CANADA

Information about Canada.

Geography and climate

Canada is the northernmost country in the Americas and the second largest country in the world.

It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the United States of America (USA) to the south. Its total area is almost ten million square kilometres (9 984 670 km²). To put it clearly, Canada can cover 18 countries the size of France, or 40 Great Britain. Canada has six time zones and the longest coastline of all countries.

Canada is a mosaic of regions, from the harsh mountains in the west to the prairie agricultural communities, from the industrial and political power of Ontario to the modern Francophone culture of Québec, and from the charming fishing communities on the east coast to the great white north. Canada’s beauty and diversity are proud icons of what Canada has become.

Most of the country consists of plains, with mountains in the west and prairies in the center. About 90 percent of the more than 35 million people living in Canada are located 160 kilometers from the U.S. border, and about 75 percent of the total population lives in large cities and towns. Canada has more lakes and inland waters than any other country. There are more than two million lakes in Canada, which translates to 7.6 percent (755,180 km²) of freshwater in the world.

Due to its large size, Canada has many different types of landscape. There are areas with high mountains, different types of forests, prairie meadows and Arctic tundra where the land is permanently frozen. Canada is also home to many rivers and lakes.

As with Canada’s landscapes, the climate is varied throughout the country. The areas where the majority of the population lives generally have four different seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring.

Summer lasts from around June to September and the weather varies from warm to hot, with daytime temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius or Centigrade (68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. In southern Ontario and Quebec it can often be very wet.

        Autumn and spring are transition periods during which the weather gradually becomes colder or warmer and there is a significant proportion of annual rainfall.

        Winter is very cold in most places and temperatures often well below zero degrees Celsius or Centigrade (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Snow covers the ground from around December to March or April. The exception is south-western British Columbia (including the cities of Victoria and Vancouver), where winter temperatures tend to be above zero degrees and rainfall is more common than snow.

Depending on where you are leaving from, you may be very surprised by the cold and snow during the first Canadian winter. Make sure you buy a winter coat, shoes, gloves and a hat to keep you warm. With the right clothes, you will be prepared to enjoy the unique beauty of the Canadian winter.

For more information about Canada’s geography and climate, visit Atlas of Canada online at http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca. To see the weather forecast for each city and town in Canada, visit www.weatheroffice.gc.ca.

Cities, provinces and regions

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is located on the Ottawa River on the border between Ontario and Quebec. It is the fourth largest city in Canada.

Canada has 10 provinces and three territories, each with its own capital city. These provinces and territories are usually grouped into five regions (see Table 2.1 below).

Canada’s three largest cities are Toronto (Ontario), Montréal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia). The total population of these cities is over 10 million people (almost one third of Canada’s population).

Province/TerritoryTotal population: 34.5 millionCapitals
Newfoundland and Labrador514,536St. John’s
Prince Edward Island140,204Charlottetown
Nova Scotia921,727Halifax
New Brunswick751,171Fredericton
Quebec7,903,001Québec City
Ontario12,851,821Toronto
Manitoba1,208,268Winnipeg
Saskatchewan1,033,381Regina
Alberta3,645,257Edmonton
British Columbia4,400,057Victoria
Nunavut31,906Iqaluit
Northwest Territories41,462Yellowknife
Yukon Territory33,897Whitehorse

For more information, see the Atlas of Canada online at http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca.

The Canadian people

In 2010, Canada was home to approximately 34 million people. As a nation, Canada has three founding peoples: Aborigines, French and British. However, throughout the country’s history, immigration has also played an important role in building Canadian society.

The founding nations of Canada

The “Aborigines” are people whose ancestors lived in Canada before the arrival of European explorers, pioneers and settlers. The term refers to three different groups: The First Nations (sometimes called “Indians”), the Inuit and Methsias. Indigenous people live throughout Canada in their own communities as well as in cities. They have interesting cultures and make an important contribution to Canadian society.

Libraries

Public libraries are an excellent source of free information for newcomers. Most of them offer Internet access and various resources on many different topics. Many libraries also have collections of books and newspapers in different world languages. Staff can help you find the information you need. Some libraries have settlement staff who offer a range of services specifically for newcomers. A list of local libraries can be found in the Blue Pages or on the Internet.

Defense of Canada

In Canada, military service is not required, but it is a noble profession and an excellent career choice. You can choose to work in this profession:

  • The Royal Canadian Navy;
  • the Canadian Army; or
  • Royal Canadian Air Force.

Police

  The Canadian police are concerned about people’s safety and enforcing the law. There are different types of police, including federal, provincial, territorial and urban. The local police number can be found on the front pages of the phone book. If you need to call the police in an emergency, call 911.

Social Insurance Number

You should apply for SIN as soon as possible after you arrive in Canada. The SIN is a nine-digit number assigned by Service Canada on behalf of the Federal Government. You will need this number to work in Canada or apply for government programs and benefits.

When applying for a SIN, you must provide one of the following documents:

1) Permanent residents:

-CIC Permanent Resident Card: This is the only document accepted if your application for permanent residence has been processed in Canada.

