Just Different, Part 3

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Here ya go... a few more of those intruiging little differences I've noticed between Canada and Australia...

Speed Limits. In Australia, 60 means 60 (as some of us have found out the hard way, eh Dave?) Not only that but 80 means 80, 100 means 100, and 110 means 110. With an inordinate number of fixed speed cameras dotted around Sydney, you exceed these speed limits at your peril...

Not so in Canada it seems. From what we've seen, the equivalent police presence to our Highway Patrols here has been minimal at best. When we first arrived I was quite used to driving exactly to the speed limit as my current Australian , ahem, "licence situation" had conditioned me to do so.

The speed limit on the freeways here is supposed to be 100km/h, but if you do that speed, even in the slow lane, you will be continually overtaken by the other traffic. Oh, and try doing 100k in the fast lane and you'll get run over! The real speed limit seems to be somewhere between 115 and 120 km/h. We caught a cab into downtown Toronto a while back and the driver was sitting just under 130k... Donna was quietly freaking out in the back seat so I casually asked the cabbie what the speed limit was. "100", he replied. He went on to explain that police rarely bother anyone doing under 120, since it's just not worth their while... they only pursue drivers who are speeding dangerously. Driving along the 401 the other night doing about 115 in a 100 zone , I was unexpectedly passed by a Police car as he came up behind me and cruised past, so the cabbie's advice seems to be consistent.

What I like about this Canadian approach is that it focuses on nabbing people who actually do dangerous stuff, and not, as is the case with Australian approach to speeding, simply to raise revenue by fining people for exceeding some arbitrarily low speed limit but who are otherwise driving quite safely. What a concept!

Paying Bills. I've been a bit spoilt back home with the many options we have for paying bills. By far the best method, in my opinion, is BPay. From what I can see here in Canada from the bills we've received so far, there is no real equivalent to BPay. For anyone unfamiliar, most organisations in Australia have a BPay Biller Code number printed on their bills so that you can log onto your internet backing service, type in the Biller Code, type the account number, choose a payment type (usually a credit card), and click, the bill is instantly paid.

Although we have a Canadian bank account which offers Internet banking, the bills that arrive at the house don't have a similar system to BPay so there's no real mecahnism in place to easily pay them online. If you flip over an Australian bill, there is generally a list of options on the back for various ways you can pay that bill - phone banking, internet banking, direct credit, BPay, mail a cheque, etc. All the bills that we received here in Canada so far basically say "go to the bank and pay this". Which is a bit annoying since we have been trying to put all our financials on our Visa debit card. Not being able to do something as seemingly obvious as paying a bill using Visa means we have had to rethink our money strategy a little...

I found out today that you CAN in fact pay bills via Internet banking here, but you have to first go to the bank and individually register each biller onto your account. I guess that kind of resolves the problem; I just thought it was unusual that you can't do it directly from the bill itself, nor have any other options as to how you pay it, like Visa.

Mind you, the customer service levels are 1000% better in Canadian banks! Our banks back home could certainly learn a few lessons from them on that score!

Waffles. So much more than just a breakfast food! I was expecting that a traditional Canadian breakfast would entail a large stack of pancakes, drowned in maple syrup. So far I don't think I've even seen a pancake! Instead, the breaky of choice seems to be waffles. Buy 'em in the supermarket, pop 'em in the toaster, drown 'em in syrup. Yum.
Of course, we have waffles in Australia too, but we tended to eat them as a desert, or even a snack. We never ate waffles very often back home, but we did have them occasionally. And when there were in the fridge the kids would woof into them pretty much any time, including after school. But in Canada, they are pretty much just breakfast food.

So it was pretty amusing the other day when Kate had a few friends over after school and Donna enthusiastically asked them, "Who'd like waffles?", only to be met with a bunch of quizzical stares. Waffles? For an afternoon snack?! No thanks...
Mind you, I can still have an appetite for waffles anytime. Matter of fact, I got it now.

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