Congratulations, and welcome to Canada! One of the first things you should do is register with the settlement services agency closest to you. Settlement workers have helped settle many people in your situation. Their offices are in the larger centres of North Bay, Timmins, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie but they can assist you in smaller centres in person, or by telephone, email, or Skype.
You'll find lots of good information to help you learn what you need to know before you arrive in Canada, when you're preparing to arrive in Canada, and after you arrive.
The Government of Canada has information available on what to expect when you arrive in Canada. We urge you to register with the settlement agency closest to you so you can connect with the settlement workers. They'll know the community, schools, health system, government programs, where to find a language class, and much more. Their services are free.
The Settlement Online Pre-arrival (SOPA) provides opportunities for immigrants to access various skills development courses to prepare for the Canadian workplace before their departure to Canada.
If you are a temporary foreign worker, in most cases you must have a work permit issued by the federal government. If you are an international student, you must come to Canada with enough money to cover tuition and living expenses. In some situations, students are able to work while studying and after graduation. In these cases, students will also require a work permit.
Newcomer settlement services agencies are your one-stop shop for immigration information and settlement services. Their free services include:
- settlement and orientation
- community connections and mentoring
- interpretation and translation (fee)
- English or French language class referrals
- Permanent Resident applications and renewals
- citizenship assistance
- social events
- document certification
- employment support and more
Learn more about the settlement service agencies in Northeastern Ontario by visiting their websites: North Bay & District Multicultural Centre; Timmins & District Multicultural Centre; Kirkland Lake Multicultural Group YMCA of Sudbury Newcomer Services; Sudbury Multicultural & Folk Arts Association; Sault Community Career Centre. For information on settling in Northwestern Ontario, please visit the NWO Portal.
First Days’ Guide
Your first days in Ontario will probably be hectic. Settlement workers can help you with the first steps newcomers typically take after arriving in Canada. A settlement service agency can:
- help you find a place to live
- apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- apply for an Ontario Health Card (OHIP)
- open a bank account
- get information about working in Ontario
- find a doctor, dentist and other services
- connect you with an employment centre to help you find a job,
- obtain a public library card
- apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
- give you a map of your community
- help you obtain a driver’s licence
- find language classes
- and learn about the best places to shop
In Ontario, there are nine recognized holidays. With few exceptions, banks, schools, retail stores and businesses are typically closed on these days. Most employees are entitled to take these days off work, with pay, or be paid a premium for working that day.
New Year’s Day—January 1
Family Day—3rd Monday in February
Good Friday—Friday before Easter
Victoria Day—Monday before May 25
Canada Day—July 1
Labour Day—1st Monday in September
Thanksgiving Day—2nd Monday in October
Christmas Day—December 25
Boxing Day—December 26
Civic Holiday, the first Monday in August is not an official statutory holiday, but is observed by most Ontario employers. Remembrance Day on November 11 and Easter Monday (the Monday following Easter) are not official Ontario holidays, but federal employees in Ontario are entitled to them.
After you have been in Canada for a few years you may want to apply for Canadian citizenship. As a Canadian citizen you will be eligible to vote in municipal, provincial and federal elections and carry a Canadian passport. Your nearest settlement services agency can help you prepare for the citizenship test.
Social Insurance Number
Applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) is fast and simple. You have to have a SIN to work in Canada or receive benefits and services from government programs, so this should be one of the first things you do. If you have any difficulty, a settlement worker at an agency near you can assist you with the process.