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Toronto Pearson Airport, CanadaGetting that visa is an exciting milestone in your life, and it’s time for the next step in your journey. Once all the paperwork is done, including medicals, all your belongings are packed and your goodbyes are said, your Canadian journey has officially begun.

Your decision to immigrate has been made, and now is not the time to second guess yourself. You’ve already done so much to prepare for Canada, so trust in yourself.

Hopefully, you will have a great first experience at your landing. One of the first people you will meet at your point of arrival in Canada will be a friendly Canada customs agent.

You will deal with your goods and landing certificates here.

The other officials you will meet upon arrival at the airport will be from Immigration Services.

You will need to produce your passport and visa papers.

Immigration authorities at your point of arrival will give you application forms for a variety of documents that you will need, such as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card, application forms for a driver’s licence, for a health care card and for a child tax credit.

Most importantly, you will be given a form for a Permanent Resident Card (PR Card), which is proof that you are a legal resident of Canada.

Your First Steps in Canada

PR Card
Make sure you send in your form for your Permanent Resident Card. The Permanent Resident (PR) Card is a wallet-sized plastic card. You will need this card whenever you re-enter Canada. It is proof of your permanent resident status.

SIN Card

Applying for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) should be one of your next steps after arriving. Without this number, you cannot get a job or apply for any government assistance or credit. In fact, without it, you are virtually a person without an identity in Canada.

Medical services card

Apply for coverage in Canada’s health care system in your province right away. In several provinces there is a three-month waiting period before you will be covered by the public health care system, which is why I recommend applying immediately upon arrival.

Hospitalization, clinic visits and most doctors’ services are available free of charge to all residents of Canada registered under the national insurance program, although it is important to note that prescription medications are not covered by the Canadian medical system.

In most provinces, Medicare is totally funded by the province. In some provinces, however, everyone must pay medical insurance premiums to help fund the program. In many cases, employers in these provinces pay the medical insurance premium on behalf of their employees as a benefit of employment. Also, seniors or those on income assistance may have their medical premiums covered in these provinces.

Provinces also differ regarding which services are included and which are not included under their health care plans. Basic general physician services as well as basic hospitalization are covered in all provinces. But other services, such as ambulance, chiropractic, and physiotherapy services, may or may not be covered, or there may be a user fee involved.

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Medical insurance

If you live in a province where there is a waiting period for medical coverage, ensure you have private medical insurance to cover you and your family in the interim in case you need any emergency or other health care for that time.

Child Canada Tax Benefit

Another first step is applying for the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Did you realize that you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Government of Canada if you have children? The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is paid monthly to the parent most responsible for caring for any child under the age of 18. Payments are determined by family income and the number of children in a family.

Finding accommodation

A big first step is finding accommodation. While you will have arranged temporary accommodation from your country of origin, now it’s time to find a good place to rent for the medium term.

The best place to search for a rental is the internet and classified newspapers. You could also buy a public transit day pass and visit various residential neighbourhoods, where you will likely see posters in front of some apartment buildings, advertising their rentals.

There are many types of rentals: apartments, houses, condominiums (condos) and shared housing.

Most newcomers rent an apartment as their first home in Canada. Most apartments for rent are empty, but some buildings offer furnished apartments as well (usually short-term rentals). You have to keep the furnishings in the same condition as they were at the time you rented the place.

Condominiums are privately owned apartments and are likely to cost more and have better living conditions.

Renting a house can be a good option if you have a large family, but you should expect the rent to be higher. You can also rent a separate suite in a house.

If you are single, sharing rent with a roommate can be a good way to save money and meet new people.