Author Archives: britsintoronto

Brexit update: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”

Brexit update

We’ll meeeeet again, don’t know wherrrre, don’t know whe — oh, sorry, we probably won’t

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on Brexit and pensioners in Canada who receive the UK State Pension.

I was recently speaking to my octogenarian friend James the other day (you may remember that I first introduced you to James in the Ouch! How Brexit is hurting UK pensioners in Canada and in the later article James and I go to London), and I said to him what a quintessentially European phrase, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” really is, although its origins seem to come from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2005.

What has this got to do with the UK State Pension which is what James and I always end up talking about? You see, he is a British military chap and he is usually found frothing at the mouth because he has found out that if he had stayed in the UK rather than retiring here to Canada he would be more than £31,000 better off in terms of his UK State Pension; using historic exchange rates, this converts to over $56,000 — not a trifling amount by any means.

If James lived south of the Niagara Falls (in the US) he would have been getting the annual increases to his UK State Pension. Instead, he chose to live north of the Falls, here in Canada and he hasn’t been getting the annual increases, and his UK State Pension has been “frozen.” How unfair is that?

James has been reading about Brexit and that got him thinking about UK pensioners living in Europe. There are 496,000 pensioners living in Europe who are in receipt of a UK State Pension:

Pensioners stats

Source: Dept. of Work and Pensions

Once the UK drops out of Europe, then, technically, the UK government no longer has a legal obligation to continue giving these pensioners the annual inflationary increase. This year the increase is 3%, so, for anyone getting their UK State Pension based on the pre-2016 Pensions Bill, this means an increase of just over £190 per year. Those who have retired after April 2016 will receive up to an estimated £260.

These pensioners are not happy about the possibility of them losing the annual increase, and there are a number of European pension lobby groups who are petitioning the UK Parliament.

The European Parliament and the UK Government have agreed that the UK government will continue to “export benefits” which includes the annual increase to the UK State Pension, and that has been drafted into the Withdrawal Bill which is currently before the UK Parliament. This is fine as long as the Withdrawal Bill is enacted.

However, Brexit negotiations are currently getting bogged down with negotiating a trade agreement. If the negotiations are not all completed by March 27, 2019, then the UK could fall out of the EU, and the Withdrawal Bill could be in limbo. So, where would this leave the pensioners living in Europe who receive a UK State Pension?

There are 540,000 pensioners living in 120 countries who do not receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension (larger image):

Countries affected small

Source: International Consortium of British Pensioners

As you can see, Canada is one of those countries (where there are 144,000 “frozen” pensioners). The pension lobby groups that I represent are watching very carefully to see what Brexit delivers in terms of the annual UK State Pension increase.

Technically, the pensioners living in Europe will be joining all the other “frozen” UK pensioners in the world, and the number would then swell to over one million unhappy pensioners — not a pleasant sight!

The UK Government has said that as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, they will negotiate “bilateral agreements” with European countries such that the pensioners living in Europe will continue to receive their annual UK State Pension increase. What James and many others are asking: “Why them, and not us?”

If you think that you are going to be affected by the UK “frozen” pension policy, and would like to help us in our fight, please check out the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners and they may be able to help you …

Where do you stand on this? Nigel can be reached:

E-mail: nigel AT britishpensions DOT COM






Successful Brits in Toronto: Ryan Wheeler

Ryan Wheeler

“Express yourself, create the space, you know you can win, don’t give up the chase. Beat the man, take him on, you never give up, it’s one on one!”

We put the call out for more Successful Brits in Toronto, and what do you know? Ryan Wheeler stepped up.

It took a few days to hear from him … but then the reason became clear with his reply: “Sorry guys, been off sick with some dreaded cold!”

So, after sending our thoughts and prayers to Ryan, we hassled him a bit more and got his answers to our deep questions below and the striking photo you see above. Looks like he’s pretty handy at football.

Let’s find out more …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

It was a spur of the moment decision. My girlfriend and I had just gotten home from work, we were tired, grouchy and generally fed up of leaving work at 5:00 p.m. Not to mention the perpetual rain and overcast skies to really drive home the misery of a day.

