By Iman Khan
Make sure you are on top of your game with this 17-point checklist in your first few weeks as a new immigrant in Canada:
- Apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This nine-digit number is a prerequisite to work legally in Canada, or to avail of any government programs and benefits.
- Apply for an Ontario Health Card to benefit from various provincial healthcare paybacks. Read more about OHIP here.
- If applicable, apply for The Canada Child Tax Benefit. According to Canada Revenue Agency, “The Canada Child Tax Benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18.” More information here.
- Open a bank account with any of the leading financial institutions conveniently spread throughout the province, with branches throughout the country.
- If you are looking for employment, locate the nearest employment resources service, recruitment agency or newcomer center in your area. Settlement workers are most helpful in making your transition to Canada as smooth as possible. They are also helpful in exploring job opportunities that are in line with your qualifications and work experience.
- Apply for your driver’s license. If you carry a driver’s permit from a foreign country, check to see if you are eligible for a direct license swap. If you do not qualify for a swap, obtain a comprehensive driver’s record from the country you are licensed to drive in, and submit with your Canadian driver’s permit application. If you have a clean driving history of more than four years, you may be allowed one attempt at a G License (through a driving road and highway test in the presence of a test supervisor). Note that this does not exempt you from the written rules and signs test.
- Get a clear idea of the routes and transportation system in your area. City maps are readily available at departmental chains, or convenience stores. Familiarize yourself with road names and districts to make your navigation experience easier. Or take the easy way and get a GPS for your car!
- To establish residency, identify a neighborhood that best suits your needs in terms of proximity to good schools, work place, and community centers etc. according to your family priorities. Mull over your options and decide on what housing needs would fit in with your expectations.
- Identify the school board and institutions for your chosen neighborhood. If you have a school-goer, look into bus options for your child. Looking to enroll your child in Canada’s acclaimed French Immersion Programs? Here are some great pointers to help you decide!
- Make a list of the nearest hypermarkets, hospitals, walk-in clinics, convenience stores, halal grocers, and gas stations in your neighborhood.
- Register yourself with a family doctor. Update your medical records and make sure your child’s immunization records are up to date.
- Locate a public library and community center nearest to your residence. Libraries are a great day out for school-going children, while the community centers are host to a number of learning, sports and fun-filled lessons and activities. More fun stuff to choose from here!
- Register your residential address with the Canadian Immigration Center (CIC) to keep your records clean and transparent.
- If you are not a native English speaker, and need some brushing up on your communication skills consider registering yourself at one of many free language resource centers throughout Ontario. More here!
- Register for an investment savings plan – The Registered Retirement Savings Plan or RRSP is a tax-deductible plan to secure your finances for after your retirement. The Registered Education Savings Plan or RESP is mostly a means to fund post-secondary education (colleges, universities etc), and is subject to taxes.
- Keep all your telephone records updated. The all-purpose emergency number throughout Canada is 9-1-1. Be sure to type out a contact list for the nearest police station, fire station, building security and an emergency contact. person Put it up in a place that is visible and handy at all times.
- Last, but not the least, ditch the Starbucks and own Tim Horton’s for a true Canadian ride!
About the author:
Iman Khan is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca