Arrival to Canada

First Things First

4. How can I find temporary accommodation?
If your relatives or friends have not prepared housing for you in advance of arrival, you have to take care of it yourself. This is usually done as follows: initially you rent temporary accommodation and after some time you change to more permanent housing. After arriving at the airport in Canada immediately contact the kiosk "Immigrant Reception and Information Services" (IRIS). This kiosk will offer you addresses of inexpensive places to live, and IRIS staff speaks a wide range of different languages. Also, ads for renting apartments and rooms for temporary housing are available in the cities’ local newspapers. Although the most important indicator of housing may be cost, you should consider other characteristics, such as services nearby, as well as safety and proximity to public transportation.
Later, once you have settled in, you can take your time to look for a more permanent living space that suits your needs and lifestyle.

5. What do I need to do to get a Permanent Resident Card?
If you are coming to Canada for permanent residence, tell the Immigrant Reception and Information Services the address where you would like your Permanent Resident Card to be sent. This service is free. If you do not know your address, you can report it to the Ministry of Immigration within six months. The time of processing your application for the Permanent Resident Card will be about two months. Prior to obtaining citizenship and passports, the Permanent Resident Card will be the main document with which you can receive all the benefits provided for immigrants. Before receiving your Permanent Resident Card, your proof of status in Canada is your Confirmation of Permanent Residence. You will get this document at the airport immediately after arriving.

6. Where can I obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
Are you already thinking about getting a job? To work in Canada, you must have a special Social Insurance Number card. People who arrive in Canada legally as permanent residents have the right to permanent employment. To obtain a SIN card, contact the nearest Service Canada Centre, where you can apply with all of your immigration documents and fill out an application form. You will find the address of the nearest Service Canada Centre by calling 1-800-206-7211 or by going to the Service Canada website and clicking "Find a Service Canada office." If your documents are in order, the registration waiting time for SIN cards is no more than three weeks. If the number of your SIN starts with 9, it means that you have received a temporary SIN.

7. How can I open a bank account?
After arriving in Canada you can immediately open a bank account. You need a bank account to cash cheques, for example those provided by the government, and to write cheques to pay for rent, telephone, TV and so on. To open a bank account, visit the nearest bank with two identification documents. One of them has to have your photo. You can open a joint account, for example, an account for a married couple. There are no prerequisites for opening an account, such as work or permanent residence. There is no minimum contribution amount required. After opening a bank account, you will be able to invest (deposits) or remove (withdrawals) your money and start your credit history, which you will need if you want to take out a loan or get a credit card. In the meantime you may request a prepaid credit card, which you can put money on to pay for purchases.

8. How much does it cost to live in Canada?
The approximate living cost for a family of three people is from 55 to 65 thousand dollars per year. However, this does not include costs related to an Internet connection, preschool, medicines, dental treatment, and payment for purchases on credit. You will also have such capital expenses as payment for the last month when renting an apartment, for driving school, for translating and assessing documents, the purchase of furniture, a TV and computer, as well as private health insurance. In Canada, tipping for bartenders, barbers, taxi drivers, etc., usually should be from 1 to 3 dollars, and for waiters from 15-20% of the order value. However, concert halls regularly host free performances, museums have days when the entrance is free of charge, and there are food banks, where you can get free food, and second-hand shops, where prices are very low. In university hospitals you can have teeth treated for a small price. In winter there are free skating-rinks, and in the summer there are free concerts on the open stage. By the way, the majority of ethnic newspapers and reference books are free! You can find a detailed explanation of the cost of living in Canada on the website www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living. 

9. How should I plan my budget?
Budgeting is an important part of your life in Canada. Since at first you may not  have a job, and you  may not have an idea how long you have to look for employment, the money you brought from abroad should provide you with sufficient funds for the first six months. Then you can apply for financial support. Spend money brought from abroad carefully; do not allow yourself luxuries, and keep the receipts. The fact is that when you apply for financial support, you will be asked to report how you spent the money you stated upon arrival, and if the officer decides that you lived too luxuriously, your application for financial support can be refused. Note that cheap rental apartments, cheap electronics and furniture, and a second-hand car are not considered to be luxuries. Company Credit Canada has developed guidelines for budgeting called Monthly Budget Tracker. Go to https://creditcanada.com (Money management > How to create monthly budget > Monthly Budget Tracker). 

10. How do I apply for the Canada Child Benefit?
The Canadian government provides additional financial support for families with children. This program is called the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). The support for each child up to 18 years of age can be obtained by parents of the child or other persons with permanent resident status in Canada, with whom the children live. Using this program you can receive a monthly non-taxable benefit for children. The amount of this benefit depends on family size, number of children, their ages, as well as your income and place of residence. If you think that you are eligible for this program, please fill out the Canada Child Benefits Application and send it by mail to the nearest Tax Service of Canada. However, you will start receiving cheques only after completing your annual income tax return. If you have just arrived and have earned no income in Canada, send the completed Status in Canada/Statement of Income form along with the application. It is better if you do this with the help of an experienced Canadian accountant.
Source: What is the Canada Child Tax Benefit [update] in 11 languages. http://english.inmylanguage.org/article.aspx?cat=DAILYGENFAM&docid=2272348&doclang=EN.

11. How do I apply for provincial health insurance?
You should apply for a health insurance plan for free medical services after arriving in Canada. Each province and territory has their own health insurance plan. Make sure you know what your plan covers. If you live in Canada legally, your provincial health insurance plan will provide you with access to a considerable amount of medical services free of charge (dental services, eye glasses and medical drugs are generally not covered). However, you have to wait three months after arrival to receive your provincial health insurance card. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, refugees have the right to get a card right after arrival. You can find out if this exception applies to you by phoning 1-800-268-1154. To apply for your health card, you should visit your nearest provincial health office. Bring your permanent resident card, a document proving your address and a piece of identification. Because provincial health cards include a photo, be ready to be photographed at the provincial health office for free. 
Source: Health care in Canada www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/after-health.asp. 

(To be continued)