Settlement Information for Newcomers

Settlement Information For Newcomers

Settling in BC: Questions and Answers

Immigrants have many questions about living, studying, and working in BC.

The NewToBC team has collected 100s of questions that are often asked by new immigrants before or after they arrive in BC. To answer these questions, the team researched and found the most up-to-date and credible sources of information. Look through the lists of categories and questions for information about immigration, employment, education, health, housing, banking, the BC legal system, and transportation. Use the search function to find answers to your questions.

Many newcomers have shared with the NewToBC team that they wished they had known about this resource sooner!

Employment

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Finding a Job

You need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. Finding a job in Canada may be different from finding a job in your home country. You may face challenges at the beginning to get a job that matches your qualifications and interests. It may take time to build your qualifications and gain Canadian experience before finding the job you really want. However, there are several resources that can help you understand what to do to find a job.

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You can find information about job opportunities using government and non-government job search websites, industry-specific job boards, classified sections of national and local newspapers, and social media (e.g. LinkedIn). You can also research companies where you want to work and check their websites for job postings. You can attend a job fair – a place where employers and people looking for jobs meet and discuss jobs. You can ask family members and friends if they know about available jobs. Some jobs are not advertised and you may learn about them by asking people.

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There are different employment services available to help you look for a job, plan your career, or start your own business. They include self-service tools and resources, workshops and one-on-one counselling on various topics, sometimes in a variety of languages, depending on the geographic location. You should contact your local settlement agency or WorkBC Services Centre to find out what is available in your community. You may also choose to hire an employment agency or recruiter. However, in British Columbia, you are not required to hire employment agency or recruiter to find a job.

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To apply for a job in British Columbia, you will need to send a résumé (also known as curriculum vitae or CV) and cover letter to the employer. The employer may also ask you to complete an application form, or to see your portfolio or a sample of your work. Job postings usually have instructions about how to submit your documents – by email, fax, mail or online – and the deadline to apply for the job.

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Your résumé and cover letter are an employer’s first impression of you. A résumé is a list of your qualifications and work experience. A cover letter is a short description of what makes you a strong candidate for that job. Everything matters, including spelling and formatting. Based on your résumé and cover letter, the employer will decide whether to invite you for a job interview. It’s a good idea to have someone look over your résumé and cover letter before you apply. Many settlement agencies can help you with this.

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The job interview is very important part of the job search process. The employer will decide if you have the skills and attitude they are looking for and if you will work well with other employees. It’s also a chance for you to find out if the organization is a place you would like to work. It’s a good idea to practice your interview techniques before you go to an interview. Depending on the job, you might also have to prepare some work to bring to the interview or be ready to demonstrate a skill.

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You may be asked to provide the names of references that a potential employer can contact to find out more about you. References are people who can talk about your work experience, work habits, character and skills. It is a good idea to choose people who can speak favourably about you and your work. This will improve your chances of getting the job.

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Professions and Trades

In Canada, there are two types of occupations – regulated and unregulated. Regulated occupations are also called professions, skilled trades or apprenticeable trades. If you want to work in a regulated occupation and use a regulated title, you must have a licence or a certificate or be registered with the regulatory body for your occupation in the province or territory where you plan to work. About 20% of Canadian jobs are in regulated occupations. Each regulated occupation sets its own requirements for obtaining a licence or a certificate, usually through the provincial or territorial regulatory body or professional association. These jobs are regulated to protect public health and safety and to ensure that professionals meet the required standards of practice and competence.

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Over 200 occupations are regulated in British Columbia. Some fields where regulated occupations are commonly found include health care, financial services, law and legal services, and engineering. If you want to work in one of these professions, you will need to be certified and registered for the occupation. Each regulated occupation has different standards, and each one has a regulatory authority to establish and uphold these standards. The regulatory authorities will assess your qualifications for certification and registration. This is called the Foreign Qualifications Recognition (FQR) assessment process.

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Over 100 skilled and apprenticeable trades are regulated in British Columbia, including Red Seal trades. Red Seal trades are specific trades that some provinces and territories have jointly agreed on specific standards. In these trades, you may work in multiple provinces or territories without having to write examinations or get further certification. The Industry Training Authority (ITA) is responsible for leading and coordinating the skilled trades training and credentialing system for the province. ITA sets program standards, maintains credential records, and issues Interprovincial Red Seal and British Columbia Certificate or Qualifications credentials.

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A non-regulated (unregulated) occupation is one you can work in without a licence, certificate or registration. Most jobs in Canada are in non-regulated or unregulated occupations. Some occupations allow you to register with a professional body or association on a voluntary basis. Requirements will vary between employers, so you will need to be prepared to show that you have the education, skills and experience to do the job. Employers may also be interested in the Canadian equivalency to your international educational credentials or qualification, but it is up to the employer to decide whether the qualifications you have earned outside Canada are equivalent to the Canadian qualifications needed for the job.