-Confirmation of Permanent Residence and Counter-Package for visas affixed to an overseas passport or travel document.

2) Temporary Residents:

  • Work permit issued by CIC.
  • Study permit issued by CIC.
  • CIC guest register indicating that you are authorized to work in Canada.
  • Diplomatic ID card and work permit note from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Health Card

In Canada, governments pay for many aspects of health care using tax money. This means that you don’t pay for most services when you go to a doctor, clinic or hospital. For more details about the health care system in Canada, see the Canadian health care section.

To get health care in Canada, you will need a health insurance card. You must show this card every time you need medical services.

Improving your English and/or French language skills

Canada is a country with official bilingualism

Canada has two official languages: English and French.

English is the most widely spoken language in most provinces and territories. Apart from Quebec, 82 percent of Canadians speak English.

French is the main language used in Quebec and in some regions of Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. In addition, there are French-speaking communities in most other parts of Canada. Quebec also has a large minority of English-speaking people.

All official federal government services, publications and documents are available in both English and French.

Language proficiency tests and certificates

In some cases, you may need (or need) to prove your level of English or French (for example, when applying for a job or entering a university or college). In such cases you should always check what kind of proof is required. However, a number of language tests are widely accepted. These are language proficiency tests that can be used in a variety of situations. These tests and certificates are offered by independent organizations and not by the Canadian government. These tests can be taken in facilities throughout the country.

These are some of the most recognized English language tests and certificates:

-International English Language Testing System (IELTS). More information and a list of test centres can be found at www.ielts.org.

-Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) www.celpiptest.ca

-Test from English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL: commonly required by universities and colleges) www.ets.org/toefl

Employment and income

Finding a job is a top priority for many newcomers. Finding a job that matches your qualifications and interests is one of the biggest challenges of settling in Canada. For many people, their first job in Canada may not be the most rewarding. Building your qualifications and gaining Canadian experience can take some time to find the job you really want.

To work in Canada, you will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) issued by Service Canada on behalf of the federal government. You should apply for a SIN immediately upon arrival in Canada.

Recognition of a foreign statement of assurance

If you’re thinking about living and working in Canada, you need to know about recognition. Understanding how your educational and professional credentials are recognized will help you adapt to living and working in Canada.

Recognition of foreign credentials is the process of checking that education, training and work experience gained in another country meets the standards set for Canadian workers.

Workers’ Rights

In Canada, provincial and federal labour laws are designed to protect workers and employers. These laws set minimum wages, health and safety standards, working hours, parental leave and paid annual leave, and provide protection for children. There are also laws that prevent employers from treating employees unfairly on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. You should review the provincial and federal labor laws before you start working in Canada.

You have the right to join a trade union in Canada, and often this is an involuntary requirement, whether or not you choose it. EU fees will be deducted from your salary.

If you believe that your employer or trade union has treated you unfairly, you can seek advice or assistance from an officer in the Ministry of Labour in the province or territory where you work.

Employment insurance

If you are unemployed, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance (EI) depending on whether you meet certain requirements. The EI provides temporary financial assistance (regular benefits) while looking for a job or improving your qualifications.

You may also receive temporary financial assistance from EI if you are unemployed:

   Sick, injured or quarantined for health reasons;

  • pregnant or while caring for a newborn or adopted child; or
  • Care for a family member who is seriously ill with a high risk of death.

If you work in Canada, you must pay EI contributions to be able to use it if necessary.

Childcare

If you work and have small children, you may have to arrange childcare. In Canada, most families do not leave children under 12 years old alone at home. You may have to ask a family member or pay someone to look after your children while you are at work. There are a variety of childcare options: licensed day care centers, kindergartens, drop-in day care centers and home day care services.

Pensions : Canadian pension plan

The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) is a programme for workers and their families. It provides protection against loss of income due to retirement, disability or death.

Anyone who works in Canada is required to pay contributions to the CPP. Your employer will deduct your CPP contributions directly from your paychecks. The amount you pay depends on your salary. If you are self-employed, it is based on your net business income (at cost).

Education

Parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children. To help parents, in Canada, provincial and territorial governments administer and regulate education systems. There is no federal department of education or national education system. Instead, each province and territory has its own education system. Education systems are generally similar throughout Canada, with some differences between provinces and territories.

In some Provinces and territories there is only one ministry or department of education, while in others there are two: one responsible for primary and secondary education and the other for post-secondary education. The ministries or departments of education in a province or territory where you live are the main source of government information on all matters relating to education.

Primary and secondary education

Overview of primary and secondary education

Primary and secondary education are two basic levels of education for children and young people in Canada. Together, these two levels cover up to 12 years of schooling. Education usually starts with kindergarten (which prepares children for the school environment), followed by grades 1 through 12 in most provinces and territories. Students move from primary to secondary school between grades 6 and 8, depending on the province or territory. Students who successfully complete their secondary education receive a secondary school diploma.

The school year usually starts at the end of August and ends at the end of June. Children attend school from Monday to Friday during the school year (excluding holidays).

