Social Insurance Number
Once you come-out from the airport and reach to friends place or motel and relax for that day/night, next day you will have to go for applying Social Insurance Number at the nearest HRDC Center. Please don’t delay this, as this document is must for getting job. Once you apply, the takes about 21 days to process it. This number is your identification as a Canadian resident. You need this for getting a job, opening a bank account etc.
To locate nearby HRDC offices please visit following link:
Open a Canadian Bank Account
Once you have applied for your SIN card, you can open a Canadian Bank Account. Both SIN card and Passport are required to open your bank account. If you have not yet received your SIN card, you can show the receipt of SIN card application (given to you by HRDC) to open the account. The following are the major Canadian Banks.
Royal Bank Of Canada
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
Toronto Dominion Canada Trust (TD Bank)
Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank)
Remember one point, you don’t need to deposit any money in order to open a bank account. This is helpful when you came here with bank draft and once you deposit it they will take 10 days to give you credit. There are varieties of bank accounts available. Please choose whatever is suitable to you. Study all the charges applicable, any hidden cost, interest you are getting etc. Each bank is naming account differently like “Super Saving Account”, “Checking Account”, “Money Master Account” etc. When you are asked to choose between “Passbooks” or “Statement” go for “Statement”. In Statement you will be provided with your account updates by mail every month. In passbook you have to go to bank to put entries into your passbook. Bank statement is very important document as your residence proof. When you apply for Health-Card it is preferred document. While choosing bank, don’t just go for the near-by bank branch, because most of the cases you are not going to stay at the same place forever. Choose a bank with more number of branches. Choose a branch with flexible timings. If you choose a bank which opens at 11.00 AM and closes at 3.00 PM during weekdays and you have first shift job, you can never go to bank, unless you take day-off. Here many banks are open during Weekends and during evening. Check that first.
Once you move to your own apartment you will need to apply for a phone. It takes just 2-3 days to get a phone in most cases. This is very important for your job search. There are three ways of ordering a phone. Call the local phone company for the phone connection, Visit the phone company outlets, or order it using Internet. If you Visit personally to the nearest outlet, they will ask you to deposit 200$ as you are new! But if you order it on phone or by Internet they will not charge you anything! Preferred way is order by Internet. By phone, since your pronunciations are different you will have communication gap between the operator and you and so you might end-up with a package you don’t want. Using Internet you will read and study each option before choosing. Also on Internet you will get a confirmation number and day when it is going to be started. Phone companies also prefer people using Internet.
You can get a phone (instrument) of your choice at most of the stores and plug it in the jack in your home/room.
Another important feature you will require on your phone line is the voice mail, so that others can leave you messages, when you are not available at home. This is very important for your job search, as you are normally notified by phone about your interviews. Many people consider voice message instrument in place of voice message service from bell Canada, but there is huge difference. The voice message instruments can take messages only when you are away from home, where as the voice messages service will take message at all the times – when you are away from home or you are using the phone. This is very important especially when you are looking for job and the potential customer calls you and you are not able to receive the phone. You will loose a job worth many thousand dollars just for saving $5! Please go for voice messaging service.
Long Distance Services
It is not necessary to have long distance services from the same company as a local company. You can get it from various sources. There are three kinds of companies – one direct long distance companies – means you will be billed directly by the company. There are third party carriers, using which you will not have to pay the bill directly to the company but it will appear in your regular phone company’s invoice. The examples are “10-10-620” and “10-15-945”. In this case you have to dial these number first and then your local phone number as usual. The third option is pre—paid phone cards. There are two kind of phone cards available – one with connection fees and one without connection fees. The one with connection fees are good phone cards for making a single call of longer duration. It usually gives more minutes. However if you try to make more than one call from the same card – it will deduct certain amount of money from the card. The no connection fee cards are giving lesser minutes, but are good if from the same card you are going to make many phone calls. Please note that not all phone companies are good. Especially with phone cards there are frequent closing downs of companies, so check with friends before buying any phone card. Often Indian Grocery stores are selling Cards at much higher discount. (At present $10 card is available at $7.49)
Which service is good is difficult to tell, as from time to time companies changing their services and charges. Study well before going for anything. Oh yes, you can change your phone company whenever you want. In fact many times changing phone companies is beneficiary as the major giants are trying to give incentive to you if you change over the company.
Make sure you subscribe to a suitable long distance rate plan, to save on your phone call charges to India. Most new immigrants feel home sick and run up large bills on long distance calls to their families and friends back home.
This is useful when you don’t have computer and want to access a computer for Internet and also for finding good books on Canada and on employments, resume writing skills etc. Most of the libraries have got books on all languages including your first language; you will find it much useful. Another use of Library Cards is that it is one of three document required for applying for health-card as it has got your name and your signature.
Visit nearest HRDC center that provides you access to various resources required for applying for job. You will get expert services on resume writing; you will get information on job agencies. There are many HRDC aided centers like “South Asian Family Support Service”, “Tamil Elam” etc. You can also get a counselor speaking your language.