It will depend on your occupation and the country where you obtained your qualifications. If you want to work in a regulated occupation, you will need to become certified and registered for the occupation. Each regulated occupation has different standards, and each one has a regulatory authority to establish and uphold these standards. If you want to work in a non-regulated occupation, it will be up to the employer to decide whether or not your qualifications will be recognized.

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International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) evaluates the credentials of people who have studied in other provinces or countries and determines comparable levels in British Columbian and Canadian terms. The results of an ICES assessment are provided in evaluation reports that are objective, consistent and reliable. Many new immigrants have their credentials evaluated to determine equivalencies in Canada. There is a fee associated with this service.

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Business and Self-Employment

There are three main options for starting a business in British Columbia: build a new business from ground up, buy an existing business or start a franchise. If you decide to build up a new business, you will have to come up with an idea and business plan, marketing strategies for your product(s) and/or service(s), and establish your clientele and credit. You should also consider different business structures – Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, and Incorporation – each have different implications for liability and taxation. If you decide to buy an existing business, you will have some advantages, such as an established clientele and existing business method. However, you will have to figure out why the business is for sale and what it is really worth. If you decide to start a franchise, it combines the freedom of running an independent business with the advantages of working for a large business. There are many rules about starting a business. Businesses must be registered and, in some cases, licensed by the government. You may contact “Small Business BC” which is a key resource centre with comprehensive small business information and services to help you start your business.

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There are different funding options available for people interested in starting a business in British Columbia. It’s a good idea to fund at least 25-50% of your business from your personal savings. It shows investors that you’re willing to assume risk to achieve success and it will be easier to raise funds from other sources. There are some grants available to help those starting a new business, as well as options for commercial or government loans.

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There are many government funded self-employment programs that offer free services, loans and other financial support for people to start their small business. “Small Business BC” offers various workshops and seminars for small business owners to learn skills and knowledge about marketing, accounting, sales, etc. You may also consider connecting with the BC Chamber of Commerce which is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in British Columbia. The BC Chamber of Commerce and local Chambers of Commerce or Boards of Trade provide their members with various resources, workshops and networking opportunities to expand business networks and boost business opportunities.

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Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need in order to work in Canada or have access to government programs and benefits. Children aged 12 years and older may apply for their own SIN. Parents and legal guardians can also apply for a SIN for children under the age of majority in their province. Each SIN is issued to one person only. It cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are responsible for protecting your SIN, so it is important that you keep it in a safe place.

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You will need to visit a Service Canada Centre to apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN). You will need to show certain documents, depending on your status in Canada. If you are a Permanent Resident (PR), you will have to show your PR card, confirmation of PR and Visa counterfoil in your foreign passport, or confirmation of PR and Visa counterfoil on Single Journey Document for Resettlement to Canada. If the name on your primary document is different from the name you currently use, you will also need to show one supporting document. All documents must be written in English or French or be accompanied by an official translation attested to by the translator before a notary public, or prepared by an officer of a foreign government or an official of the British or Canadian Consulate.

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Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a confidential number, so you should only provide it when it is legally required. Only some government departments and programs are allowed to collect and use your SIN. However, there is no law that stops organizations from asking for it. Store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe place. Do not keep it with you and never use it as a piece of identification.

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Worker Rights and Responsibilities

Most occupations in British Columbia are covered under the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia. The Employment Standards Act of British Columbia sets out a minimum standard for employment and workplace safety that employers and employees must follow. These standards include wages, overtime, breaks, vacation leave, wage deductions and more.

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Some occupations in British Columbia are covered under the Canadian Labour Code and not the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia, such the federal government, bank and airline employees. The Canadian Labour Code sets out a minimum standard for employment and workplace safety that employers and employees must follow. These standards include wages, overtime, breaks, vacation leave, wage deductions and more.

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WorkSafeBC is a public agency that promotes workplace health and safety for workers and employers in British Columbia. WorkSafeBC also provides injured workers with compensation, medical benefits and help returning to work safely after their injury.

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Employment Insurance (EI) is a program run by the Government of Canada. It provides temporary income support to residents who are looking for work or cannot work. There are different types of benefits. Regular benefits are for people who lose their job through no fault of their own. Special benefits are for people who are sick, injured, pregnant, caring for a newborn or adopted child, or caring for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death. The requirements depend on where you live and what kind of benefits you apply for.

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Volunteering

Volunteering is an important part of Canadian life. Many Canadians volunteer for non-profit organizations, charities or other organizations. Volunteering is an excellent way to gain Canadian experience, practical knowledge of the Canadian workplace, and references. It is also a great way to meet new people, develop new skills, and learn about issues that affect your community.

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You can find information about volunteer opportunities on different websites. You can also contact your local settlement agency and they will be able to help you. Most municipal governments also have well-developed systems and resources to help you volunteer in the community. Visit the website of your municipality for more information.

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It is important for you to know what you are committing to when you volunteer. You can ask the volunteer centre or organization that you are interested in volunteering with what they expect and what they can offer you.

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