, Canada

    From Calgary to St. Albert, there are various educational institutions in the province of Alberta. Anyone landing in Alberta must have good knowledge about the cost of living in Alberta. The cost of living in Canada incurred by international students choosing to study in Alberta is detailed below.

    Accommodation Costs in Alberta

    Short term stay

    Accommodation type Price range (CAD)/per night
    Hotel 45 – 420
    Bread and breakfast stay 40 – 250
    Hostel 30 – 190

    Long term stay

    Accommodation type Price range (CAD)/per month
    Homestay 850 – 2,000
    Rented Apartment (1 BHK) 500 – 1,500
    Residence (On – Campus) 6,000 – 12,000 (per 8 months)

    Food Expenses in Alberta

    Based on two famous cities of Alberta – Edmonton, and Calgary, an average estimate for Alberta household consumption is prepared.

    Detailed Household Consumption Expenditure

    Items Rates (CAD)
    Grocery 375 per month
    Milk 2.11 per liter
    Basic meal (3-course) 65 – 80
    Non-alcoholic beverage 2.5
    Alcoholic beverage 7 – 9

    Transportation Charges in Alberta

    Mode of transport Charges (CAD)
    Gas for self-driven vehicles 1.16 per liter
    Monthly ticket in public transport 98
    8 km taxi trip, basic tariff (business day) 3.5

    Healthcare Charges in Alberta

    International Students, as well as students from Canadian Province other than Alberta, are eligible to apply for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan coverage under the following conditions only:-

    International students:

    • Students having a 12-month Study Permit are eligible to apply for the AHCIP.
    • Students having a Study Permit of more than 3 months and less than 12 months are eligible to apply for AHCIP if they make an application with an official declaration of their intention of staying in Alberta for at least 12 months.
    • The coverage will be activated on the date of entry into Alberta or on the date signed on the Study Permit, on condition that the application has been received within 3 months of entry into Alberta.

    Coverage plan includes:

    • Alberta Aids to Daily Living
    • Drug coverage and supplementary health benefits
    • Continuing care system
    • Protection for Persons in Care
    • Health benefits and services
    • Primary health care
    • Alberta Blood Program

    Student Expenses in Alberta

    The cost of education in Alberta is relatively lower than in other provinces of Canada. The tuition fee for different institutions in Alberta lies in the given range.

    Type of institute Tuition costs (CAD)
    Colleges 9,750 – 26,560
    Technical Institutes 11,100 – 18,750
    Universities 11,780 – 45,208

    The estimate of the tuition cost for international students at the top institutes of Alberta:-

    The living cost of a student with no dependents and excluding accommodation lies somewhere near CAD 332 monthly as a miscellaneous expenditure.

    Cost of Living in 5 Alberta Cities

    When compared within the top five cities, the cost estimates for living in Alberta, Canada are as follows:

    City Apartment Rent (1 bedroom) (CAD) Meal Cost (Three-course Meal) (CAD) Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass) (CAD)
    Calgary 975 80 103
    Edmonton 775 65 94
    St. Albert 600 65 73
    Canmore 500 60 80
    Medicine Hat 500 80 71

    The comparison suggests that Calgary has come out to be the most expensive city in terms of housing and public transportation. The food expenses are much affordable in Alberta. Alberta has always been a great place to live for international students. It offers higher income and has lower expenses with affordable housing. So, before packing your luggage, have a close look at these details and choose the city that best suits you.

    Cost of Living in Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, Canada

    In New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia, residents can live a comfortable life with a modest income as the cost of living in these cities is low, in fact, the lowest in Canada. The minimum wages are for New Brunswick is CAD 10.30/hr. The city has the highest graduation rate in Canada. It has two official languages – English and French. In Nova Scotia, the cost of living is quite low but education is costly. The undergraduate tuition fee is the highest at Nova-Scotia Universities in Canada when compared with other provinces.