Health Insurance and Health Card
It is very important that you apply for your Government Health Insurance as soon as possible so that your health insurance coverage will be effective after 90 days of your arrival in Canada. Meanwhile you need to purchase private insurance for the first 90 days and you can call Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. at 1-800-268-8099 for a list of private insurance providers or check the following companies for your needs. Most insurance companies require applications within 5 days of arrival.
Canada Life Assurance company :1-800-680-3837
Commercial Union Life Asssurance Company of Canada: 1-800-387-4770
Journeyman Travel Protection: 1-888-256-8763
Liberty House: 1-800-268-3763
Check with your local Provincial Government Health Offices for full details on what you need to apply for your Health Insurance. Generally, you need the following as a minimum to apply for your Government Health Insurance.
Your SIN card
Your passport and immigration papers
Proof of your residential address
You can provide your bank account statement with your address shown or a lease agreement with your landlord as a proof of address.
You need to apply for Health Insurance for all your family members. After 90 days, you will receive your Health Card. You need to produce this card whenever you visit a Doctor. Other wise, you may be required to pay for the service. The Health card covers basic health care excluding dental coverage. Prescription drugs are not covered except for senior citizens and the people on welfare. Usually the employer covers the insurance for the drugs.
You can get list of offices on this official website http://www.gov.on.ca/health/
Getting Driving License early is very important in Canada. It not only provides you mobility, but also serves as a personal Identification, which you will require from time to time. Driving license can be a requirement for certain types of jobs. In some cases, the employer may be located in an area that not serviced by public transport. So get your driving license as soon as possible.
First thing to do is to get G1 License. This is learning license. You have to appear to nearest MTO office and give one short exam. There are books available on it and you can also get list of probable questions from friends. This is easy, but don’t take it lightly. You have to perform 80 percent to pass it. Study a bit before going for the exam.
The next step is G2 or G. G2 is full license except few things – you must have zero alcohol level while you are driving and the passenger in your vehicle are limited to working seat-belts only.
Though you might have good driving experience at your home country it is always advisable to get lessons from Ministry of Transportation approved instructor. While selecting an instructor please don’t look at money only. You should look at the quality of instructor and his student’s performance. According to survey at CanadianDesi only 30 percent people are getting license at first trial. So please choose proper instructor. In Toronto area there is a long waiting list – usually 6 months. However don’t frustrate with it – as you can always check with the telephone system about your waiting list and see if there is any chance to bring it early. This is not wonder, but if someone cancels it you can book it the vacant spot. If you have good expertise back home you can directly give G license. Be sure that you are not so confident as G is very tough exam and chances of getting failed are much more. G2 is also full license except few exceptions. Once you get G2 you can give G exam at any time. For further information please visit following site.
If you have school going children, you need to admit them as soon as possible in your neighborhood school. Admission is free, guaranteed and very simple and quick process. There are no school fees. In some cases there may be a small charge for certain school supplies. For admission to school, you will need passport, immigration papers, and a vaccination certificate showing that your children have taken all the necessary vaccinations. Having previous school records is good but not compulsory.
Day Care for your children
If both the parents decide to work, it is essential to find suitable a day care facility for your children. It is illegal to leave children below age 12 at home alone. Check with your friends and neighbors to find a suitable day care facility or a baby sitter for your children. The costs vary depending on the age of your children.
If you are still living in your temporary accommodation, you may want to move to a permanent accommodation. Or move to a more convenient location near your place of work.
A number of rental guides are available free of cost in many drug stores, grocery stores and convenience stores. Also check the local newspapers. To get an apartment for rent, you can expect the landlord to show them the proof that you are working and they might even conduct a background check as well.
In Toronto the apartment rents range from $ 300 per month for a studio (a small room with space suitable for one person and a small kitchen), $400 to $600 per month for a Bachelor’s apartment, $700 to $1,000 per month for a single bedroom apartment depending on the location of the apartment and $900 to $1,500 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment. One usually needs to execute a lease for a minimum period of one year for rental apartments. So you need to pay first and last months rent when you move in to the apartment. After the expiry of the lease, one can exercise the option of signing another lease term or can pay every month as rent without any lease to bother about so that incase you need to move out this is the best option. The cheaper options are renting a basement apartment. However most of basement apartments are not good ventilated and you might have health problems. Some people prefer to share apartment with each other. This is good initially when you want to keep your expenses to a minimum. Paying guest options are also many. Typically paying guest will have to pay $400 that includes stay and food.
Help with English
People of Indian origin generally have good knowledge of English. However, their English accent is different from North American accent. This creates a lot of problems in communicating effectively and getting a good job. So you need to know where the Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) assessment center is in your community and register for language classes. Even though you think that your English is good and you don’t need any help you should visit LINC center and get your English checked. It is always useful to convert your pronunciations in to Canadian once.