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New Immigrant to Canada: What's next? Erin Kemp, Resource & Information Specialist, Job Skills

About the Author

Erin Kemp is a Resource & Information Specialist with Job Skills - Employment and Business Services. Erin has an extensive background working in the social science field and most recently completed her Masters in Sociology from the University of Waterloo. Working with people in the community is something Erin strives for and aided in her decision to change career paths to employment services. Erin assists clients by providing them the necessary resources and information they need to progress in their job search.

Immigrating to a new country can be quite overwhelming and difficult — from finding a new job to looking for a place to live. Here is a checklist to assist you with your first steps in Canada.
Newcomer's Checklist:


  1. Check out a Welcome Centre for New Immigrants.
    In Toronto, there is a newcomer welcome centre at Toronto Pearson International Airport. There are multiple locations across Ontario and BC. The Immigrant Reception and Information Services (IRIS) kiosks in Terminals 2 and 3 are available to assist you. These non-profit organizations receive government funding to offer newcomer services, such as free ESL training, settlement services, employment supports, and accreditation information. In Ontario, there are also Welcome Centres in York Region and Durham in Ontario, as well as other locations across Canada. If you are (or if you are arriving) in the Greater Toronto Area, check out this website for locations: welcomecentre.ca. In British Columbia, check welcomebc.ca .

  2. Find temporary accommodation for your first few nights then start looking for a long-term rental.
    Check out the 2013 edition of the Canadian Immigrant Housing Guide for assistance with housing or go to your nearest Welcome Centre.

  3. Apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) card.
    A SIN card is needed to get a job or when applying for any government assistance or credit. Applications for a SIN card can be made through your local Service Canada office –check the blue pages of your local telephone book under Government of Canada.

  4. Apply for your official health care card.
    Application forms for these cards are available from doctor's offices, hospital and most pharmacies, or by calling the provincial medical service authorities. The application processes vary by province, but an immigrant Welcome Centre can help you find out how to apply.

  5. Open an account at a bank or credit union near your home.
    Opening a new account and starting a relationship with a bank as soon as possible so you can manage your money, pay your bills and begin building a credit history,

  6. Validate your professional credentials.
    You can contact the nearest Welcome Centre or contract a local foreign credentials assessment service such as World Education Services (wes.org).

  7. Enrol your kids in school.
    Every child between the ages of five and sixteen is required to attend school. Contact local schools in your neighbourhood or contact the local school board for guidance.

  8. Get your permanent resident (PR) card.
    This is a wallet-sized, plastic status card that replaces your paper IMM 1000 Record of Landing document. It's convenient proof of your permanent resident status. You need it in order to be able to travel abroad and return to Canada. Actually, you do not need to apply for your card separately (your application is submitted automatically when you arrive and are registered as an immigrant) but you must make sure that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has your address to mail your card to. Processing of your application can take over 2 months, but does not prevent you from cotntinuing with the other items on this list. For more information, call 1-800-255-4541 or check the information on the Immigration Canada web site (click here).

  9. Get your Canadian driver's license.
    An international license is only valid for a few months. Check with your provincial motor vehicle branch on the rules in your province. You will most likely need to take a driving test.

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