All children and youth in Canada have access to free, taxpayer-funded primary and secondary education in public schools (although age and residency requirements may apply). Most students in Canada attend public schools, but in most areas there are also private primary and secondary schools that provide an alternative to government public schools.

Since Canada is a bilingual country, English and French language schools are available throughout the country (even in areas where one language is more popular than another).

By law, children must attend school from the age of 5 or 6 until they reach the age of 16 to 18, depending on the province or territory. However, parents have the right to educate their children themselves at home, not in a public or private school.

Different aspects of school life in Canada

Teachers: Teachers usually have a university degree.

Mixed classes: In most schools, boys and girls learn together in the same class. However, some private schools are only for boys or girls.

School curriculum: There is an official curriculum in each province and territory that defines what students will learn in each classroom.

Religion: Each region has its own official curriculum, which specifies what students will learn in each class: Canadians practice religion according to many different traditions and may wish to have their children educated according to their beliefs. In some provinces, there are separate “Catholic” public schools that can be attended by students of any religion. In most communities there are also various private schools with religious affiliation. Since parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, they should not hesitate to talk to teachers about the content of any religious information that their children receive, whether in public or private schools.

Textbooks and school materials: Schools lend textbooks to their pupils. Parents are usually responsible for providing their children with school materials (examples include pencils, paper and geometry sets).

Special needs: Students who have special needs due to physical, cognitive, psychological, emotional, behavioural, linguistic or other difficulties may receive special support, either in a standard school or in a school specially adapted to their needs.

Application cards: Each school prepares report cards several times during the school year to inform parents about their child’s progress.

Absence from school: In Canada, children must attend school every day. If your child is absent from school due to illness or for personal reasons (such as family death), you must inform the school.

He or she will get to school: Children can go to and from school with their parents, on the school bus (sometimes provided by the school for a small fee or free of charge for their parents) or alone (on foot or by public transport) when they are older. Ask the school for information on school buses. When choosing a school for your children, you should consider travelling from home to school.

Closing down schools: Schools are sometimes closed for one or more days in the winter due to a snowstorm or heavy frost. If this happens, announcements will be made via the school or local radio and TV channels informing parents that their children must stay home that day.

The dress code: Schools usually have dress codes that describe the clothes that children can wear in school. Some schools (mostly private) require children to wear uniforms. If you have any questions or concerns about the dress code, please contact the school.

Extra-curricular activities: Extra-curricular activities are activities that take place outside school hours (before school, after school or during lunch). These activities include sports, art, hobby clubs, etc. Each school offers different extracurricular activities for students. These activities can help your child make friends, get used to the Canadian school system and develop interests in areas outside the school curriculum.

Field Excursions: Schools organize field trips for students to visit places that are important to their education (for example, museums, workplaces, cultural institutions and city districts). Before and after the trip, teachers will work with students on materials related to the trip.

Bullying: Bullying among children is an unfortunate reality and sometimes racial prejudices may be involved. Bullying should not be tolerated in schools all over Canada, so if your child is exposed to such bullying, make sure you talk to your teacher or school administration. I

Post-secondary education

There are different types of post-secondary education institutions and many forms of post-secondary education in Canada. Some institutions are “recognized”, meaning that the provincial or territorial government has given them the authority to award degrees, diplomas, certificates or other qualifications. Governments have processes to ensure that these institutions and the programmes they offer meet their standards. Other institutions do not go through governmental quality control and are not officially recognized. To find out if an institution is officially recognized, contact the ministry responsible for post-secondary education in your province or territory.

Universities

In Canada, universities are independent institutions that are partly financed by the government, although you still have to pay tuition fees. Universities offer programs that lead to various degrees in a variety of disciplines and subjects. A bachelor’s degree is the basic degree awarded by Canadian universities and usually lasts from three to four years. A master’s degree is a more advanced degree that usually requires one to three additional years of study. A PhD degree is the most advanced degree offered by Canadian universities and typically requires three or more years of study and research after a Masters degree. In regulated professions such as medicine, law and education, students must complete an internship or pass a standard exam in addition to their studies. They must complete all these steps before obtaining a licence to work in their profession.

Housing conditions

Temporary accommodation

One of the first needs upon arrival in Canada is a temporary residence until you can rent or buy a long-term home. If you don’t have family or friends in Canada that you can stay with, one option is to stay in a hotel or hostel.

Most hotels offer private rooms and bathrooms with telephone, internet connection and TV. Some of them have rooms with small kitchens that save you money by preparing your own meals instead of eating in a restaurant. The costs of hotels vary within each city, depending on the overall quality, services available and location. On websites and tourist guides the general standard and cost can be indicated by the number of stars that appear after the hotel name. Five stars usually indicate the highest standard and cost, and one star usually indicates the lowest.

Hostels are a more basic version of a hotel. In most hostels you can either get a private room or a bed in a large room that you share with other people. Laundry rooms are usually shared and there is often a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. The cost and standard of hostels vary, but many offer a clean, comfortable and cheap alternative to hotels.

