First Steps in Canada: Checklist for a Newcomer

It is fulfilling to know that in some way or another, what I put up in my blog has helped a few people… I will take it as an assurance that my blog site is serving it’s purpose… when I came out with the very first post about immigrating to Canada, I actually didn’t think of doing a series, however, the emails that I received after posting the Immigrating to Canada- How Do I Start? gave me an idea to just come up with a follow up post instead of responding to every email I received.

Now, that have completed the said 5-post series, there are other questions that I would like to address,  let’s assume that you have submitted your application to immigrate, it has been processed and your application has been approved. You have now landed to Canada, what is next for you, then? I thought of coming up with a checklist, to provide an idea to a newcomer in Canada the important things that he should do once he get off the plane and step foot in Canada.Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 4.40.46 PM

Here are some of the things that you should do on your first few weeks in Canada:

  • When you arrive in the airport make sure that you visit the newcomer welcome center.  When my family and I arrived in Canada, the first people to welcome us in Vancouver International Airport were the people from Community Airport Newcomers Network (CANN), they provided us with a welcome package with booklets and pamphlets that provided us with useful information about what should a newcomer do.  On the other hand, if your port of entry is Toronto, you will be welcomed by the Immigration Reception and Information Services (IRIS) in Toronto Pearson International Airport. The kit containing pamphlets or booklets will be very useful resources to help you in your first days in Canada.
  • Though most immigrants I know already have temporary accommodation after landing, I would say that you also learn about the housing and start looking for longer-term rental or know how to buy a house or a condominium.
  • Ensure that you have provided your complete and correct address in Canada to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) so you can be sure that you will receive your permanent residence (PR) card in the mail.
  • Explore the town or city that you are in, obtain a street map and telephone directory to help you get to know your place and how and where to search for establishments and services.
  • Learn about the available transportation options in your town or city, most Canadian cities have local bus service as a way of public transport. The use of taxicabs are also popular in Canada, there’s a handful of taxicab companies licensed in Canada and each cities has their local companies that they can contact for this services. On the other hand, there are Canadian cities that have train systems to help Canadian go around the city. Quebec (Montreal Metro), Toronto (Toronto Subway) and Vancouver (Sky Train) has rapid rail systems, while three cities have light rail systems – Calgary (C-Train), Edmonton (Edmonton LRT) and Ontario (O-Train) and commuter trains serve the cities and surrounding areas of Montreal (Agence métropolitaine de transport), Toronto (GO Transit) and Vancouver (West Coast Express).
  • Learn how to make telephone calls and keep important numbers handy. In Canada, the most important number that you should memorize is the national emergency telephone number – 911. This number can be dialed free of charge from any telephone.
  • Going to school is a basic right of every child in Canada, children aged 5 to 16 must go to school. There are various ways to educate your children, you can enroll your kids to a public school, a private school or you can also home school them. If you have kids, research about the school system in Canada and find out how will you be able to register your kids in a school.
  • Open a bank account . One of the best advices that were given to me when I just arrived in Canada is to start a relationship with a bank as early as possible. Seeing a bank financial advisor a good way of arranging your finances and is one’s first steps in building a credit history.
  • Get a mobile phone. It doesn’t matter whether you are getting a post-paid (monthly plan) or a pay-as-you-go type plan, as newbie, you need to be accessible. Having a mobile phone is becomes more important once you start with your job-hunting or you start looking for your apartment, wherever you are, you will be accessible to potential employers as well as to landlords.
  • Secure your important documents:
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN).  The 9-digit number that you need to work in Canada and to avail the government services and benefits.  Applying for a SIN is one of the first things that you should do as soon as you arrive.  You can apply for your SIN at your nearest point of service.  In applying for your SIN, you must provide a primary document to the agency, for immigrants (permanent residents) you can present either your  Permanent Resident Card (if already available);  Confirmation of Permanent Residence AND visa counterfoil (attached to your passport) or Record of Landing.
  • Manitoba Health Card. To avail the health benefits or medical care, you must be able to present this card to any health institution.  Manitoba Health issues a white paper card (with purple and red print)containing some of your and your family (spouse and children) personal information.  The card also contains another 9-digit lifetime identification number or PHIN (Personal Health Identification Number).  This card will not be automatically issued to immigrants even if you landed as permanent resident, one must register to Manitoba Health to be covered.
  • Driver Licenses. If prior to moving to Canada you have held a Driver’s license, Autopac will determine the Class and Stage of license you should hold in Manitoba.  You must present your drivers license to Manitoba Public Insurance office so they can verify and determine your class in accordance to Manitoba’s Class License System.
  • Apply for the following:
  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).  A tax-free monthly payment provide to eligible families to assist them with the cost of raising children under the age of 18.  The amount of the Canada Child Tax Benefit is calculated according to the information provided on the Income Tax and Benefit Returns, payment is normally issued every 20th day of the month.  New immigrants should complete an application form to avail this benefit.
  • Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  This benefit is also paid by Canada Revenue Agency.  Unlike CCTB, UCCB is a fix amount of $100 monthly payment to families for with children under age 6 to help cover the cost of child care.  This benefit is taxable,  families receiving CCTB will automatically receive UCCB if they have eligible children.
  • Child Care Subsidy.  This program is applicable for low-income families, in order to qualify for child day care subsidies, the parents must show a need for childcare and family income must be below a certain amount.  Application for this subsidy should be forwarded to Child Care Subsidy Intake and Inquiry.

These are some of the few things that a new comer in Canada can start doing. Like every other immigrants, there are a number of things that you need to do in starting a new life in Canada, just always remember, if you are unsure of something always ask and do your own research. Good luck and welcome to Canada!

 

Resources:

New Immigrant 101.

Transportation in Canada. Retrieved June 27, 2015.

Community Airport Newcomers Network. Retrieved June 27, 2015.

 

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Momsiecle

Momsiecle is short for Momsie's Circle. I started my first blog on a free blogging platform in 2006 as a just for fun blog. When my family and I moved to Winnipeg in 2009, I started to write about my challenges and discoveries about living in Canada as an immigrant. In 2012, I decided to make momsiecle.com a place to come for aspiring Canadian immigrants and for people who are embracing life in the “new world” that they are in.

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