    Accommodation Costs in New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia

    For Short Term Stay

    Type of Accommodation Price Range (CAD)/night
    Nova Scotia New Brunswick
    Hotels 95 to 449 64 to 130
    Bed & Breakfast 54 to 359 36 to 147
    Hostels 29 to 75 49 to 99

    For Long Term Stay

    Type of Accommodation Price Range (CAD)/month
    Nova Scotia New Brunswick
    Homestay 500 to 950 520 to 900
    Residence 700 to 3500 550 to 3200
    Rented Apartment 525 to 2240 450 to 2100

    Living in Canada in New Brunswick or Nova-Scotia as mentioned previously is cheaper as rents are drastically lower than other provinces.  

    Food Expenses in New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia

    Estimated Rates (CAD)
    Nova Scotia New Brunswick
    Alcoholic beverages 800 (Monthly) 750 (Monthly)
    Mid-range restaurant three-course meal 55 (Three-course meal) 55 (Three-course meal)
    Grocery (vegetables & fruits) 70.38 (per Kg) 69.50 (per Kg)
    Milk 2.33 (Per Liter) 2.30 (Per Liter)
    Water 1.50 (1.5 liter bottle) 1.30 (1.5 liter bottle)

    Transportation Charges in New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia

    Mode of Transport Adult Charges (CAD)
    Nova Scotia New Brunswick
    Local Transport (One-way ticket) 2.62
    Monthly Pass 217.39 80.00
    Normal Taxi Tariff 4.50 7.00
    Normal Taxi Tariff for 1km 1.70 1.00
    Normal Taxi Tariff for 1 hour 32.50 60.00

    Healthcare Charges in New Brunswick and Nova-Scotia

    Healthcare in Canada is publically funded by both the federal and provincial governments. Students can apply for the Nova Scotia Health Card as soon as they arrive in Canada. They can also apply for private healthcare insurance of their own. Nova Scotia’s Medical Service Insurance is the provincial plan and pays for the cost of:-

    • Medically required doctors’ services
    • Some dental and optometric services
    • The doctor referred specialist visits
    • Certain hospital in-patient and out-patient services

    For Universities in New Brunswickinternational students will get medical care but only after they have lived in New Brunswick for three months. There is no fee for Medicare, which covers hospital and physician costs.

    Student Expenses in Nove Scotia & New Brunswick

    With a high quality of life, Nova Scotia is one of the most affordable places to live in Canada. The average undergraduate tuition fee for international students is CAD 24,133, on the other hand, for graduate students, it is around CAD 12,000 per year. Whereas, in New Brunswick, all the international students have to pay the average tuition fee of around CAD 12,480 to CAD 16,090. Apart from the tuition fee, the rough estimate of students' other expenses both in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is around CAD 700 per month.

    Cost of Living in 5 Cities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

    The cost of living in 5 different cities of Nova Scotia in CAD is discussed and compared in the table below:

    City Apartment Rent (1 Bedroom) Meal Cost (3-Course Meal) Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
    Clark’s Harbour 1500 70 145
    Stellarton 1150 60 100
    New Glasgow 950 60 101
    Pictou 1100 65 79
    Wolfville 1350 80 96

    The cost of living in 5 different cities of New Brunswick in CAD is discussed and compared below:

    City Apartment Rent (1 Bedroom) Meal Cost (3-Course Meal) Transportation Charges (Monthly Pass)
    Moncton 2,000 75 63
    Saint John 1,500 60 77
    Fredericton 1,500 65 80
    St. George 1030 55 75
    Miramichi 900 90 90
    • In both the tables, Clark’s Harbour and Moncton are considered to be the most expensive cities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick respectively.
    • There is no major difference between the meal costs of both cities. 
    • Monthly transport charges of Nova Scotia when compared to New Brunswick, are higher than the latter.

    Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are the two provinces that might not have large surface area but offer a quality of life and education in modest expenditure with affordable lifestyle options to control your cost of living in Canada

    Cost of Living in Quebec, Canada

    Quebec is Canada’s largest province with a multicultural population and is popularly recognized as “Europe of North America”. This province has the most affordable and prominent educational system in North America.

    The CEGEP system of Quebec offers free pre-university and vocational programs to make education universally accessible. The average yearly tuition fee paid by a student of Quebec is the lowest in Canada. This makes Quebec the best place for the students to pursue their studies. 

    Additionally, the affordable housing market in Quebec makes it much easier for the students to complete their education and shape their careers.

