Moving to Canada: A 10 Step Guide
Canada, a vibrant, multi-cultural country, with 13 interesting and diverse provinces and territories, is an excellent place to both visit and live. With three of its cities ranked in the top 10 best cities to live in the world, Canada is known for its friendly people, great food, incredible sights, and radiant culture. Whether you are a student, tourist, or looking for work, there are several visas available for coming into Canada. Here is a ten-step amendment for what you need to know when moving to Canada:
Step 1: Visa & Legal Information
There are four main categories on which you can apply for a visa for Canada:
1) Visitor Visa:
This type of visa allows a person to entry Canada for reasons of doing temporary trade practices or for tourism. There are four types of “Temporary Resident” visas:
- Multiple Entry Visa: This visa allows you to visit Canada from any country during the validity of your visa. The visa can be granted for up to 10 years or until your passport expires.
- Parent and Grandparent Super Visa: This visa allows the parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for up to 24 months.
- Single Entry Visa: This visa allows you to visit Canada only once within a specified period of time.
- Transit Visa: This visa is required for those who are travelling through Canada to another country and would need a temporary resident visa.
For more information on eligibility/requirements, costs, length of visa, and processing times, please visit this website.
2) Study Visa:
This type of visa allows foreign students who have been admitted to a Canadian school to stay during the length of their studies. The applicant must first secure admission with the Canadian school before applying for the visa. You DO NOT need a study visa if you are planning to study in Canada for 6 months or less, unless you are planning to work on the campus or are participating in a co-op/internship program. For more information on eligibility/requirements, costs, length of visa, and processing times, please visit this website.
3) Work Visa:
Most non-Canadians who are planning to work in Canada during their stay will need a work permit. To apply, you must have a job offer from a Canadian employer and it must be verified by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. You must apply for a work permit if: a) you and your dependents require a temporary residents visa, b) your children need a study permit, c) you will be working as life-in caregiver or seasonal agricultural worker, d) or you or your dependents have committed a criminal offense. There are certain cases where foreigners do not need to obtain a work visa. For more information on eligibility/requirements, costs, length of visa, and processing times, please visit this website.
4) Immigrant Visa:
When planning to immigrate to Canada, there are several programs through which you can apply for a visa:
- Federal Skilled Workers: For people who meet the proper language, education, and work skills.
- Skilled Trade: For people who want to become residents of Canada based on their qualifications in a skilled trade.
- Business Immigration: For people who wanted to start a business in Canada.
- Provincial Nominee: When a province or territory nominates you to work and settle within its boundaries.
- Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers and Business People: For people who are selected by the Quebec government to work and settle within its boundaries.
- Canadian Experience Class: For people who have recent Canadian work experience and would like to work and settle within Canada.
- Family Sponsorship: When a close relative, who is a permanent resident of Canada, sponsors you to live in Canada.
For more information about eligibility/requirements, costs, length of visa, and processing times, please visit this website
Step 2: Accommodation
When it comes to where to live in Canada, there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. There are 13 provinces and territories within Canada, all of which have their own unique features and culture. Here is a short look into each province/territory and the best places to live within each:
- British Columbia: Also referred to as BC, this province is on the West Coast of Canada, with the 3rd largest population among the provinces/territories with approximately 4.4 million people. British Columbia is known for its vibrant wildlife, mild weather, beautiful landscapes, and gorgeous masses of water. Some of the best places to live in BC include Vancouver (largest city and the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics), Victoria (the capital city), Kelowna, Surrey, and Nanaimo. For more information about housing, please visit the government of British Columbia website under the residents tab: .
- Alberta: Located in Western Canada, Alberta is known as one of Canada’s “prairie provinces”, with the 4th largest population of approximately 4 million people. Alberta is best known for its stunning mountains, diverse wildlife, Athabasca oil sands, and beautiful lakes and rivers. Some of the best places to live in Alberta include Calgary (the largest city and host of the 1988 Olympics), Edmonton (the capital city), Red Deer, Strathcona County, and St. Albert. For more information about housing, please visit the government of Alberta website .
- Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan is one of the three “prairie provinces” of Canada, with the 6th largest population of approximately 1 million people. Saskatchewan is best known for its flat landscape, as well as its agricultural, mining, and energy industries. Some of the best places to live in Saskatchewan include Saskatoon (the largest city), Regina (the capital city), Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current. For further information about housing, please visit the government of Saskatchewan website .
- Manitoba: Manitoba is the last of the three “prairie provinces” of Canada, with the 5th largest population of approximately 1.2 million. Manitoba is known for its provincial parks, high population of polar bears, and architectural industry. Some of the best places to live in Manitoba include Winnipeg (the capital city), Brandon, Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, and Thompson. For further information about housing, please visit the government of Manitoba website .
