Expats are not only faced by new physical surroundings when migrating, they are also expected to understand and oblige with a new culture, a new way of doing things, sometimes a new language an alien work environment and governmental procedures which are foreign and complicated.
A new and challenging experience – making use of immigrant services
Across Canada, there are immigrant-serving organizations whose goal is to help you settle into your new community.
An immigrant-serving organization will help you to cope emotionally – as they are often maned by officials and councillors who are migrants themselves and who understand your unique challenges.
They will be able to put you into contact with resources needed to find accommodation, schools, healthcare specialists, support groups while also assisting you with paperwork required by the Canadian government. These free services for immigrants to Canada include:
• language assessments and classes
• help finding a job
• help with daily life such as finding a place to live and filling out forms and applications
• information about community services such as mentoring
One of your first steps should be to call or visit one of these organizations in your new city. Just be sure to have your permanent residency documents on hand.
Since most settlement agencies are supported by the government, most of the basic services and advice they provide are available for little or no cost at all to you.
Documents you’ll need as soon as you arrive
There are a number of important government documents you need to obtain soon after arriving in Canada your Social Insurance Number, your government health insurance card and your permanent resident card.
To be able to work in Canada, benefit from the health care system, open a bank account, drive a car or get your kids into school it’s important that you visit a Service Canada Centre in your area and get a Social Insurance Number, or more commonly called a SIN.
The visit won’t be very complicated, but to apply for your SIN you’ll need to bring your confirmation of permanent residence or other proof of status in Canada, like a work or study permit, and your passport.
Next, as a permanent resident, you should apply to your provincial or territorial government as soon as possible for a government health insurance card. If you’re not sure if you are eligible to apply, check with them.
Once you are eligible, which is usually three months after you arrive, this card will allow you to receive health care services paid through taxes.
You can get an application at a doctor’s office, a hospital or an immigrant-serving organization, or it can be downloaded from Canada’s government department responsible for health’s website.
Using public transport in Canada
Public transportation is an effective and affordable way to get from place to place.
Buses are the most common form of urban transportation in Canada. But, some cities also have streetcars or trams, light-rail trains or subways. You can usually transfer from one mode of transportation to another easily. Learn how to use your community’s public transportation, as it will help you get used to your surroundings.
If you plan to use it to get around on a daily basis, you should research transportation options before deciding where to live. You can get more information about public transportation in your city or town by visiting an information kiosk at a main transit station or visiting the website of your local municipal government.
In Part 2 of this series on your first few weeks in Canada we will tell you more about find, renting and buying property in Canada