One of our friends had moved here a year prior and we spent a while speaking with them on Messenger about their experiences. After this, we decided Toronto was the only option. Fortunately a week later the IEC visa was opening and we went about applying for that.

We had initially planned to stay for as long as the visa would run with an idea we would stay if we enjoyed our time, but we told family we were wanting to move here for good.

After our first year we decided being here permanently was what we wanted and we applied for permanent residency as soon as we were able to. Next stop, citizenship.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Initially we waited for a month after landing before applying for any jobs. We wanted to take in the sights of the city and surrounding areas without the stress of work lingering over.

Once I had started sending my resume out, it was a slightly tedious process. I applied for several jobs daily. Editing cover letters and countless edits of my CV to match the job role without much reward.

Eventually I talked to a recruitment agency to see if they had anything open to matching my skill set and experience and they secured me an interview for a temporary position with a large insurance company with the chance to make it a permanent role at the end of the temporary period.

After I went on this interview I got two more interviews with recruitment agencies themselves as a consultant. Must have been the British accent that enticed them to take a chance, haha.

I decided to take a position with a recruitment agency, as it was full time and a skilled position. Both of which were needed in applying for the coveted permanent residency.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

It’s just a lovely city. The areas I’ve lived in and visited are all clean and friendly. There are little pockets of settled nationalities all over the place so you can go and experience something new often and as frequently as you want with a usually very accessible transit service.

The worst aspect of being in Toronto I’ve found so far is the period of time between late February to mid March. It’s a time where the weather goes from 12 degrees one day to -5 degrees over the next few days. So it really plays with my willingness to adapt to the cold. In the depth of winter at -30 degrees I can handle it, I know it’s going to be cold.

In the summer when it’s close to 35 degrees, I can deal with it, because I know it’s going to be warm. It’s just that little void between those dates that mean I can no longer handle it being 1 degree because two days ago it was 10 degrees and I was in shorts.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I don’t go out of my way to meet up with new Brits in Toronto. However when I first came to the city I was made aware of a football team looking for new players and I went there in my first week to train with the lads.

For anyone new and interested in football, I’d recommend trying out for a team if you wanted to play to a good standard.

There are also companies like Toronto Sport and Social Club, who advertise a light and friendly atmosphere for all types of sporting activities throughout each change of season, where you can drop in when a team needs a player and meet like-minded groups of people, all welcoming with open arms to enjoy some sports at a recreational to advanced levels and then go for a beer or two afterwards.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Buy good winter gear and make the most of the summers!

Totally biased product review by me — Dorset Drum

Dorset Drum

You can now buy photography prop stands that look exactly like bathroom towel racks

It’s time for another totally biased review and we have an aged cheddar cheese called Dorset Drum on the podium today.

Wandering around Loblaws, our eye was immediately drawn to the Union Jack on the packaging, a sure sign of potential quality. Unfortunately, we were a bit let down in this instance.

The Brits in Toronto crew like our aged cheddar to crumble as easily as an Arsenal back four, but this one didn’t. It’s kind of rubbery and doesn’t taste that aged at all.

Not a fan so we give it a Brits in Toronto 1/5 stars.

Win two tickets to music documentary Something Left Behind and Q&A with David Gedge from The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

He left something behind but we’re not sure what

It’s contest time!

On Saturday, March 24, The Wedding Present are playing a concert at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Earlier that day at 2:00 p.m., there is a screening at the Carlton Cinema of their brand new documentary, Something Left Behind. It tells the story of the making of their much-heralded debut album George Best, and reflects on the past 30 years in the music business. The Facebook event page is here, and tickets are available here.

At the end of the film attendees will be joined by David Gedge, original founding member of the band, and Andrew Jezard, the filmmaker.

What’s not to like about that?! Want the chance to win two free tickets to attend the screening?

Just comment below or tweet Brits in Toronto why you want to go in one word or more and we’ll pick an entry at random on March 22 and connect you with the generous PR person who offered the prize.

Good luck and here’s a sneak peek of the film:

Let’s all help fellow Brit Flo find a job!


 “I love food, me. Really do. Events with food are even better, seriously, because I’m looking for a job in that area. Ta!”

