The wait is finally over! You have received your immigration documents, and land in Canada to start building a new life. But where should you start from? We are going to cover the most basic things you need to do to get set up and started.
1) Social Insurance Number (SIN)
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number which is central to receiving government benefits, applying for jobs, or accessing government programs. Therefore it is imperative to apply for your SIN as soon as possible. Each SIN is uniquely tied to every individual and should be protected since it can be easily misused by others. In past, SIN numbers used to be issued on plastic cards, but now they are issued in paper format and sent to the mailing address provided by you.
To apply, you need to head to your nearest Service Canada office with this necessary documentation.
2) Apply for Health Insurance
Each province has its own health care system, and Ontario’s health care plan is called OHIP. Through OHIP, all basic health services are covered, as well as doctor visits, trips to the emergency room, medical tests, and surgeries.
Since it can take up to three months for your OHIP coverage to start, it is advisable to apply for it as soon as possible after landing. For convention refugees, however, the coverage starts immediately.
Make sure you bring the right documentation with you before heading to a Service Ontario centre to apply for your health card..
3) Get a Canadian Driver’s License
While some people may choose to use public transit, getting a driver’s license will give you the freedom to drive anywhere in Canada.
If you already have a driving license from your home country, then you can probably use that in Canada for a short time, after checking with the authorities. Read more on this here.
In order to do this, you must obtain an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in your home country.
The first part to getting a license in Canada is to pass a written exam about rules of driving. You can easily obtain a study guide here. Then you will have to pass one or two driving tests on the road, depending on your prior driving experience and age.
A driving license can also serve as a form of photo ID, which is another reason why it is useful to have. It can even open up new opportunities when applying for employment, since many jobs require a valid driving permit.
4) Setting up a Bank Account
It is important to open a Canadian bank account so you can start paying bills, managing funds from your home country, receive government benefits and/or child tax benefits and to start a credit history.
You can open a bank account even if you do not have a job yet, but beware of expensive monthly account charges. Most major banks like Scotia Bank and RBC now have accounts specifically designed for newcomers so take advantage of those offerings. Do remember to take your personal identification to an appointment so that they can set up an account for you.
5) Find a Settlement Agency
There are lots of government-funded settlement agencies and newcomer centres that can help you to settle down in Ontario faster. They can help by connecting you with other newcomers like you, or pair you with Canadians, as well as providing help with documentation, translation, free English classes, training programs, career help and much more.
For free online orientation, information and referrals related to employment and settlement in Ontario register here.
To find a settlement agency or service near you, you can visit the Settlement.Org Services Near Me section.
These five tips will help jumpstart your new life in Ontario and get you started on the right track. All of us at PrepCan warmly welcome you to Canada, and wish you all the best!