    Accommodation Costs in Quebec

    For Short Term Stay

    Accommodation Type Price Range (CAD)/per night
    Hotels 60 to 220
    Bed and Breakfast stay 30 to 120
    Hostel 15 to 30

    For Long Term Stay

    Accommodation Type Price Range (CAD)
    Homestay 450 to 900 per month
    Residence/Dormitory 2,000 to 6,000 per year
    Rented Apartment 500 to 1,500 per month

    Quebec has been one of the most affordable cities in Canada offers some of the best housing deals. On average, the buying price of houses in Quebec City costs around CAD 2,495 per square meter. Housing rents in Quebec City are lower than in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

    Accommodation Type Average Monthly Rent (CAD)
    Studio 546
    1 Bedroom 666
    2 Bedrooms7 88
    3 Bedrooms 930

    Food Expenses in Quebec

    Food Articles Rates (CAD)
    Non-alcoholic beverages 1.88 (0.33-liter bottle)
    Alcoholic beverages 24
    Mid-range restaurants (for 2 people) 60
    Grocery (vegetables, fruits, eggs, rice, cheese, chicken, beef) 68 – 70 (per kg)
    A loaf of Bread 3.44
    Milk 2.30/ Liter
    Water 2.15 (0.5-liter bottle)

    Quebec is known for its delicious delicacies and little inexpensive cafes with a high-end restaurant menu. You will get the best meal at the most affordable cost.

    Transportation Charges in Quebec


    The city has a 4 lines metro network with 68 metro stations which will help you cover the city quite comfortably. You can choose to travel by bus as well as these are easily available 24X7.

    Mode of Transport - Bus Adult Charges (CAD)
    Monthly Pass 82 (Opus Card)
    Weekly Pass 25.50 (Opus Card)
    Single Trip 3.25

    Quebec City

    The city has local buses and taxis as public transport. However, those who prefer private transport may opt for rental cars, motorcycles, or cycles.

    Mode of Transport - Bus Adult Charges (CAD)
    One-Way Ticket (Bus) 3.38
    Monthly Pass 86.50
    Taxi 3.45

    Healthcare Charges in Quebec

    Students are suggested to arrange a health and hospitalization plan valid in Canada. Students can also get covered in their CEGEP’s Group Health and Hospitalization Insurance Plan for International Students. CEGEPs does not accept any foreign health insurance. The estimated annual fee for enrolment in the Group Health and Hospitalization Insurance Plan is CAD 936.

    Basic Coverage

    The following services are reimbursed without any deduction.

    • Hospital Expense
    • Physician
    • Psychiatry
    • Dental Care
    • Maternity
    • Nursing Care
    • Ambulance
    • Anesthetic
    • HIV
    • Renal Dialysis

    For foreign students, the insurance is effective 15 days prior to the commencement of the program and 15 days after the program completes.  The insurance is effective 24X7 in Canada. It remains valid even if the student stays temporarily out of Canada.

    Student Expenses in Quebec

    On average, an international student spends between CAD 8,200 to CAD 10,500 for five courses per semester. Other than tuition fees additional expenses on different amenities like fitness, park, recreational activities, etc. also add up to the student’s expense. An average estimate of additional services could be approx. CAD 17,013 annually.

    Cost of Living in 5 Cities of Quebec

    The cost of living in Canada’s largest provinces top five cities are discussed below:

    City Apartment Rent (1-Bedroom) Meal Cost (3-Course Meal) Transportation Charge (Monthly Pass)
    Quebec City CAD 525-700 CAD 60 CAD 87
    Montreal CAD 709-1,050 CAD 60 CAD 85
    Saguenay CAD 485-375 CAD 60 CAD 68 - CAD 70
    Sherbrooke CAD 430-450 CAD 55 CAD 74
    Gatineau CAD 685-790 CAD 50-60 CAD 95

    Montreal is considered to be the most expensive city in Quebec province.

    • Housing rent in Montreal is slightly higher than the other cities in Quebec.
    • The cost of the meal is almost same in all the listed cities.
    • Transportation charge is maximum in Gatineau while Quebec City and Montreal have almost the same transportation expense.

