There are a million an one things you have to take care of when you go to Canada for the first time. Here are some of the more important things to do when you first arrive in Canada.
GATHER ALL YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
While you may not need all these documents all at the same time, you really should put them together in a safe place.
These documents include:
- Philippine passports
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- School transcripts, certificates and diplomas
- Vaccination records
- Drivers license
You’ll be needing these documents at different stages, so hopefully you were able to secure copies before you left the Philippines.
If ever you need to translate any documents, make sure to use a translation service that is recognized by the organization that needs those documents.
CATCH UP ON SOME SLEEP
Welcome to Canada, you finally made it! After months and months of preparation, your new life in Canada is about to begin.
You may not realize it yet, but it’s been a long several months. When you first arrive in Canada, you’ll need to get some rest because you’ll be very tired.
Sleep as much as you can, and when you’re ready, start planning the next couple of weeks.
There’ll always be plenty to do, but you need to be as clear-headed as possible. You’ll have to find a new house to rent, apply for the important stuff like a driver’s license, provincial healthcare coverage and a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and you also need to register your kids for school.
Once you’ve gotten all that done, then you can start looking for a job.
APPLY FOR A SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER AND PROVINCIAL HEALTH COVERAGE
You can apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) at the nearest Service Canada location when you first arrive in Canada.
They used to give out SIN cards, but not anymore. Now they just give a Confirmation of SIN letter, which will indicate your new SIN number.
Every member of your family will be issued an SIN. Children under 12 do not need to be physically present to apply for an SIN.
You will need to bring your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR), as well as your Philippine passport (or other government issued photo ID).
Unlike other ID like driver’s licenses, you’re not supposed to bring your SIN with you at all times. Keep the Confirmation of SIN letter in a safe location where you can access it whenever necessary.
Healthcare is publicly funded in Canada, and is under the provincial and territorial government jurisdiction.
In most cases, provincial and territorial healthcare coverage is valid three months after arrival in Canada. It is strongly encouraged that you secure appropriate private insurance coverage for you and your family.
Follow the links below to apply for healthcare coverage in your province or territory of residence.
- British Columbia – Medical Services Plan (MSP) click here.
- Alberta – Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) click here.
- Saskatchewan – eHealth click here.
- Manitoba – Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan, click here.
- Ontario – Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) click here
- Quebec – Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) click here.
- New Brunswick – New Brunswick Medicare click here.
- Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia Medical Service (MSI) click here.
- Prince Edward Island – click here.
- Newfoundland and Labrador – Medical Care Plan (MCP) click here.
- Northwest Territories – click here.
- Yukon – click here.
OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT
Another important thing you’ll need to do when you first arrive in Canada is to set up your bank accounts. You’ll need a checking account for day to day expenses, as well as debit and credit cards.
Canada’s big five banks all have programs that help Newcomers open their bank accounts in Canada. To learn more about banking in Canada, click on the following links:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) click here.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) click here.
- Bank of Nova Scotia (ScotiaBank) click here.
- Bank of Montreal (BMO) click here.
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) click here.
FIND A PLACE TO RENT
If you were lucky enough to have friends and family put you up when you arrive in Canada, good for you. If not, this might be one of your more pressing needs to take care of.
We really recommend looking for a realtor to help you with this. Realtors know all the good neighbourhoods, and can give you information about which places have great access to schools and public transit.
Realtors love meeting Newcomers, because they tend to do repeat business with them when its time to buy their first homes.
Be as forthcoming to your realtor as possible, sharing with them your budget and your family’s unique needs. Don’t be shy to ask them all the questions you might have, you’ll find them to be very good resources.
GET NEW CELLPHONES AND HOME INTERNET
Once you’ve moved in your new home, it’s time to go and get internet.
If you brought along some devices from the Philippines, bring it with you to the store to see if it can work on the local cellular networks.
You may want to consider signing up for a pay-as-you-go plan before committing to a 2 year plan.
If you’d like to sign up for a two year plan, most providers will give you a pretty good deal on new devices like iPhones.
You can pay for the device in twelve monthly instalments as long as you sign up for a monthly plan. You will also have to pay for taxes up front, as well as some other connection fees.
Make sure to look around for deals and promotions before you sign up.
Click on the links below to see the latest deals from the biggest providers:
There may be smaller providers in your area. Home internet is also available, as well as bundled services.
We suggest signing up for mobility (cellphone service) and unlimited home internet only. We haven’t had a home phone in years, and we mostly watch Netflix and YouTube. It comes out cheaper.
SIGN UP FOR FREE SETTLEMENT SERVICES
Settlement organizations are not-for-profit groups that receive funding from the Government of Canada.
Staffed by settlement workers and counsellors, settlement organizations provide programs and services that help Newcomers become engaged members of their communities.
Settlement workers can help you register your kids to school, prepare to find a job and access other programs and services including English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
START LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB IN CANADA
Everything about looking for a job in Canada is different. It would be a good idea to reach out to everyone in your personal network before you start sending out applications. It may come as a surprise that your relatives and friends might have some solid leads for you to start with.
If you do not have the benefit of relatives or friends available to help you, reach out to a settlement worker.
Settlement workers can refer you to settlement programs and services including job search, interview and resume writing workshops so that you can better prepare for looking for a job.
We strongly suggest going to these workshops. They’re free and you get to meet some new people from all over the world who is in the exact same situation as you!
If you’re a professional, like a doctor, nurse or engineer, you may want to look at getting your credentials assessed. Practicing your profession isn’t impossible in Canada, but it will require a lot more time and effort on your part.
ENROL YOUR KIDS FOR SCHOOL
Schools up to secondary school are publicly funded in Canada (that is, free).
Once you’ve determined where you’re going to be renting, find out which school board your children will be attending.
In most cases, you will have a choice between the public school board and the Catholic school board. The choice you make is totally up to you and your family.
Call the school boards when you first arrive in Canada to find out which school your children will be attending and what the requirements are.
START YOUR NEW LIFE IN CANADA
Go out and enjoy your new lives. You will still have so much to discover, make some new friends and see what your community offers. Welcome to Canada!
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