Life in Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world. More than 80% of Canadians live in cities and more than two-thirds of the population live within 100 kilometers of the southern border. Canadians have one of the highest standards of living in the world and rank in the top ten for the world’s happiest country!

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What to do before arrival

Moving to a new country can feel overwhelming. Whether you are coming to Canada as a Canadian permanent resident or a temporary foreign worker there are a few things you can do to ease into this transition, such as preparing important documents and finding a place to live for when you arrive, even if only a temporary place. Important documents to take with you to Canada include:

  • Your passport;
  • Birth certificate;
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable);
  • Driver’s license (if applicable); and
  • Educational degrees/diplomas/certificates/transcripts.

Note that you will often need original certified translations in either English or French. This translation should be done in the country issuing the document needed.

Arrange Accommodation

You may not have a permanent place to stay before your big move, and that’s okay. If you don’t have friends or family to stay with when you arrive, you may want to find temporary housing. Temporary accommodations allow you to get to know the city while you look for a permanent place to stay.

What to do upon arrival

Once you get to Canada there are some important items to get in order.

Getting your Social Insurance Number

Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is the single most important piece of information you’ll have upon your arrival in Canada. If you are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a temporary resident, you need a SIN to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs. There is no fee to receive a SIN. You will simply need to go to a local Service Canada office with required documents, such as your permanent resident card or work permit. As you should keep your number confidential, it’s probably best to memorize the number and keep it in a safe place. The Canadian government, employers, and financial institutions may ask for your SIN. It is important to keep your SIN updated with your employer and bank. If you are a temporary foreign worker, your SIN will be valid for the same period as your Canadian work authorization.

Opening a Bank Account

You’ll want to open a bank account in Canada to have a safe place for your money and start building a credit score. Your current bank may have branches in Canada or even a partner bank. Canadian banks charge fees for different services, and every bank is different. Before choosing a bank you’ll want to compare their services and fees. Most people in Canada have two bank accounts: a checkings account and a savings account. Checking accounts are usually linked to a debit card/ Interac, and saving accounts are usually interest-bearing accounts to keep money for emergencies or large, future purchase.

Most Canadian also have credit cards. A credit card may be offered by your bank. Make sure to read through your credit card terms to avoid fees and build a good credit score. In Canada as in other countries, your ability to receive financing for items such as cars and homes, will depend on your credit score. If you are looking for a place to rent, your prospective landlord can even ask to check your credit report before renting to you.

Getting a Driver’s License

The steps to getting a Canadian driver’s license will depend on the province or territory in which you intend to live. Generally, you will need to take a written exam and perform a driving test. Anyone driving in Canada must have car insurance. The price of insurance varies and is in part dependent on your age and driving record.

Looking for Work

If you haven’t already found work before arriving in Canada, there are several job search tools to use. Once you find a job posting you want to apply to, you’ll need to ensure that your cover letter and resume meet North American standards and match the job in which you are applying.

Did you know?

If you are a Canadim client you will have access to work one-on-one with our employment counsellor who will help you with every step of the job search process!

Finding Accommodation

You should have arranged some temporary accommodations before arriving in Canada. Once you get here though, you’ll want to find more permanent accommodation options.

Health and Social Services

Canada offers a wide-range of health and social services including health care, education, unemployment insurance, and senior care. If you are arriving in Canada as a permanent resident, you can apply for Canada’s universal health care through the province or territory in which you reside. Note that there can be up to a three month wait time for coverage. Canada’s social service programs aim to integrate newcomers into Canadian society. If you want to improve your language skills, English and French courses are available both part- and full-time. These language classes are government funded and are available to new permanent residents. If you have children, there may also be a free or reduced charge option for childcare while you take your language class.

Canadian Education System

Canada’s educational system is composed of three sections: primary, secondary and post-secondary. As Canada’s educational system is provincially funded, education systems vary depending on which province you live in. By law, Canadian children are required to attend school. However, the age of compulsory education varies slightly between the provinces. With some exceptions, children between the ages of five and 18 must attend school. In most provinces, primary school, also known as elementary school, runs from Kindergarten (ages five or six) to Grade 8 (ages 13 to 14).

Secondary school, also known as high school, then runs from Grade 9 (ages 14 to 15) to Grade 12 (ages 17 to 18). This may vary by province, so if you have school-aged children, you should absolutely take some time to research the education system in your destination province. Primary school and most of secondary school are compulsory for all Canadian children, while pursuing post-secondary education, such as university or college, is optional.

Canadian Economy

Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The service sector makes up two-thirds of the economy and natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas are major exports. The United States is Canada’s closest trading partner, which is why U.S. citizens and permanent residents have some immigration advantages in Canada. As the second largest country in the world, the Canadian economy varies greatly by province and territory as each region possesses different assets.

Taxation in Canada

Canadian taxation is based on your residency and runs from January 1st to December 31st. If you are residing in Canada, you should file a tax return each year by the deadline of April 30th. You are required to include both income from inside and outside of Canada.

Newcomer Services

Canada offers some of the best newcomer services in the world. These are services designed to help new immigrants find housing and jobs, improve their language skills, help file taxes, enroll children in school, and much more. These programs are government funded and vary by province and territory.

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