- Ontario: Recognized as the “economic engine of Canada”, Ontario is the most populated province in the entire country with approximately 12.8 million people. Ontario is best recognized for its fresh water, large metropolitan areas, gorgeous parks, and manufacturing industry. The best places to live in Ontario include Toronto (the largest city and capital), Ottawa (the capital of Canada), Oakville, Kingston, and Burlington. For more information about housing, please visit the government of Ontario website .
- Quebec: Quebec is the province in Canada where the first language of the majority of people is French. Quebec is the 2nd most populated province in Canada, with a population of 7.9 million. Quebec is well recognized for its diverse French culture, natural resources, and hydro-electricity industry. Some of the best places to live in Quebec are Montreal (the largest city and host of the 1976 Olympics), Quebec City (the capital city), Laval, Gatineau, and Levis. For more information about housing, please visit this website.
- New Brunswick: As one of Canada’s “maritime provinces”, New Brunswick is the 8th most populated province in Canada, with approximately 750,000 people. New Brunswick is best known for its bilingualism, high tides, historical towns, and forestry. Some of the best places to live in New Brunswick are Moncton, Saint John (the largest city), Fredericton (the capital of city), Bathurst, and Miramichi. For more information about housing, please visit the government of New Brunswick website.
- Prince Edward Island: Also referred to as PEI, Prince Edward Island is located in Atlantic Canada with the 10th largest population of approximately 140,000 people. PEI is most recognized for its small communities, gorgeous landscape and scenery, and largest agricultural sector. Some of the best places to live in PEI are Charlottetown (capital and largest city), Summerside, Stratford, and Cornwall. For more information about housing, please visit the government of PEI website.
- Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia is the last of the “maritime provinces” in Canada, located on Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia is the 7th most populated province in Canada, with a population of approximately 920,000 people. Nova Scotia is known for its beautiful harbors, large fishery industry, and gorgeous coastlines. Some of the best places to live in Nova Scotia are Halifax (the capital and largest city), Sydney, Truro, Yarmouth, and New Glasgow. For more information about housing, please visit the government of Nova Scotia website.
- Newfoundland & Labrador: Most commonly referred to as Newfoundland, this island province is the 9th most populated province in Canada, with approximately 480,000. Newfoundland is best known for its incredible cliffs and coastlines, historical communities, and large fishery industry. Some of the best places in Newfoundland are St. John’s (the capital city), Mount Pearl, Corner Brook, Conception Bay, and Gander. For more information about housing, please visit the government of Newfoundland website.
- Yukon: Yukon is one the three territories located in Northern Canada. It is the 12th most populous area in Canada, with approximately 33,897 citizens. The Yukon is best recognized for its mining and tourism industries as well as Aboriginal culture. Some of the best places to live in the Yukon are Whitehouse (the capital city), Dawson City, and Watson Lake. For more information about housing, please visit this website.
- Northwest Territories: The Northwest Territories are located in Northern Canada are a part of three territories in Canada. The Northwest Territories is the 11th most populated area in Canada, with approximately 41,000 citizens. The Northwest Territories is best known for diamond mining, Aboriginal culture, and natural resources. Some of the best places to live in the Northwest Territories are Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, and Fort Smith. For more information about housing, please visit the government of Northwest Territories website.
- Nunavut: As the newest territory to Canada, Nunavut is the least populous of all the areas in Canada with approximately 31,000 people. Nunavut is recognized for its vast land, art, mining industry, and natural resources. Some of the best places to live in Nunavut include Iqaluit, Arviat, and Rankin Inlet. For more information, please visit this website.
For more information about affordable housing in Canada, please visit this website.
Step 3: Transport
There are several efficient ways to travel within Canada and within province:
- Flights: Since Canada is a very large country, travelling from coast to coast can take up to 7 hours by plane. As a result, flying is sometimes the most effective way to get from one place to the next within Canada is to fly. The best airlines to fly within the Canada are Air Canada, Porter Airlines, WestJet, Skyservice, and Sunwing. In order to compare flight costs, visit this website.
- Rail: The largest railway system in Canada is Via Rail , which conducts train rides all over Canada. Via Rail offers “escape fares” for as low as $30, which makes using the train a cost efficient way from getting from point A to point B, especially within province. In addition to a national railway system, there are also several provincial railway systems such as the GO Transit in Ontario and Rocky Mountaineer in British Columbia.
- Bus: Taking a coach bus is also a very cheap and effective way to travel within Canada. Greyhound Canada is the most popular coach bus company, which offers cheap bus rides from various locations across Canada. Other popular companies include Coach Canada, Great Canadian Coaches, Ontario Northland , and Can-Am Express.
