As a newcomer to Canada, you may need to adapt to a new culture, language and climate. This sub-section contains useful information about living in Canada.
On arrival in Canada, most adult immigrants receive the orientation book called Welcome to Canada: What You Should Know.
It provides information on how to get the language training, counselling, orientation, work search and Canadian host programs and other related services. These programs and services help newcomers adapt to their new life in Canada. They are provided through a variety of immigrant-serving organizations in the community. They help newcomers to become self-reliant, participating members of Canadian society as quickly as possible.
There are many organizations which provide services designed for newcomers to Canada. In fact, your local immigrant serving organization should be your first point of contact. Many of these organizations across the country are listed in Finding Help in Your Community.
Key Information Sources lists federal and provincial government phone numbers and Internet addresses, which may be helpful to you. It also lists other useful numbers, such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and various national accreditation services. Quebec looks after many aspects of its immigration program. Phone numbers for the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles, which offers many services to newcomers in Quebec are listed. If you are living in or planning to move to Quebec, you may wish to visit the Québec Portal for more information.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada gives money to community organizations to provide language training for newcomers through the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. The language training through LINC is free and available to all adult immigrants who are permanent residents of Canada. Canadian citizens and refugees are not eligible for this training. In many cases, child-minding is available while the parent is attending the language classes. For a list of LINC assessment centres please refer to Language Training.
Community colleges, non-profit organizations and local boards of education also provide classes in English or French as a Second Language, popularly known as ESL or FSL. ESL or FSL classes are open to all but may charge a fee.
In Canada, education is a provincial responsibility. While there is no central service for the assessment of education for all of Canada, services are available in most provinces. For a fee, these services will provide individuals with an assessment report of their foreign educational credentials. These assessments are used to help employers understand how education from another country compares to education in a Canadian province. For more information, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/index.asp.
A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit identification number given to you for the purposes of income tax, Employment Insurance, old age pension or other government programs. You need a SIN to work in Canada. Your SIN comes in the form of a card. This card is often called your SIN Card. Most newcomers receive a SIN application form when they first arrive in Canada. If you did not get one, application forms are available at Service Canada Centres, Canada Post offices, online, and through many immigrant-serving agencies.
To apply, go to the nearest Service Canada Centre. You may also apply through the mail. There is a small administrative fee. The application form must be filled out and original (not photocopied) passports and immigration record of landing documents must be presented. A second piece of identification is also necessary.
or visit the Employment section of the Infocentre.
The Canadian tax system is a complex system of measures to collect money from people and businesses to finance the activities of the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government. Federal and provincial taxes are usually collected together when people file their yearly income tax return.
The Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) are paid directly by consumers at the time of purchase. Some items are exempt from certain sales taxes.
Property owners pay municipal property taxes to the city, town or municipality in which property is owned, based on provincial statutes. Tenants pay their municipal taxes indirectly, as part of their rent. Business taxes are paid to the municipality in which the companies operate.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) collects federal and some provincial income taxes, GST and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), as well as Canada Pension Plan contributions, Employment Insurance premiums and customs and excise duties.
For more information visit the CRA Web site
General inquiries: 1-800-959-8281
Business inquiries: 1-800-959-5525
Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB): 1-800-387-1193
GST/HST credit: 1-800-959-1953
Tax Refund for Visitors to Canada: 1-800-668-4748.
Income tax and other taxes are imposed and collected in Canada at the federal, provincial and municipal (city or town) levels. The combined federal and provincial income tax rates vary from province to province and are based on total annual income. Most provinces also have a retail sales tax on the purchase of goods. The tax is added at the point of sale but does not apply to the resale of goods.
It is illegal to leave a child under 12 years of age alone in a house. If you can afford to hire a babysitter, ask your neighbours or friends for a referral. Many high school students can baby-sit for you for a minimum wage.
There are a few subsidized daycare centres where children may be registered. These subsidized centres, however, often have a long waiting list.
Community groups that provide language instruction to newcomers may provide on-site child minding, if you are registered in classes with that agency.
For information about local child care services, look in the yellow pages directory for "Day Care Centres and Nurseries" or "Social Services Organizations."
For information on elementary and secondary school education in Canada, click here.
For information on advanced education in Canada, click here.
Canada has public health laws that protect all of us. Immunization or vaccination for children is one of the most important ways we protect all persons living in Canada, young and old, from getting serious infectious diseases.
Your child cannot go to school unless his or her immunization records are up to date. You can arrange to have your child inoculated by your doctor or paediatrician, or through a public health clinic. You will receive an immunization or vaccination record, which you must provide to your child's school.
If you were not immunized against preventable diseases before coming to Canada, you should contact your doctor or local public health clinic immediately. You will be immunized free of charge.
You may also find a central help line for each province and territory listed in Key Information Sources.
Canadians have long valued their traditions of democracy, freedom and tolerance. The rights and values so important to all Canadians are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Bill of Rights, and provincial human rights codes. Along with these rights come certain responsibilities.
Canadians are also proud of Canada's multicultural heritage, created as generations of immigrants joined the Aboriginal peoples who have lived in Canada for thousands of years. Newcomers should learn one of Canada's two official languages, English and French.
Canadians enjoy the following rights and freedoms:
To learn more about Canadian citizenship, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/index.asp.