    Cost of Living in Saskatchewan, Canada

    Saskatchewan has a low cost of living when compared to other parts of Canada. The province enjoys a low unemployment rate along with steady population growth to increase the job market. Considering Saskatoon, a city of Saskatchewan, includes low utility costs, low commuting costs, and low car insurance payments. Provincial taxes are lower than in other provinces in Canada. It levies only 5% tax in the name of sales. 

    Saskatchewan, homes several prestigious academic institutions, It receives huge international footfall every year. But, before stepping into any of the cities of this province, you need to gather some details about the average expenditure required during the stay as a temporary student.

    Accommodation Costs in Saskatchewan

    Short-term stay

    Type of housing Charges (CAD)/night
    Hotel 36 to 244
    Hostel 32
    Bed and breakfast stay 55 to 105

    Long-term stay

    Type of housing Charges (CAD)/month
    Homestay 800
    Residence 3,000 (8 Months)
    Rent Apartment 950

    Food Expenses in Saskatchewan

    Based on the comparison of two famous cities in Saskatchewan – Saskatoon, and Regina, an overall average estimate for Saskatchewan household consumption is calculated.

    Item Charges (CAD)
    Milk 2.11 per liter
    Water 2.5 per bottle of 1.5 liter
    Grocery and miscellaneous 90
    Full-course lunchtime menu (drinks included) 72.50
    Beverage (alcoholic) 18
    Beverage (non-alcoholic) 2.51

    Transportation Charges in Saskatchewan

    Mode of Transport Cost (CAD)
    Gas for self-driven vehicles 1.29 per liter
    One – Way ticket 3.25
    Monthly ticket pass of public transport 80
    Taxi trip (on business days) 23

    Healthcare Charges in Saskatchewan

    All international students must have medical insurance while studying in Canada. Each province has its own healthcare plans. What is covered under the plan:-

    • Visit doctor
    • Medical specialists
    • Hospital stays
    • Medical procedures

    What is not covered under the plan:-

    • Dental care
    • Prescription eyeglasses
    • Non-prescription drugs
    • Ambulance service

    The students even have the facility to buy private insurance.

    Student Expenses in Saskatchewan

    Saskatchewan is home to more than a few highly esteemed educational institutes. The expenses required to be handled by the international students admitted to different programs in the top universities and colleges in the province are given below in detail.

    Name of the Institute Tuition fees (CAD)
    University of Saskatchewan 17,504
    University of Regina 20,200
    First Nations University of Canada Around 20,000
    Saskatchewan Polytechnic 14,143
    Campion College Follows the fees structure of the University of Regina

    Apart from tuition fees, other miscellaneous charges including utilities and clothing vary around CAD 600.

    Cost of living of 5 Cities in Saskatchewan

    The cost of living in Canada in Saskatchewan are compared below:

    Name of the city Rental charges per month (1 bedroom apartment) (CAD) Meal cost (three-course meal) (CAD) Transportation (monthly pass in public transport) (CAD)
    Saskatoon 949 65 83
    Regina 1,000 60 92
    Prince Albert 750 60 62
    Moose Jaw 700 55 65
    Yorkton 900 55 60

    Comparison suggests that

    • Regina takes the first position while calculating the average rent for a 1BHK apartment.
    • Meal costs are relatively average and quite affordable for the students. Also, there is not much difference in the meals of other cities in Saskatchewan.
    • Transportation cost is much higher in the cities – Saskatoon and Regina, for other cities, there is not much of the difference in the charges.

    Saskatchewan has always been one of the favorite places to stay and study for international students. Before you book your ticket to any of the cities of this province, make sure you have gathered plenty of details about the basic expenses which you are going to manage while living there.

    All in all, Toronto, even though it is amongst the most expensive cities in Canada, it still has a high concentration of international students. Most of the famous universities of Canada are present in Toronto, therefore, Toronto is one of the best cities to study in Canada.

    Ontario is the most expensive province in Canada while the cost of living is affordable in Quebec. From tuition fees to the 5 factors for judging the cost of living, Quebec is well affordable. The French-dominated province is home to some well-known universities such as McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the University of Quebec. According to a survey, Ottawa and St. Albert are considered to be ideal for accommodation. Cities like Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary are not far behind Toronto in education.