Why Canada?
Canada consists of 10 provinces and three territories in five main regions: the Atlantic region, Central Canada, the Prairies, the West Coast and the North. The culture and population are different in each region. The Atlantic region consists of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Activities such as fishing, farming, forestry, tourism and mining are important to the Atlantic economy. Central Canada consists of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This is the most populated region of the country. Together, Ontario and Quebec produce more than three-quarters of all Canadian manufactured goods. The Prairies include the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Much of the land is flat and fertile, excellent for farming and rich in energy resources. In western Alberta, the Prairies end and the Rocky Mountains begin. The Canadian Rockies include some of the largest peaks in North America. On the West Coast, the province of British Columbia is famous for its mountain ranges and forests. Natural resources such as lumber and fish are important to the economy. Fruit farming is also a major industry, as is tourism. The North consists of Canada’s three territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Together, they make up over one-third of Canada’s land mass. Northern resources include oil, natural gas, gold, lead and zinc
 
CLIMATE
Most of Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperatures and weather in each season can be different from one part of the country to another. Here is what you can expect. Spring: Spring is a rainy season in most parts of Canada. Daytime temperatures rise steadily, but the nights remain cool. Average daytime temperatures are about 12°C in March, April and early May. Summer: Summer officially begins on June 21, but July and August are summer for most Canadians. In summer, the weather is very warm in most parts of the country. In southern Canada, daytime temperatures are normally above 20°C and can sometimes rise above 30°C. Autumn: The autumn season, or fall, as it’s often called, begins in September. The weather cools and the leaves on many trees change colour and fall to the ground. It can also be very rainy at this time of year. In some parts of Canada, especially northern or mountain regions, snow may begin to fall by late October. Average daytime temperatures are about 10°C to 12°C in most of the country. The autumn months are September, October and November. Winter: During the winter months (December, January and February), the temperature in most of the country usually stays below 0°C, day and night. Temperatures in some parts of the country periodically drop below -25°C, while along the West Coast, the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In most of Canada, snow will be on the ground from mid-December to the middle of March. The higher in elevation and the farther north you go, the longer and colder winter becomes.
 
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
The provinces run schools and universities; therefore, education varies somewhat from province to province. Most elementary and secondary schooling is public, meaning it is free and open to everyone. Depending on the individual province, primary education starts at pre-kindergarten and continues to the end of grade 6 or 8. This is followed by secondary education or high school. In some provinces this may be divided into junior high (grades 7 to 9) and senior high (grades 10 to 12). Normally, students must complete the required academic courses in high school in order to be admitted to university or college. The regular school year runs from late August or early September until mid- to late June. New students can usually be registered throughout the school year. Most schools are closed on national holidays. Also, all schools are closed between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, and most are closed for a week in March for spring break. The longest school holiday occurs over the summer months of July and August. Universities and community colleges hold their regular classes from late August or early September until April, although some courses are offered from January to April and a smaller number are available over the summer months. University and community college courses are not free and the costs vary among the provinces.
 
International Educational Assessment
Even if you have many years of experience, you do not automatically have the right to practice your trade or profession in Canada. In most cases, you will need to have your credentials assessed to see whether you need more training, education or Canadian work experience before being qualified to practice. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials Web site (www.cicic.ca) has information on academic and occupational credentials for all of Canada and lists nearly 200 professions and trades, in alphabetical order.
 
HEALTH CARE
Canada has a public health-care system known as “medicare.” It provides insurance coverage for health-care services to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick have a three-month waiting period before you become eligible for medicare coverage. If you are planning to settle in any of these provinces, you should buy private health insurance coverage for the first three months. Health-care services covered by medicare include examination and treatment by family doctors; many types of surgery; most treatment by specialists; hospital care; X-rays;many laboratory tests; and most immunizations. Health-care services not covered by medicare, and for which you will have to pay, include:ambulance services; prescription drugs; dental care; and glasses and contact lenses. These services are however sometimes covered by workplace benefit packages.
 
SOCIAL SECURITY
To work in Canada, you must have a Social Insurance Number. This is a nine-digit number that you will need to look for a job and to receive government benefits. Sometimes, you will hear people call it the SIN number. You can get a SIN application form through the Human Resources Centre near you or from the post office, or on the Internet. The SIN card will be sent to you in the mail. There is a small fee for processing the application.
 
HOUSING
Canada has many different types of housing and a wide range of prices. Finding the right place will take some time and effort. Your first decision will be whether to rent a house or an apartment, or to buy a house. Whether you rent or buy will depend on your personal finances and whether you already have a job in Canada. Most newcomers decide they should first rent a house or apartment. This gives them more time to save money to buy a house and to decide where they want to live. If you want to buy a house, unless you can pay the full price, you will need to get a longterm loan called a mortgage. Mortgage loans are provided by banks and other financial institutions. They decide whether the borrower has enough income, more assets than debts, and a good credit rating. Most will ask you to pay at least five percent of the cost of the house from your own money.
 
Types of Housing
Furnished or unfurnished: Furnished housing should include beds, tables, chairs, lamps, curtains, a stove and a refrigerator. Unfurnished housing may include a stove and a refrigerator, but not always. Room for rent: This is usually in a house or an apartment that is owned or rented by other people. Everyone shares the kitchen and bathrooms. Bachelor or studio apartment: These are small apartments designed mainly for one person. They have one large room with a kitchen and a sleeping area, plus a separate bathroom. Other apartments: Most other apartments have from one to three bedrooms. All will have a separate kitchen, a living room and a bathroom. Duplex: This is a house divided into two separate apartments. It may be bought or rented. Townhouse: This is a small house joined to other houses. It may be bought or rented. Condominium: Condominium ownership means you own the unit you live in and share ownership rights for the common space of the building. Common space includes areas such as corridors, the grounds around the building, and facilities such as a swimming pool and recreation rooms.

 

PLANNING FOR CANADA

Essential Documents
If possible, get all of your documents translated into English or French by a qualified translator before you leave for Canada. When you travel to Canada, you will need to have the following documents with you:
  • A Canadian immigrant visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member traveling with you;
  • A valid passport or other travel document for each family member traveling with you;
  • Two copies of a detailed list of all the personal or household items you are bringing with you; and
  • Two copies of a list of items that are arriving later. The lists should state how much your personal and household items are worth.
  • Enough money to cover living expenses such as rent, food, clothing and transportation for a six-month period. You may be asked to show proof of your funds.
Important Documents
Depending on your personal situation, you should bring the following important documents with you to Canada:
  • Birth certificates or baptismal certificates;
  • Marriage certificates;
  • Adoption, separation or divorce papers;
  • School records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you;
  • Trade or professional certificates and licenses;
  • Letters of reference from former employers;
  • A list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience (this is also called a résumé);
  • Immunization, vaccination, dental and other health records for each family member;
  • Driver’s license, including an International Driver’s Permit;
  • Photocopies of all essential and important documents, in case the originals get lost (be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place from the originals)
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