Category Archives: Useful Government Resources

Saving for the Education of Your Child Made Easy

By Erum Zehra

South Asian-WinWin-Banner-300x250-v3 Final

As mothers, the education of our children is one of our primary concerns. We aspire to give them the best education possible. Fortunately, living in a country like Canada has made this task easy where free education is provided in public schools until high school. After graduating from high school, our children want to join colleges or universities for higher education. This can prove to be very expensive for low income families. Most families with school going children start saving for their college education quite early, to ensure they have enough money to equip their children with higher education.


Government of Canada provides assistance in saving for higher education of your children through RESP (Registered Education Savings Plans) and CLB (Canada Learning Bond). An RESP is an educations savings account registered with the Government of Canada. You need to open an account with a bank or credit union, or through a certified financial planner or a group plan dealer. These institutions, planners and dealers are known as “RESP providers.” For more information on RESP please visit:

The Canada Learning Bond consists of an initial amount of $500 offered by the Government of Canada to help you start saving for your child’s education after high school. Your child could get $100 every year until he or she turns 15 years old to a maximum of $2,000. Your child is eligible for the Canada Learning Bond if:

• he or she was born after December 31, 2003; and

• you receive the National Child Benefit Supplement under the Canada Child Tax Benefit (also known as the family allowance).

For More information on CLB please visit:


SmartSAVER at is a non profit community project which makes it easier for you to learn about RESPs and to get the Canada Learning Bond. They have teamed up with RESP providers across Canada that will help you get an RESP started for FREE: no enrolment fee, no annual fee and no contribution required.

How to Apply?

You can use their online application, Start My RESP, and apply for the Canada Learning Bond. Apply before Decemeber 31st for a chance to win $1000! A new winner is being selected every week, so the earlrlier you apply, the better your chances are of winning.



Documentation Evaluation

By Tabinda Siddiqui


New comers to Canada need to get their documents evaluated as an important step of settlement process. To me, getting your documents evaluated means ” helping Canada embrace and understand your academic and non academic qualifications obtained outside of Canada”.

One can start the assessment process before coming to Canada. This may take time and cost money but truly saves you from lots of last minute hassle.

You need your documents assessed if you are:

a. Immigrating to Canada as skilled worker

b. Arriving to Canada to work in specific trades or professions

c. Planning on studying in Canada

Keep in mind that some educational institutions and regulatory bodies have their own academic assessment processes. Some use the services of a Credential Assessment agencies. Always do your homework before you apply to a professional regulatory body for licensure or certification; check with them about their requirements and how they evaluate academic documents.

For work related documents assessment, check with potential employers to see if they have a preferred credential assessment agency.

Your documents can be academic or non academic. Assessment agencies evaluate whether your qualifications are equal to standards set for Canadian workers or if you need more training or education.


Academic documents / credentials may include:

  • Secondary (high) school diploma

  • College diploma

  • Bachelor’s degree

  • Master’s degree

  • PhD or Doctorate degree

  • Professional school degree (for example, for law, medicine, teaching)


Occupational or Professional Documents /Credentials include:

  • Professional licences

  • Memberships in professional associations

  • Apprenticeships

  • Trade certificates

  • Work experience

Credential Assessment Agencies

World Education Services – Canada (WES-Canada)
2 Carlton Street, Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M5B 1J3
Telephone: 416-972-0070
Toll Free: 1-866-343-0070
Fax: 416-972-9004

WES-Canada converts foreign secondary and post-secondary educational qualifications into their Ontario equivalents. Document-by-document, course-by-course or customized reports are available for educational, immigration, licensing or employment purposes. Services and assessment reports are available in English and French.

Comparative Education Service
University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies
158 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2V8
Telephone: 416-978-2400 ext. 3
Fax: 416-978-2185

The Comparative Education Service (CES) of the University of Toronto provides assessments of international academic qualifications and compares them to those offered in Canada, which helps employers to better understand its clients’ credentials. Evaluates credentials for employment purposes. Services are available in French, but assessment reports are available in English only.

ICAS of Canada
Ontario AgriCentre,
100 Stone Road West, Suite 303
Guelph, ON N1G 5L3
Telephone: 519-763-7282
Toll Free (in Canada): 1-800-321-6021
Fax: 519-763-6964

The International Credential Assessment Service (ICAS) of Canada evaluates all documents at any educational level for assistance with employment, educational or career planning. General, detailed and customized reports are available to meet all needs. Reports are available in English and French.

Other Resources

The Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (ACESC)– provides a list of recognized evaluation services in Canada.

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credential (CICIC) – assists and informs you about foreign credential recognition and the assessment of diplomas and qualification in Canada.

The Foreign Credentials Referral Office – provides internationally trained individuals with the information, path-finding and referral services to have their credentials assessed and recognized. The FCRO is also responsible for guiding and monitoring the implementation of pre-arrival services.

Evaluate My Credentials – This section of, a public website for newcomers to Ontario, provides you with information on credentials assessment.