You should book your hotel or hostel at least a few weeks before your flight to Canada. By booking in advance, you’ll probably save money and have a better chance of finding available rooms. Try to find a hotel or hostel that is centrally located and close to public transport. Beware of very cheap hotels or hostels. They can be located in unpleasant places or be very low standard.

To find the right hotel or hostel, you can:

Go online to the Yellow Pages and enter “hotels” or “hostels”;

Search the Internet for the tourist website of the town or village where you will be settling in (type “tourism” + “[name of the town]”) and read the list of accommodations;

  • search the Internet for hotels and hostels in the town or village where you are going to settle;
  • buy a travel guide to Canada with offers of hotels and hostels in a bookstore in your home country;
  • go to the airport information desk upon arrival (if you have not booked accommodation before arrival).

Most hotels and hostels have websites with prices, pictures, a location map and a description of the services they offer.

Loans for apartments – Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a federal government housing agency. CMHC provides Canadian residents – including newcomers – with the information and tools they need to make informed housing decisions. CMHC has a website specifically for newcomers, which can be found at www.cmhc.ca/newcomers. They also publish various printed publications for newcomers, including the Newcomer’s Guide to Canadian Housing: How to Find, Rent or Buy a Home in Canada.

Types of housing in Canada: How to Find, Rent or Buy a Home in Canada

Apartments for rent – Single family unit in a building or house. Most apartments have one, two or three bedrooms; “bachelor” units have one room which serves as living room and bedroom.

        Rooms for rent – Large houses are sometimes divided into several private bedrooms, which are rented to people who share a kitchen and bathroom.

        Condos – Most condos exist in buildings with multiple units. The owner pays monthly fees to the condos corporation, which carries out maintenance and repairs as required. A condominium can be a good choice for first-time buyers because it is usually one of the less expensive options. For more information about condominiums, visit www.cmhc.ca and write a “Guide for condominium buyers” in the search box.

Houses – There are single-family houses with surrounding property, as well as semi-detached and townhouses where each house shares a wall with another.

Tenants and landlords

Your “owner” is the person who owns the house or building in which you live. For larger buildings, the owner can hire a ‘property manager’ or ‘curator’ to collect the rent and manage the building.

The responsibilities of the landlord and tenant may vary in different provinces or territories. CMHC provides fact sheets which describe aspects of the tenancy process and related rights in the different provinces and territories. The factsheets also contain contact information for the regional and local authorities responsible for renting and related links. If you are planning to rent a house, you should read the fact sheet for the province or territory where you live. The information forms can be found at www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/reho.

Generally speaking, your landlord is responsible for your home:

        Charging the rent;

        Maintaining the building in a safe and good condition;

        Providing everything that comes with the apartment and is included in the rent (e.g. fridge, cooker, heating); and

        Servicing and paying for repairs when something in your house stops working.

As a tenant, you are generally responsible for:

  • Paying the rent in full and on time;
  • Keeping the house clean and in good condition;
  • Contacting the landlord every time something needs to be repaired or serviced; and
  • Allow the landlord or manager to enter your home to carry out repairs or to show the apartment to other tenants if you are moving out. Your landlord must tell you in good time before entering the property.

If the landlord is not fulfilling their obligations, you can contact the landlord’s authority in the province or territory where you live to get help using the contact details in Table 10.1.

Other forms of accommodation

Government assisted housing

Throughout Canada, governments subsidize or pay part of the rent to help low-income people pay for their homes and housing. In most cases, these subsidised homes have a long wait – sometimes many years. The rules vary from province to province, territory to territory and sometimes from city to city. Generally speaking, land immigrants or refugees have the right to move into subsidised homes, but rarely have priority over other people on the waiting list. You cannot sign up on a housing waiting list before you arrive in Canada.

Therefore, most eligible immigrants live in private rented accommodation before they can move into subsidized housing. When you arrive in Canada, you should ask for more information about local subsidized housing (see www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/services.asp for a list of organizations serving immigrants).

Co-op apartments

Co-op housing refers to a group of flats or houses that are jointly owned and managed by the ‘members’ who live in them. Since most cooperatives are not profit oriented, rents are often below average. However, you are expected to actively participate in the management and maintenance of the cooperative. To become a member of a cooperative, you apply to the governing board of the cooperative in which you want to live. If your application is accepted, you will usually sign a ‘lease agreement’, which is a legal agreement similar to a lease. To find a list of housing cooperatives in your city, check the Yellow Pages or search the internet.

Housing for college students

Most universities and colleges have a housing department that provides students with information about accommodation on and off campus. For more information contact the housing department of the university or college you plan to attend.

Emergency accommodation

Emergency accommodation (sometimes called “shelters”) is short-term accommodation for homeless people or people in crisis. It is a safe place to get basic necessities such as temporary shelter, shower, money and food. Emergency accommodation is helpful if you are evicted from your home, if you do not have shelter, or if you are vulnerable to abuse if you are in your home.

Shelter staff and volunteers will give you support and information. They can help you get legal advice, financial support and a new place to live if that is what you want. They also have food, clothes, diapers and toys in case you do not have time to pack these things. If you are being abused, shelter staff will not tell the person who abused you where you are.