New month, new Brit looking for a job in Toronto. Let’s all help Flo as she prepares to cross the pond and try life in this fair city.

She writes:

“Hope you’re well and the weather’s on the turn for you! We’ve had a spot of snow over here (I’m based in SW England, in Bristol) the last few days, but I’m sure I’ll be laughing at these light dustings come the end of the year when I’ll be living in Toronto.

“Could I have started this e-mail in any more of a British manner?

“I came across your blog earlier this week, and never one to turn down an opportunity and a bit of help, I thought I’d ask if you wouldn’t mind helping me out with sharing my details in the search for a job for when I move this coming May?

“My LinkedIn page is here.

“I’m looking for something events related, although not necessarily corporate events! And if I can incorporate my love of food within it, even better!”

So, if you know of a good opportunity for Flo please e-mail her at flo_greenland AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk and tell her Brits in Toronto sent you, cheers.

BritBox Launches in Canada


We see the bloke from The Sweeney, multiple Doctor Whos, a future James Bond and some others. Stick th’ kettle on luv, top telly tonight!

Our Valentine’s Day gift to you, dear reader, is the news that BritBox has launched in Canada. *smooch*


“BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and ITV, the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, announced today the launch of BritBox in Canada. The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service will bring Canadians the very finest and largest collection of British TV available in the market today.

“Soumya Sriraman, President, BritBox North America, said, ‘We know that Canadians have a deep affinity for British culture and the extraordinary television programs produced in the UK, so launching BritBox in Canada has always been at the top of our list. The fact that we can also, for the first time ever, premiere some of the most popular British programs and big special events such as Trooping the Colour as soon as 24 hours after their UK premiere is – hopefully – the cherry on the sundae.'”

You can read more about the launch here.

VisitBritain launches the “I Travel For …” tourism campaign


The theme of the new campaign is “I Travel For …” [insert what you travel to Great Britain for]

On Tuesday evening VisitBritain launched a new marketing campaign in Canada to boost tourism to Great Britain and Brits in Toronto was invited along to check it out.

The “I Travel For…” digital marketing campaign was officially launched at an evening reception at The Spoke Club hosted by VisitBritain with the British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque CMG.

As well as VisitBritain’s campaign launch, the event showcased GREAT British food and drink in collaboration with the UK Government’s Department for International Trade and Scottish Development International.

Also in attendance were Gavin Landry, Executive Vice President, Americas, VisitBritain; Kevin McGurgan, the British Consul-General in Toronto and Director-General for Department for International Trade Canada; Dana Dickerson, Lead Trade Officer for Food & Drink at the British Consulate in Toronto; Liz Chester, Marketing Manager, British Consulate in Toronto (back when she was looking for a job); and — last but not least — Melissa Grelo, Co-Host of The Social and Your Morning on CTV (tweets express her views and not those of her employer).

Brits in Toronto had a really good chinwag and one manly hug with four out of those six people, before attempting to video the launch promo reel, getting 50% in and then cringing as our phone battery died.

Luckily, it’s online too:

Once the business part of the evening was over, it was time for the pleasure. Sourced from the UK, all of these food and drink products were showcased, providing guests with a taste of what visitors can expect while travelling to Britain in 2018. These products are also available to purchase in Canada! (Tell ’em Brits in Toronto sent you for zero $ off but gets our name out there a bit more, cheers.)




Do you travel to meet the British locals?


Or travel to be an extra in Quadrophenia 2: The Dads Return For A Rumble

Fish and chips

British event? Must be some posh fish and chips somewh — oh, thank you


Haggis on mashed potato with jus and forked peas you say? Don’t mind if I do


Bone-in lamb with some extra lamb on the side? Think I just have room …


Tons of cheese? No, I really can’t, getting a bit stuffed mate. Oh go on then you cheeky bugger!


Oh sir, it’s only wafer thin


Scottish whisky. Check


Welsh whisky. Check


4:23 a.m. on a work night, but with a brilliant swag bag

All in all … a brilliant launch party and we hope that our readers check out some of the products showcased and Brits in the UK see the great job that Brits in Toronto are doing here to encourage people to visit the UK. (That got a bit confusing.)