World Education Profiles – This World Education Services Canada database provides you with profiles of worldwide educational systems and their Ontario equivalents.

Assessment and recognition of credentials for the purpose of employment in Canada – This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked questions to help individuals learn more about how to obtain assessment and recognition of their qualifications.



 About the Author:

Tabinda Nayyar Siddiqui is a Human Resources Professional, specializing in HRIS Data Analytics, Reporting, Data Conversion, Implementation and Maintenance.

Restarting Your Career In Canada

By Tabinda Nayyar Siddiqui


I am a new Canadian who doesn’t know where to start or I have been at home for some time, where and how can I start my job search?

The best start is knowing who you are and what skills set you can offer employers. Always start with getting your credentials and languages skills assessed. This may seem like a long process but it helps in the long run. Here are some things to focus on as you search for employment:

Be happy and keep your chin up: It is helpful to be in a good mood when you are looking for a job, getting ready for document’s assessment or just researching your career options. Try to connect with positive people and think of things you are good at. Positive energies and an optimistic outlook goes a long way.

Know your assets: One way to facilitate this is to remind yourself of your assets, things that include skills, education as well as work ethics. You may want to log those assets because you will need to bring them to the attention of a potential employer and of course remind yourselves of what makes you valuable. This is really helpful if you have been a stay at home mom for a long time and at loss of motivation.

Talk to people; seek advice and evaluate in isolation: The most important asset is your ability to think about your situation critically. Following the mistakes or mistaken advice of others may only mean that you are doing the wrong thing. Advice needs to be considered, confirmed by others, treated as a possibility and weighed against knowledge, instincts and good sense.

Following are great resources to start. If you have any specific questions or concerns; feel free to contact me.

Language and Credential Assessment RESOURCES

2 Carlton Street, Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M5B 1J3

International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
Ontario AgriCentre
100 Stone Road West, Suite 102
Guelph, ON  N1G 5L

Comparative Education Service (CES) at the University of Toronto
158 St. George Street
Toronto, ON M5S 2V8

YMCA Language Assessment and Referral Centre
20 Grosvenor Street, 3rd floor
Toronto, ON M4Y 2V5

Toronto District School Board – Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
Multiple sites

Where ever you start your job search, we wish you the very best!

About the author:

Tabinda Nayyar Siddiqui is a Human Resources Professional, specializing in HRIS Data Analytics, Reporting, Data Conversion, Implementation and Maintenance.

English Language Test For Canadian Citizenship

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

photo credit: mars_discovery_district via photopin cc

photo credit: mars_discovery_district via photopin cc

As a permanent resident of Canada, the first step in getting that coveted citizenship is completing your residency requirements and gathering all relevant documents to send over to the CIC to initiate your citizenship application.

There has been much debate over residency requirements being changed to four years from the current three years of living in Canada. However, at the time of writing this article, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website (CIC) still states that:

To qualify (for applying for Canadian Citizenship) you must:

Once you complete the three year milestone, it is time to start gathering all relevant documentation and move onto step 2 of the above stated list: Language proficiency.

Canada, as we all know, has two national languages – English and French. While English is the standard across all of the country, French is required if you are applying from citizenship from Quebec or other provinces.

Our focus here is on English language testing for Citizenship application processing, particularly in Ontario.

Language test requirements are a recent change to citizenship law. I have friends and family who applied within months of each other. One family did not have any language test to sit through while another had to provide a proof of proficiency in English.

The first thing to do in this step is to get assessed.

Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment (CLBA)

A standard testing system that can be conducted at many language testing centres, this assessment is a comprehensive one that reviews your written, spoken, and reading skills in English. Basically you must be fluent enough in the language to perform your daily tasks when out and about in the country without need for any interpreter or language assistance.

There are 10 levels of the CLBA. The highest a CLBA testing centre can give you is an 8. You can only get level 9 or 10 if complete an ESL or another certificate at a Canadian institute of higher education.

If you are at a level of 4 or above, you can qualify for applying for citizenship, however, the CLBA test report is not a valid and recognized document in Canadian Citizenship application.

If you are at a level below 4 in the CLBA test, you will have to take some English language classes till you can be promoted to a higher level of the CLBA.

LINC / ESL classes

There are many centres that help new immigrants with ESL classes. These are known as LINC, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada. You can register and attend these sessions for free and improve your language skills till you get a better CLBA level, usually a 6 or above. These centres do not go above level 7.

For permanent residents who have scored a level 7 or 8 on their CLBA test, they can either register for another ESL course offered at community colleges, like the Enhance Language Training (ELT) or sit for a test.

Canadian education certificates

If you have completed studies in any Canadian college or university, a diploma, a certificate as part of continuing education programs, you can also attach your certificates from the institute as proof of English language proficiency. These are accepted by the CIC.