- Car: There are several rent-a-car companies in Canada that make it easy for visitors to rent a car for a temporary period of time. Some of the best companies include Enterprise, Budget, Avis, Discount, and National. To compare rent-a-car rates, please visit this website.
Step 4: Working in Canada
In order to work in Canada and have access to government programs and benefits, you must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). For more information, please visit this website.
Once you have the right to work in Canada, there are several avenues you can take:
- Canada Fast Track Work Programs: This “fast track” program offers employment for a variety of jobs/fields. The areas of work that the program offers employment for are: Truck Drivers, Welders, Machinists, Boilmakers, Sheet Metal Workers, Glaziers, Pipe Fitters, Mechanics, Plasterers/Drywall Installers, Carpenters/Cabinetmakers, Bricklayers/Stonemasons, and Automotive Mechanics. For more information about this program, please visit this website.
- Canada Priority Residence Program: This program offers temporary and permanent residence for more than 65 programs in both federal and provincial governments. This program offers a variety jobs in the fields of Technical Professions and Engineers, Finance & Investment Professionals, Health Professionals and Technicians, and Marketing and Management Professionals. For more information about this program, please visit this website.
- Job Bank: Job Bank is a Canadian job search engine that helps both students and professionals find jobs all across Canada. The Job Bank website lets you search by location, occupation, education program, wages, outlook, and skills & knowledge. For more information and to search for jobs within Canada, please visit this website.
- Provincial Immigration Job Search: Each province and territory within Canada gives job search information in the immigration section of its websites. Here are the links to each provincial site:
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Northwest Territories
The minimum wage in Canada varies between province and territory, ranging between $9.95-$11.
Step 5: Health
Under the Canada Health Act, all immigrants are eligible for health coverage. Canada’s health care program is divided provincially and territorially, all of which is funded through taxes. You can apply for public health insurance as a Canadian citizen or resident, which means you do not have to pay directly for most healthcare services. You can apply for a health insurance card from your residing province or territory once you arrive. You can apply for a health insurance card at a doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, or immigration-serving organization. The government of Canada website gives you information of each province’s health care system and gives you the steps you need to apply for health insurance as an immigrant.
For more information about private health insurance while in Canada, please visit this website.
Step 6: Money and Bills
The currency used within all of Canada is the Canadian Dollar. There are a variety of forms within the currency: nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), loonie (1 dollar), toonie (2 dollar), five dollar bill, ten dollar bill, twenty dollar bill, fifty dollar bill, and an one hundred dollar bill. The Canadian dollar is a very stable currency currently equaling 0.89 USD. Here are the average costs in Canada:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $13.00
- Can of Coke: $1.85
- Beer: $5.50
- Bottle of Water: $1.64
- 1L of Milk: $2.01
- Loaf of Bread: $2.73
- Average Local Transport: $3.00
- Taxi for 1km: $1.84
- 1L of Gasoline: $1.30
- Ticket at the Cinema: $12.00
- A pair of jeans: $58.97
- A pair of Nike Shoes: $101.29
- 1 bedroom apartment in city centre (per month): $1,066.63
- 1 bedroom apartment outside of centre (per month): $828.03
- Average salary: $48,250
For more practical information about costs and money, please visit this website.
Step 7: Food
Since Canada is a very multicultural country, there is a very diverse range of food everywhere you go. Almost every big city has its own Chinatown, Little Italy, etc. When it comes to national food, Canada has a variety of signature dishes that are particularly “Canadian”. Some of the most popular include maple syrup, poutine (cheese curds, French fries, and gravy), Kraft Dinner, Molson beer, Montreal-style bagels, perogies, Ketchup chips, butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, and California rolls. Salmon and lobster are very popular dishes in Atlantic Canada.
In most well developed areas in Canada, you will find a variety of restaurants, most of which are Canadian or American corporations. Some of the most well known Canadian-owned restaurants include Tim Horton’s, Boston Pizza, Swiss Chalet, Montana’s Cookhouse, Milestones, and Beaver Tails. However, in every city, you will find locally owned restaurants that are both amazing and unique.
For more information about food in Canada, please visit this website.
Step 8: Social
All around the world, Canadians are known as very polite and friendly people. However, the types of people you meet will depend on the region you are in:
- Atlantic Canada: In provinces such as Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick, people are very traditional, yet very welcoming and loving
- Ontario: Since it is a very economic province, people tend to be more business-oriented, yet there are many areas where people are laid back and very easy going
- Prairie Provinces: People tend to be more agriculturally based, but they are very relaxed and live an open lifestyle
- British Columbia: In BC, people live a very relaxed and easy going lifestyle, almost comparable to that of Californians
- Quebec: Quebec has been recognized as its own cultural entity within Canada. People tend to be very independent.