Shelters are run by community groups. Their telephone numbers are usually listed on the front pages of the telephone book with other emergency numbers. You can also call the shelter for advice (you do not even have to give your name). Some staff members speak different languages or can provide an interpreter.

Senior citizens’ hostel

In Canada, there are several options for assisted accommodation for seniors. These include government funded and private residences for seniors. These residences provide a variety of on-site services to help seniors meet their daily needs. Take a look at the Blue Pages for government sponsored senior citizens’ homes and the Yellow Pages for private residences for seniors.

Healthcare in Canada

The Universal Health System in Canada

The Canadian health insurance system aims to ensure that all Canadians have access to health care.

All Canadian citizens and permanent residents can apply for public health insurance. If you have public health insurance, you do not pay directly for most healthcare services. Instead, all Canadians contribute to paying taxes for them. When using public health care services, you must show your health insurance card at a hospital or medical clinic.

Instead of a single national plan, the Canadian health care program consists of provincial and territorial health insurance plans. All these plans have some common features and standards. However, there are differences, so it is important to know what medical services and procedures a province or territory covers, as they may not be the same in other areas.

All provinces and territories, no matter where you live or where you can travel in Canada, will provide free emergency medical care even if you have not yet received your government health card. Restrictions may apply to some newcomers depending on their status as a newcomer.

In an emergency, go to the nearest hospital. If you go to a clinic in the province or in an area where you are not resident, you may be charged a fee.

Finding a doctor and dentist

Doctors

Many Canadians have a family doctor they go to whenever they need medical care. A family doctor provides all basic health care, including treatment in the event of illness and encouragement for preventive health care. This means that he or she will perform tests to detect and treat problems early before you get sick (e.g. blood tests, blood pressure tests, pap swabs). Your GP will send you to a specialist if necessary.

You can find a doctor in the Yellow Pages or get a recommendation from someone you know or from an immigration service organisation (see www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/services.asp for a list of organisations that serve immigrants). It can sometimes be difficult to find a GP who is taking more patients.

Emergency assistance

If you need urgent medical attention, quickly go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital or call the emergency number (911). Hospitals are listed on the front pages of the phone book.

The 911 call is free. All emergency medical services are also free in hospitals.

Money

Currency

The official currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar ($). There is 100 cents (¢) in one dollar. Coins, which are minted by the Royal Mint of Canada, differ in size, shape and color. This allows them to be quickly distinguished. All coins bear an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. The coins also have pseudonyms, which are used by Canadians in their daily lives. They belong to them:

1 cent – a penny, with the image of maple leaves on the back (the penny was withdrawn from circulation in 2012);

        5¢ – nickel, with an image of a beaver on its back;

        10¢ – a penny, with an image of the famous Bluenose sailing schooner on his back;

        25¢ – a quarter, with an image of a caribou or elk on its back;

        1¢ – a dollar or “loon”, with an image of a common loon on its back;

        2¢ – two dollars or “toonie”, with an image of a polar bear on his back.

Cost of living

The cost of living in Canada varies greatly depending on the province or territory in which you settle. Costs also vary depending on large cities and rural areas. Living in a smaller town or village is usually cheaper. You can find out more about the cost of living on the website of the province or territory or town of your destination.

Taxation

The people of Canada pay different taxes at all three levels of government: federal, provincial or territorial and urban. These taxes are used to fund government programmes and services, including health and education.

Knowledge of how the tax system works, both across Canada and across provinces and territories, is an important part of settling down effectively in Canada.

Because Canada is a federation, taxation in Canada is a joint responsibility of the federal government and the various provincial and territorial governments. Canadian provinces and territories have the ability to levy taxes on income, consumption and wealth, as does the federal government.

-Personal income tax on behalf of all provinces except Quebec, through a single tax return system;

    – corporate income taxes on behalf of all provinces except Quebec and Alberta; and

    -that part of the harmonised sales tax (HST) which exceeds the federal rate of value added tax (GST) for the provinces which have implemented it.

Federal taxes are collected by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Under the terms of the tax collection agreements, the CRA collects and transfers them to the provinces:

Current sales tax rates, that’s how much tax is paid on purchases.

Province/TerritoryHSTGSTPSTTAX
Alberta 5% 5%
British Columbia 5%7%12%
Manitoba 5%8%13%
New Brunswick15%  15%
Newfoundland and Labrador15%  15%
Northwest Territories 5% 5%
Nova Scotia15%  15%
Nunavut 5% 5%
Ontario13%  13%
Prince Edward Island15%  15%
Quebec 5%9.975%14.975%
Saskatchewan 5%5%10%
Yukon 5% 5%

Income tax

Canadians must pay income tax on income earned throughout the year. If you are paid, taxes are automatically deducted throughout the year. If you are self-employed, you may have to pay taxes in one or more payments. You must file a tax return and income tax return each year to tell the government how much money you have earned and how much tax you have paid. If you have paid too much tax, you will get a tax refund. If you have paid too little, you will have to pay more.