Third party tests

According to the CIC, there are only a few third party tests that are recognized by them for your application to be considered complete and processed any further. These include:

  1. Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General test (CELPIP-G)… You must have achieved a score of: 2H or higher (3L, 3H, 4L, 4H, 5 or 6) in speaking and listening; or
  2. CELPIP-General LS – a two-skills (listening and speaking) version of the CELPIP general test. You must have achieved a score of:2H or higher (3L, 3H, 4L, 4H, 5 or 6) in listening and speaking; or
  3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS), general training, not the academic version You must have achieved a score of: 4.0 or higher in speaking, and 4.5 or higher in listening.

There are some people who cannot manage the first two options. I had tested for a Level 8 with CLBA, however that is not a valid document to attach to my application, nor was I eligible for any free LINC classes. The only route available to me was to enroll in a paid ESL course or sit for the CELPIP. ESL required attending classes for 12 weeks and I could not manage that, so I chose to sit for CELPIP General LS Test instead.



Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program, the CELPIP is a computer based test. You register for a test, and pay the fee, 175 CAD for the General LS test and appear for the test on the given date.

You also have an option of doing a practice round or two here, just to get comfortable with the system.

The test itself is easy, it’s just getting used to talking to and listening to the computer. Results are available online after 8 days and you are also mailed your results to attach to your application.

Details of the test can be found here.

All tests done, certificates attached, forms completed, you can now send in your application and start waiting for a response from the CIC. If all your papers are in order, hopefully you will get one within six months, with a Study Guide and you can start preparing for the Citizenship test, as quoted above from CIC.

And also get your child to teach you O Canada. I have attended an Oath Ceremony and it truly is a soul stirring occasion…I hope to see mine soon, insha Allah.


About the author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the executive editor of, her children can sing O Canada both in English and French; she can only manage snatches of it in English!

Are you a citizen yet, or are you waiting to become a Canadian? How was your Canadian journey? Let’s connect on our Forums, we’d love to hear more from you.

Social Insurance Number – What And How’s

By Iman Khan

SIN Card Canada

Applying for a Social Insurance Number in Canada is a fairly straight-forward and free of charge process. It is one of the first things you should be taking care of upon your permanent move into Canada as an immigrant.

Why do I need a SIN?

Social Insurance Number is a unique 9-digit identifier that is essential for purposes of employment, including setting up a sole proprietorship business or incorporation. It is also required to gain access to benefits and programs endowed by the Canadian government to its residents and citizens. It enables employers to pay their workers, file for income taxes, and make contributions towards pension plans.

Where do I go to obtain a SIN?

The Social Insurance Number is issued to an individual through any Service Canada office. Search for one of their 184 offices in the province of Ontario here. Identify the agency closest to your location and visit them in person with clearly marked and labeled personal documents.

As of early 2014, the SIN is no longer printed on a plastic card, but is being issued in a paper format.

How do I apply for a Social Insurance Number?

Barring a few exceptional circumstances, it is required by the Government of Canada that all individuals apply for their SIN in-person at a Service Canada registered office. A parent or guardian is eligible to apply for a Social Insurance Number on behalf of a child below 12 years of age.

Walk into any location with your SIN application and primary documents at hand. Proof of residence, landing papers or citizenship documents are required to process a Social Insurance Number.

Make sure all credentials are original and in the English or French language. Paperwork in languages other than these two is to be accompanied by “an official translation attested to by the translator before a notary public, or prepared by an officer of a foreign government or an official of the British or Canadian Consulate.”

There is no fee that is applicable towards the issuance of a Social Insurance Number.

After submitting all your relevant documents, your Service Canada representative should be able to furnish your unique SIN in 15-20 minutes.

Do I apply for a Social Insurance Number for my newborn or minor child?

Turns out it is never too early to apply for a SIN! By having one handy for your newborn or underage child, you are in the best position to take advantage of various relevant government education schemes such as the RESPs, Canada Education Savings grant, etc.

What if I am not eligible for a Social Insurance Number?

If you are a temporary permit holder, or an international student and unable to apply for a SIN, you may be able to obtain an ITN (Individual Tax Number).

Can I open a bank account without a Social Insurance Number?

Typically, financial institutions do not require you to submit a SIN while opening an account with them.

Your Social Insurance Number is confidential data, and should not be shared with everyone. Be careful and use your discretion when handing out private information. For any direct queries or concerns, visit the Service Canada website here.

Do not miss our versatile 17-point checklist to make sure you are up to speed with your big move to Canada here!

How to Obtain Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

Ontario Health Insurance Plan

By Iman Khan

Every fresh immigrant or newcomer to Ontario is entitled to state-funded health care benefits, or the OHIP. While most of your healthcare needs are covered under this plan, services deemed unnecessary from a medical standpoint (e.g. cosmetic surgery) are not paid for. OHIP also does not cover dental plans, unless you are a family with a gross annual income of less than CAD20,000 in which case you may be entitled to other options.

Follow these easy steps to apply for your OHIP photo health card today!