WELCOME TO BRITISH COLUMBIA
Welcome to Canada & The Province of British Columbia!
Fantastic guide of what to expect coming to Canada. Very useful with easy to navigate links.Housing, money, taxes, schooling, health care, Canada law, and many more topics are covered here in detail.
This website will answer a lot of questions you may have.
Bringing Pets to Canada
The following information can help guide you if you will be bringing a beloved pet to Canada.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. See here for more information.
Driver’s Licence Information
See here for driver’s licence information per province, insurance information, driving laws, and winter driving safety information.
The five largest banks in Canada are:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
- Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
- Bank of Montreal (BMO)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
Sales Tax per Province
Like many countries, Canada adds sales taxes (named GST, PST, and HST) to many of the goods and services you buy. Prices generally do not include these taxes – they are added when you pay. If there is an exception to this, it will be clearly stated. Each province has a slight variation on sales tax that is collected. See here link for further understanding of GST, PST, and HST.
British Columbia: Sales Tax is 12%. (5% GST & 7% PST)
In Canada, we are required to file our own personal income taxes every year, generally by April 30. You can do this on your own, or with the help of agencies, but it is a personal responsibility to have it completed and submitted to the government at the appropriate time of year.
For more information see here.
One of the most well known agencies in Canada for tax preparation services is H&R Block.
Canada Post Corporation, or simply known as Canada Post, is a Crown corporation which functions as the primary postal operator in Canada.
British Columbia Kindergarten to Secondary Schools
British Columbia Post Secondary Education
From public universities, colleges and private career colleges, explore institutions here.
British Columbia Gas & Electricity Services
BC Hydro and FortisBC are the two largest utilities providing services to B.C. residents, and are regulated by the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).
Learn more here.
Understand the types of home heating in Canada here.
Mobile Phone Services
Approximately 90% of Canadian mobile phone users subscribe to one of the three largest national telecommunication companies (Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, and Telus Mobility) or one of their subsidiary brands. These three mobile networks own and operate transmission facilities that cover most of the country, though they sometimes share each other's networks in certain geographical regions in order to reduce costs and reach more customers.
More detailed information per region can be found here.
Internet, Phone, and Television
This is a government website called Service Providers Near Me that provides detailed information per location across Canada for Internet, Phone, and Television Services.
Grocery Stores & Supermarkets
Leading supermarket chains across Canada are Walmart, Costco, Loblaws, Sobeys and their partner stores. These generally offer the biggest cost savings on groceries and bulk items. Many other medium and small chain grocery stores operate across Canada and include Save on Foods and IGA.
Rural communities will generally have one or two grocery stores and will not have the supercentres such as Walmart. See here for more details
You will find in Canada that you have to shop around to get better deals on groceries. Each store will put out a weekly flyer that shows that week’s deals and reductions. Most people use these to do their shopping, as the price difference can be worth waiting for items to go on sale. As Canadian homes have more storage and larger refrigerators and freezers, people often buy in bulk when items are reduced.
Something to keep in mind is that Canada is a very large country with a considerably low population for its size. For this reason, you may notice that shipping costs can be higher, and costs of goods can be higher, particularity imported goods. This comes into play with online shopping as well. If you purchase from Canadian retailers, generally prices are competitive within the market. This means websites ending in (ca.) So for instance amazon.ca is where you want to purchase from, and not amazon.com. This is the American amazon, will be in US dollars, and you will pay higher shipping costs + duty charges at the border. Buying online from Canadian based online retailers, or American retailers that cater to Canadian shoppers is often your best bet.
Canadian retailers for furniture are plenty, and access to them can be based on where you live. Some of the bigger ones are The Brick, Leon's Furniture, Sleep Country, Ashley’s Furniture, Ikea Canada, Costco, Walmart, and Wayfair (online).
Major Electronic Retailers
Best Buy tends to be to go-to place for electronics shopping, but other retailers such as Walmart can be competitive as well but may not have as much selection. The Source is another national electronic store.Online shopping is a great option as well if you know what you are looking for..
National News & Newspapers
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that serves as the national public broadcaster for both radio and television.
Every region has their own local news outlets as well. You will get to know these in your community.
Leading newspapers are The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star and many other local and regional newspapers. The following link gives you all options for newspapers.
Leading Car Brands & Companies in Canada
There are factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle in Canada. Where do you live? City or rural? Winter snowfall is a major factor in most of Canada and should be taken into account when deciding on a vehicle. Most places in Canada require you to have summer tires for summer driving, and winter tires for winter driving.
Another factor is car brand. If purchasing an exclusive car make or a luxury car, expect wait times for parts and repairs to be longer and costlier than most.
This is a great resource for buying used vehicles and getting to know brands.
Renting a Home
One of the biggest differences in the rental market in Canada compared to the UK, for example, is that rental properties generally do not come furnished. It should be assumed to be non-furnished unless specified in the advertisement. Canada has much less of a transient population, therefore it is not a common way to rent homes here. Places where you will see furnished rental properties tend to be in the major cities, and usually in executive level properties, or student type housing.
Buying a Home
Home sizes are generally larger and more spacious than European homes. Houses tend to have more bathrooms here and walk-in wardrobes and ensuites are common features of the master bedroom. Heating is mostly centralised in homes. Older homes may have baseboard heating, but newer homes will have forced air, which allows for heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer. These are important factors in home purchasing. Below are helpful links for home buying, heating types, and a few of the well known real estate agencies such as Remax, Century 21, and Royal Lepage to give you a glimpse into the market.
Getting to Know Your Community
Canadians are generally friendly and helpful people. It is common for people to say hi when passing in the street, even in cities. Common courtesy often prevails when letting people on and off public transit, holding a door open for the person behind, and offering directions and help.
It can be daunting to be new in a community. Do not hesitate to join local groups, sports teams, community centres, places of worship, schools and universities. People will be welcoming and genuinely interested in making your experience the best it can be.
We here at Physicians for You wish you all the best in your new adventure here in Canada! Know that we are here to help you and to answer any questions you may have; now or in the future.