Both the federal and provincial/territorial governments impose income taxes on individuals. The federal government imposes most income taxes, with provinces and territories charging a slightly lower percentage, except in Quebec. Income taxes are generally progressive throughout Canada, with high income earners paying a higher percentage than low income earners.

Where income is earned in the form of a capital gain, only half of that gain is included in income for tax purposes. The other half is not taxed.
Federal income tax
Earnings tax Interest rate
Up to CAD 45,916 of taxable income 15%
PLUS
another CAD 45,915 of taxable income (from the portion of taxable income above CAD 45,916 to CAD 91,831) 20.5%
PLUS
Another USD 50,522 of taxable income (from a portion of taxable income above CAD 91,831 to CAD 142,353) 26%
PLUS
Another USD 60,447 of taxable income (from a portion of taxable income above CAD 142,353 to CAD 202,800 29%)
PLUS
Total taxable income above CAD 202,800 33%

In addition to this tax, there is a provincial tax. If you need information about the provincial income tax, write to us and we will send you this information.

Current minimum wages throughout Canada, from June 2019:

Alberta – $15.00 per hour, from October 1, 2018.

British Columbia – $13.85 per hour, as of June 1, 2019. The minimum wage is to increase to $14.60 as of June 1, 2020 and to $15.20 (or more) as of June 1, 2021.

Manitoba – $11.35 per hour, from October 1, 2018. The minimum wage is expected to increase to $11.65 as of October 1, 2019.

New Brunswick – $11.50 per hour, from April 1, 2019. The minimum wage in New Brunswick is adjusted annually from April 1 based on the consumer price index.

Newfoundland & Labrador – $11.40 per hour, as of April 1, 2019.

Northwestern Territories – $13.46 per hour, as of April 1, 2018.

New Scotland – $11.55 per hour, as of April 1, 2019. Nova Scotia has a different minimum wage for inexperienced employees, which is set at $11.05 per hour. These wages will increase to $0.55 per year in 2020 and 2021. From April 1, 2022, this rate will fall to annual inflation.

Nunavut – $13.00 per hour, from April 1, 2016.

Ontario – $14.00 per hour, from January 1, 2018.

Prince Edward Island – $12.25 per hour, from April 1, 2019.

Quebec – $12.50 per hour, from May 1, 2019.

Saskatchewan $11.06 per hour, from October 1, 2018. The minimum wage is to increase to $11.32 per hour, from October 1, 2019.

Average wage in Canada by province

Below are the average Canadian gross wages and salaries in each province, taking into account all employees in all sectors, before tax and deductions, these are earnings per person.

Alberta – $59.384/year

British Columbia – $49.24 per year

Manitoba – $47.632/year

New Brunswick – $ 46.64 per year

New Scotland – USD 45,292 per year

Newfoundland and Labrador – 53 820 USD/year

Ontario – $52,260 per year

Prince Edward Island – $42,380 per year

Quebec – $47,320 per year

Saskatchewan – $52.728/year

Average wage in Canada by sector

Finance and insurance – $70,668

Professional, scientific and technical services – $70,408

Public administration and civil service – $65,572

Wholesale trade (hydraulic/electrical) – $62,712 year

Educational services (teachers and directors) – $54,600 year

Healthcare and Social Welfare – $46,228

Retail trade – $28,808

Accommodation and catering services – $20,488 per year

Now that you know the average wages in each of the ten provinces, you may be interested in the average wages in each sector.

Highest-paid jobs

Now, high speed! If you’re just starting your career, you can consider these jobs. According to Statistics Canada, they have the highest earnings in the country, since 2018.

These earnings start with:

Specialist doctors – $ 380,440

Dentists – $149,760

Oil engineers – $ 130,520.

Engineering executives – $116,600

Professor and university lecturers – $ 120,848.

Other managers in public administration – $ 117,000.

Geoscientists and oceanographers – $115,440.

Senior managers and civil servants – $115,336.

Police officers on commission – $112,944.

Chemical engineers – $112,736.

Lowest-paid jobs

Below are the lowest paid jobs in Canada*, according to Statistics Canada.

Bartenders – $11.50

Food and beverage servers – $11.85

Hotel maître ds and hostesses – $12.85

Catering and kitchen staff – $13.05

Petrol station service – $13.05

Harvesters – $13.10

Nursery and greenhouse workers – $13.25

Shoe repairers and shoemakers – $13.65

Hairdressers – $13.75

Retail cashiers – $13.95

Only hourly wages, not including tips and commissions.

Banking

Banks and other financial institutions such as “credit unions” and “caisses populaires” are safe places to keep money. If your financial institution is a member of Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation, the government insures the money in your account up to a maximum of Cad 100,000. Anyone can open a bank account, even if you are a visitor in Canada.

Opening a bank account

In Canada, you have the right to a personal bank account, even if:

You have no job;

  • You don’t have the money to put it into an account right away;
  • You have a low credit rating; or
  • You’re bankrupt.

