When you first arrive to Canada as a permanent resident, it can be hard to know where to start. Take your time getting settled and starting your new life in Canada.
You may have friends who have are already settled in Canada and can help you with some of the important tasks and provide useful information.
In your first few weeks in Canada, you will have several tasks to get done to start your life here in Canada. You will need to complete several government forms. With these forms you will receive important cards and services. These cards and services will provide you with access to things like medical care, a number which allows you to work in Canada and other important items for your daily life.
It is important to note, that you should not have to pay anyone to help you complete these forms. A government official can help you complete the forms and there may even be a person in the office that speaks your language.
The cards and services are in different departments of the government and you will need to apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN), MSP for B.C. Residents, and the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). You do not have to pay for these forms and can download them from the internet.
Here is a checklist of things to do in your first few weeks in Canada:
Welcome to Canada Checklist
- Find a place to live – When you first arrive to Canada you will consider either to buy or rent a home. With either option you need to prepare and do some research. Here is more information: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/after-housing.asp
- Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) – this number will act as your identification and also allow you to work in Canada. For more information click here: Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Apply for a Health Card – For more information click here: MSP for B.C. Residents
- Apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) – For more information click here: Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
- Open a bank account – For more information click here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/after-money-banking.asp
- Apply for a driver’s licence- For more information click here: http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/getting-licensed
- Get information about finding a job – For more information click here: https://www.workbc.ca/Jobs/
- Find a settlement agency close to your home. These agencies can provide you with free support and assistance in your native language – http://www.welcomebc.ca/Communities-and-Service-Providers/Service-Providers/funded-services/Immigrant-settlement-agencies.aspx
- Find a public library close to your home – The libraries are a great place to borrow books and also provide resources and activities for children: http://www.bclibraries.ca/home/bclibraries
- Learn about your rights as an employee – In Canada, when you are working at a job you are protected by rights. To learn more about your rights in the work place click here: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/about/publication/workers_rights.shtml
- Learn about your rights as a tenant – When you rent a home you have rights which protect you as the renter. Find out more information here: http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/
- Find out how to register your children in school –http://www.welcomebc.ca/Live/Daily-Life/family-resources/school.aspx
- Get maps of streets and bus routes in BC – http://www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/transportation-maps/maps.aspx
- Find English classes for you and your family – http://www.welcomebc.ca/Live/learn-english.aspx
- Get a cell phone (mobile phone) or landline phone – WelcomeBC.ca: B.C. Newcomers’ Guide
- Learn how to get around your new community by car or bus – WelcomeBC.ca: B.C. Newcomers’ Guide
- Read about Canadian society and social customs –WelcomeBC.ca: B.C. Newcomers’ Guide
- Learn about emergency services and personal safety – WelcomeBC.ca: Emergencies
Written by Sacha DeVoretz, blog contributor to Bell Alliance Global Immigration Services Inc. and author of Canada is Hiring.