Arrival to Canada

First Things First

12. Where can I buy temporary health insurance?
If you have to wait for your health card for three months, during this period you can buy private insurance or pay directly for doctors' services. The cost of a regular doctor's services is from 50 to 100 dollars per hour. The cost of dental treatment is higher. It may be cheaper for you to buy private insurance, the cost of which will depend on the number of family members, their ages and their health.
When you purchase private medical insurance, find out exactly what expenses it covers. The approximate cost of three months of insurance for a family of three people will be about $8 per day.
For more information visit Moving to Canada: Getting temporary medical insurance http://canadianimmigrant.ca.

13. Where can I find free Internet?
To search for necessary information, type your resumes and send e-mails, you need a computer and the Internet. If you do not have a computer, you can get free access to computers with an Internet connection at the libraries and agencies that serve immigrants. There you will be able to send and receive e-mails. The Internet at libraries is free. Also, at libraries you can attend free workshops on how to use the Internet and borrow some manuals.

14. How can I install communication tools?
Once you have found temporary housing, you will need to acquire communications. The main tool for communication is of course the telephone. Install your home phone with the right company. The cost of basic home telephone services is $25-30 for a month. For conducting long distance and overseas calls you can use phone cards which are sold at variety stores. Also, there are some phone booths in every city. These days cell phones are very popular. You can carry them with you and call from any location. Some immigrants do not buy a home phone, preferring a cell phone. In addition to buying a home phone, you have to set up a voice mailbox or purchase an answering machine. Then if somebody calls, he/she will be able to leave messages in your absence. Many organizations use an answering machine which gives answers to some frequently asked questions and how to contact the right department or person. In Canada, it is possible to take advantage of free long distance calls. Such phone numbers start with the following numbers: 1-800, 1-866, 1-877, 1-888.

15. What services can I get if I call 211?
211 is Canada’s primary source of information on government- and community-based health and social services. To speak directly with information specialist dial 211 in provinces where the service is available. The number 211 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in many languages. Clicking the "Newcomers” option at the 211 website, you can find information about:
•Foreign diplomatic, consular and other representatives in Canada.
•Classes for adults learning English.
•Services related to the process of immigrating to Canada, including sponsorship and appeals.
•Services that assist in having foreign educational assessment.
•Programs that provide translation of written documents or oral interpretation services.
•Newcomer employment programs.
•Services for people at any stage of a refugee claim.
•Settlement services.
Source: 211 Canada http://211.ca.

16. How can I call ambulance, police and fire services?
All of these services can be reached by dialling 911. Calling this number from any phone and from a phone booth is free. It is necessary to answer the operator's questions as to what happened, your name, contact telephone and address. Do not hang up until the operator hangs up. For false alarm calls you may be fined. If you are not fluent in English, ask the operator for a person who speaks your language and wait on the phone until the operator finds an interpreter. The ambulance service provides connectivity in many languages.

17. Where can I find information centres for newcomers?
In most Canadian cities there are organizations and information centres that serve immigrants.
Their goal is to give new immigrants:
•The latest and most accurate information about the addresses of government and public organizations serving immigrants in your community,
•Access to government and public programs for new Canadians,
•The addresses of schools where immigrants can learn English and teach their children,
•Information about Canadian family and labour law,
•Sources of financial support to immigrants and many others.
You will also get help on how and where you can protect your rights, how to get free legal assistance and how to find an interpreter and a certified immigration consultant. Each centre has a library, which collects books on various aspects of life in Canada, computers with Internet, printers, fax machines, copiers and other office equipment. When visiting the centre you are not required to make an appointment in advance. Qualified consultants will answer all your questions and recommend suitable programs. You can find immigrant services in your area at www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/services.asp.

18. Where can I get my English level evaluated and find an appropriate language school?
The level of your language will be determined by testing at a LINC Language Assessment & Referral office, where your English level can be assessed. Find the nearest LINC office, book an appointment and bring proof of your immigration status, address and age. This office serves people with permanent resident or refugee status. If you do not fit into these categories, then you can use an English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Testing can take from one to three hours. You will be offered four tests: writing, listening, speaking and reading. Finally, you will be given a level according to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), and you will be directed to the appropriate school, where you will be able to improve your language up to level 7 CLB and more.

19. How can I find the nearest medical clinic?
As long as you do not have a family doctor, in case of illness you can visit the walk-in clinic. You do not need to set up an appointment, just walk in and ask for medical care. The addresses of such clinics can be found in the phone book under the "Clinics-Medical" section. If you have a health card or private health insurance, you will get help for free. The doctors who work in walk-in clinics can prescribe you some medication, send you for medical tests or direct you to medical specialists.

(To be continued)