After 1.5 years of planning and preparation, we’re here in Canada and it’s really cold. Coming from a very hot summer in the Philippines, you’ll feel the coldness to your bones and it’s not even negative yet. We have to prepare for winter, it’s all that I can think of at that time.
We arrived on a Saturday night and spent the whole Sunday resting if you can call it that because we were already awake at 4 in the morning. The first thing to do is to get accustomed to the time difference. Jet lag is REAL. We needed at least two weeks to adjust. Tip, try not to sleep (including your baby) during the day and try to sleep early at night. That worked for us, adjusting our sleep and wake up time an hour per day.
With my work starting two weeks from our arrival day, we thought we have time to tour around but it’s really hard and expensive if you don’t have a car. Also, it’s very cold so most of the time we just stayed at home. Good thing my cousin and her family as well as a brother from The Feast Singapore and his family were gracious enough to tour us around and check up and help us from time to time.
The first Monday, we secured our Social Insurance Number (SIN) from a nearby Service Canada. You just have to bring your Certificate of Permanent Residency (COPR) to the office, give them your address, ensure that your name is correct and they will issue your SIN in a printed paper with your details on it (they don’t issue the card anymore). It will only take you at most 30 minutes, because yes, just like in Singapore, they are very efficient.
We also opened a bank account the same day. Most of the Banks in Toronto/Canada have programs for new residents. We were looking at Scotia Bank, TD, RBC and CIBC. All of these banks have almost the same offerings. In the end, we settled with Scotia Bank, because it’s the nearest bank near the subway station. 😀
Bring your COPR, SIN and Passport when applying for a bank account. Having a COPR will make you eligible for an unsecured credit card with a limit of $2000 (each bank may differ). Yes, you need “credit” here to build your credit score. Unless you have an awful lot of cash, you won’t be able to afford most of the necessities here without a decent credit score.
You can also start doing the following:
- Look for work if you have none yet, hopefully it will be easier now that you’ve landed.
- Look for a permanent house and buy a car if you need it (easier if you already have a job)
- Apply for Canada Child Tax Benefit (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/cctb/)
- Apply for OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/ohip/), but you will only be covered after three months of stay in Ontario (other province has different length of stay requirement to be eligible)
- Apply for a Driving License (https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-g-drivers-licence-new-drivers)
- Get a Private Health Insurance (if you want to have coverage while waiting for OHIP)
This is can also be a very good resource for new comers: http://settlement.org/downloads/First_Days_Guide_EN.pdf
So to sum everything up, you need to adjust to the cold weather, jet lag exists, try to stay awake during the day and sleep at night and most importantly, prepare yourself because you have a lot of adjusting, researching and applying to do.
Until next post.