- Northern Territories: People in the North of Canada tend to have strong Aboriginal ties and tend to live in a very traditional way
When it comes to social customs and etiquette, Canadians have their own set of values. When you first meet someone, it is polite to formally shake his or her hand, while making eye contact. For French Canadians, they stick to the very European style of greeting each other with a kiss on each cheek. When invited over to someone’s home, Canadians will always bring a gift, such as a bottle of wine or a dessert. In Canada, table manners are fairly relaxed, but keeping your elbows off the table and waiting to be shown to your seat at a restaurant are common forms of etiquette. When Canadians are friends with each other, they tend to hug upon meeting and they may touch one’s shoulder or arm as a sign of warmth and friendliness. Canadians are very friendly people who like to smile, and are also very keen on thanking people or apologizing for their mistakes. For more information about Canadian customs and etiquette, please visit this website.
Step 9: Sightseeing
Canada is known for its scenic beauty for coast to coast. Here are some of the best sights to see in Canada:
- Niagara Falls, Ontario: Three massive waterfalls that lie between Ontario, Canada, and New York, United States. They are known for their beauty and valuable source of hydroelectricity. The Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.
- The Canadian Rockies, British Columbia and Alberta: If you are a fan of mountains, the Canadian Rockies are a sight to see. As the largest mountain range in Canada, these mountains provide both scenic beauty as well as a beautiful landscape in both BC and Alberta.
- Old Quebec City, Quebec: As a UNESCO Heritage Site, the historical part of Quebec City is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, with gorgeous churches and architecture, as well as stunning views from the waterfront.
- Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick: Located on the Atlantic Coast, the Bay of Fundy is a beautiful gem within Canada, known for having the highest tidal range in the world. It is known for its beautiful cliffs and gorgeous scenery.
- Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia: The Cabot Trail is known as one of the most scenic driving routes in all of Canada, as it borders the water on the side of stunning cliffs, giving gorgeous views of the ocean and the landscape.
- Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia: Located just 43km from Halifax, Peggy’s Cove is one of Canada’s smallest historical towns. The city is famous for Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, which gives stunning views of the coast.
- CN Tower: Located in the heart of Toronto, the CN Tower, when created, was the world’s tallest free standing structure and world’s tallest tower. Although other buildings have taken these titles, the CN is one of the most well constructed towers in the whole world, holding a second place ranking among the World Federation of Towers. You can travel up the tower for stunning views of the Toronto skyline.
- Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia: Open from mid-March to mid-October, the Pacific Rim National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in all of Canada, known for its rugged coasts and exotic rainforests. The park also includes gorgeous sand beaches and scenic trails with waterfalls.
For more information about Canadian tourism and sightseeing, please visit this website.
Step 10: Culture & Language
As mentioned, Canada is a very multi-cultural country. When it comes ethnic make up, the majority of the country comes from British or French backgrounds. However, there is a very large presence of European, Asian, African, and Arab backgrounds. The country of Canada also has a very large history of Aboriginal culture, which is still around today. Currently, Canada is very influenced by a large immigrant population from all over the world. In addition, Canada is very influenced by American culture because of shared language and close proximity. When it comes to religion, the majority of the population is Roman Catholic, followed by Protestant, other Christian, and Muslim. When it comes to reputation, Canada is known for being a leader in finance, human rights, and progressive government policies.
The two official languages of Canada are English and French. The percentage of people whose mother tongue is English is 56.9%, while 23.1% is French. When working in Canada, most jobs require you to be fluent in English. However, when it comes to certain jobs, especially with the government, you may be required to be bilingual. Other popular languages in Canada include Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, Arabic, Cantonese, and Punjabi. In 2011, immigrant languages were the mother tongue of approximately 20% of the population.
When moving to Canada, there are opportunities for immigrants to take language classes to improve their English and/or French. The Government of Canada offers tax-funded language courses at language assessment centres all across the country. If you are moving to Canada and want to learn both English and French, the best places to move to are Quebec and New Brunswick, which are the two main bilingual provinces in Canada. Cities such as Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Moncton, and Fredericton are great places to live if you want to learn to become bilingual.
When it comes to language schools, here are the top ranked in Canada:
- International Language Academy of Canada (Toronto & Vancouver)
- Language Studies International (Toronto & Vancouver)
- Algonquin College (Nepean, Ontario)
- Columbia College (Vancouver, BC)
- Global Village Language Workshop (Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary & Victoria)
- International Language Institute (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
- University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta)
- University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
For more information about culture and language in Canada, please visit this website.