Most Canadian banks offer similar quality of service, including internet and telephone banking, mobile banking applications, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), debit and credit cards, bank loans and more.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)

Automated Teller Machines are very convenient and easy to use. They are self-service devices that allow users to perform basic banking activities, such as money deposits and withdrawals, transfers between accounts, printing account statements and much more, using a debit or credit card. They may be bank or private property, and the specific features available vary from device to device and owner to owner. Using an ATM from your own bank is free of charge, but fees are charged for using other banks’ ATMs. The use of private ATMs, which are often located in restaurants, bars, shopping malls and other public places, can be very costly.

Cheques

In Canada, cheques are often used to pay bills by post, to pay larger amounts (e.g. rent), and also as a form of payment when credit cards or direct payments are not accepted. Please note that when writing a cheque, you must have enough money in your account to pay the full amount specified on the cheque. If you have no money in your account, the cheque will be returned to you for insufficient funds (NSF) and your bank will charge you a fee.

Debit cards

In Canada, debit cards can be used as an alternative form of payment almost anywhere, usually at no extra charge. For this reason, Canadians often carry very little cash with them. Interac is a collection of banks and merchants who all use the same payment system. With the help of Interac e-mail (e-transfers) you can send money online to any other person who has a Canadian bank account with the possibility to send Interac e-mails via their e-mail address (bank account details are not necessary).

Credit cards

Getting a loan means borrowing money to buy something now and paying it back later with interest. Interest rates can be high and the credit rating is considered very important in Canada, so be careful when using a loan. If you want to start using your credit card, you can apply to most banks, online or in person. Credit cards allow you to spend money on credit and receive a bill for it within one month. If you pay the full amount spent within the specified payment period, you will not be charged any interest. It is also possible to sign up for credit card rewards programs, thanks to which you will receive points for every credit card purchase you make.

These points can later be paid for products and services.

Bank loans

Canadian banks offer a variety of loans, including personal and corporate loans. Personal bank loans are extremely useful and can help manage substantial payments such as college education, cars, home improvements and more. A personal loan gives the borrower a fixed dollar amount and agrees to pay the full amount plus interest over a fixed period of time. Loans are granted at the discretion of the bank.
Before signing a loan agreement, it is important to make sure you understand your responsibilities regarding the repayment schedule, late or missed payments, loan sharing and interest.

Urban transport

Public transport (public transit)

All cities and most major cities in Canada have a public transport system with one or more means of transport (bus, metro, train, etc.). Routes usually reach most parts of the city, but services are usually more frequent in central areas. If you plan to use public transport for your daily commute, you should explore your transport options before deciding where you live.

The bus is the most common form of public transport in Canada. In addition to the bus network, some cities also have trams, city trains or subways. In most cases, you can easily move from one mode of transport to another.

To use public transport, you will need to buy a ticket or transit pass. Transit tickets allow unlimited use of public transport for a certain period (one month or more). They are usually cheaper than buying multiple tickets if you plan to use public transport frequently.

Driving in Canada

Driving licences

To drive in Canada, you need a driving license. It is illegal to drive without a license, and the penalties for doing so are very high. In Canada, a driver’s license is issued by provincial and territorial governments. You must obtain a driving license from the province or territory where you live. This driver’s license will allow you to drive anywhere in Canada. You must have it with you when you drive.

If you have a valid driving license from your home country, you will probably be able to use it to drive in Canada for a short time after you arrive. For details, contact your local or regional government department responsible for cars and driving. If you plan to use your foreign licence in Canada, you should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country. The International Driving Permit (IDP) provides a translation of your driving licence into different languages, including French and English.

The process of obtaining a driving licence in Canada depends on the province or territory in which you live and your origin. You may need to take a written test of road traffic regulations (guides are available) and one or two driving tests. You may choose to pay for driving lessons in order to prepare for the driving exams. Once you have obtained your driving licence, you should renew it periodically.

Car insurance

Driving without car insurance in Canada is strictly forbidden. If you have a car, you must obtain insurance. If you regularly drive a car that belongs to a relative or friend, you should make sure that you are listed in their car insurance plan. If you rent a car, you will have to arrange insurance through a car rental agency.

There are different types of car insurance plans. Some insurance plans only cover the cost of damage and injury to others if they are at fault as a result of an accident. Other plans also cover costs related to personal injury and damage to your car. The cost of car insurance depends on the insurance plan chosen and other factors such as age, driving experience, driving history and residence. Costs also vary depending on the insurance company. For this reason, you should contact several companies for the price of their insurance plans. You should also make sure you understand what your insurance plan covers before you choose it. Contact information about insurance companies can be found in Yellow Pages or on the internet.

Postal services

Canada Post, a branch of the federal government, is responsible for postal services in Canada. Through Canada Post you can send and receive mail and parcels to and from anywhere in the world.

For information about many of the services and products offered by the Canadian Post Office, visit www.canadapost.ca or visit any post office in your city or town. The addresses of the post offices are listed on the website. In smaller towns and rural areas, the Canadian Post Office is often a useful source of general information and a popular place in the community.

Internet

The Internet is a useful tool in everyday life for most Canadians. For example, many people in Canada use the Internet to look for and apply for jobs, do banking, explore and buy a variety of products, and read news.

The Internet is free for patrons, at public expense, in most public libraries.

Television and radio

There are many private TV and radio stations in Canada, including channels for immigrant communities that broadcast in many different languages. Canada also has a national taxpayer-funded broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Société Radio-Canada, whose services are available in English and French.

Recognition of foreign certificates

If you’re thinking about living and working in Canada, you need to know about recognition. Understanding how your educational and professional credentials are recognized will help you adapt to living and working in Canada.

Recognition of foreign credentials is the process of checking that education, training and work experience gained in another country is equivalent to the standards set for Canadian workers.

Here are some things you need to know:

-Qualification to emigrate to Canada does not mean that your education, work experience and job references are automatically recognized in Canada.

-You may need a license to work in some professions in Canada, including some industries. You must have a recognized qualification to get a license.

-You can start the process of assessing and recognizing qualifications before you arrive in Canada.

-To get your qualifications recognized takes time and costs money.

The Federal Government has a Credit Advice Bureau (FCRO) to facilitate the recognition process. FCRO provides information on how to get your qualifications recognized in Canada. This information is available on the FCRO website at www.credentials.gc.ca or at Service Canada (call 1-888-854-1805 or visit Service Canada Centre in person). The FCRO website is also an excellent source of information on many other aspects of seeking work in Canada.

Before you arrive in Canada

  1. collect and bring to Canada all official documents belonging to you and your family members who are leaving with you.

Common documents include:

  • birth certificate
  • Passport
  • marriage or divorce certificate; deceased spouse’s death certificate
  • provisions for the adoption of adopted children
  • educational diplomas and certificates; transcripts containing a list of the courses you have taken in order to obtain your degree or certificate
  • official documentation on vaccination
  • medical documentation (prescriptions, test results, X-rays, allergies, etc.) and dental records
  • Driving licence and/or International Driving Licence (IDP)Some of these documents may not be required immediately, but it is better to take all official documents with you if they are needed or useful in the future.

It is often much more difficult to obtain these documents when you leave your home country. If the original documents are not in English or French (the official languages of Canada), you should obtain certified translations.

If none of these languages are your first language, try to improve your English or French. Communication skills may be the most important tool you can have to successfully settle down in Canada and find a good job. The language you will focus on will depend on which language is most used in the area where you have decided to settle.

-Prepare to find a job in Canada by doing the following: Collect all your diplomas and educational certificates.

-Get letters of reference from your previous employers.

-Learn and begin the process of official recognition of your educational and professional qualifications in Canada.

-Find out whether your profession is “regulated” or “unregulated” in Canada.

-Learn how to look for and apply for jobs in Canada.

Important!

  1. Find out about the education system in Canada. Learn about the application and registration deadlines for schools, colleges and universities. For information about schools for your children and educational opportunities for yourself, read the education section.
  2. Purchase of private health insurance. This insurance covers emergency medical treatment until you obtain government health insurance in Canada. Private health insurance is necessary because the period between filing an application and receiving a government health insurance card can be three months or more.
  3. If you come to Canada in the fall, winter or spring, buy warm clothing that will keep you comfortable for the first few days. 1 Call or visit an immigrant organization in your city to find out what services they provide, paid for by generous Canadian taxpayers, to help you settle in Canada. For information about organizations that provide services for immigrants and to find out how to find one nearby.
  4. Apply for a government health insurance card. The government health insurance card allows you to get taxpayer-funded medical care in Canada. You should apply as soon as you arrive in Canada. See the section “Important documents” for more information.
  5. Apply for a National Insurance Number (SIN). You cannot work in Canada without a SIN. You should apply as soon as you arrive in Canada.
  6. Provide your Canadian address (CIC) so you can get a permanent residence card at the post office.
  7. Open an account with a Canadian bank. For information about opening a bank account and other financial matters, see the Money and Finance section.
  8. Get a map and walk around to get to know your city or town and the services available. Also explore the best way to get from one place to another by public transport. For an overview of transport options in Canadian cities, read the section on transport.
  9. Learn a convenient way to make phone calls and access the Internet. For more information, read the communication and media section.
  10. Remember the national emergency telephone number: 911 In case of a medical or other emergency, do not hesitate to call for help.

During your first two months in Canada

  1. if you do not have a job yet, you should start looking for a job quickly. You can get information about job offers, preparing a CV for Canadian employers, mentoring programs, etc. from your local settlement organizations.
  2. if your first language is not English or French, plan to improve your English or French skills. Canadians are very generous people. Their taxes pay for you to have these language classes.
  3. look for a house to rent or buy.
  4. register your children at school.
  5. Find out what educational options are available to improve your qualifications.
  6. Find out about the public and private schools available in your area. As parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education, parents should take an active interest in what is being taught in their children’s schools.
  7. Obtain a Canadian driving license if you plan to drive in Canada.
  8. Familiarize yourself with Canadian law and your civil rights and duties as a resident of Canada.
  9. Find a doctor or health care center where you can go for your medical needs. Once you get your government health insurance card, arrange for a medical examination and vaccination update.