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New Brunswick

New Brunswick

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021

Province of New Brunswick

Official Languages: English and French
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

You will be eligible for health coverage on the day you move to New Brunswick. In order to do this, you will need to prove that your address is in New Brunswick.

  • If you are a student, you can apply for health coverage if you study full time and your program is at least one year long. You will need to submit a proof of enrollment with your health care application. Your proof of enrollment should be a letter written by the Registrar of your university and include your full name, date of birth, and confirmation that you are studying full-time.
  • If you have a work permit, you can apply for health coverage, but it is not guaranteed. These applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, so you will need to go to your nearest Service New Brunswick location to disclose the length of your permit and the nature of your work.

To apply, you will need to fill out the application form and submit documents that prove your right to live in Canada, your address in New Brunswick, and your identity. You will also need to show the entry stamp on your passport. Here is a list of acceptable documents.

You can apply by mail. The address is at the beginning of the application form. You can also apply in person at a Service New Brunswick location.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in New Brunswick is 16. You will need to take a knowledge test in order to get your learner’s permit. Tests are available at Service New Brunswick locations. You do not need to book an appointment. You will need to bring one piece of identification and 2 documents to prove your residency in New Brunswick. Your proof of residency can contain the name of your guardian if you are under 16.

It is recommended that you study the New Brunswick driver’s handbook in order to prepare. You can take a practice test here. Your learner’s permit is called your Class 7i licence. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

The next step is to book a road test. You will need to have your learner’s licence for a year in order to take the test. If you have a driver’s education course, you will only need to wait eight months. When you pass your road test, you will receive your Class 7ii licence. This will allow you to drive alone or with up to three passengers in the car. You must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving and cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

You need to have your Class 7ii licence for a least one year. After a year, you will qualify for a full licence, which is called a Class 5 licence. You do not need to take a test, but it is your responsibility to apply to transfer your licence to a Class 5.

Transferring a driver’s licence: You will have to exchange your foreign licence for a New Brunswick licence within six months of arriving in the province. To exchange your licence, you will need to visit a Service New Brunswick location and take a knowledge test and road test. You will need to bring your driver’s licence, an official translation of the licence if it is not in English or French, proof of identity, and two proofs of address.

If you are from one of the following countries, you will be able to exchange your licence at a Service New Brunswick location.

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • South Korea*
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan**
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

*People from South Korea will need to contact their consulate and have them prepare a package which includes:

  • A cover page
  • An English translation of the licence
  • A copy of the original licence
  • A certified section with the signature of the Consul and the Seal

Bring this package, your original licence, proof of identity, and two proofs of address with you to your appointment.

**People from Taiwan will need to provide the following, along with their original licence, proof of identity, and two proofs of address:

  • An English translation of their licence authenticated by the Taipei Economic and Culture Office in Toronto
  • An original Verification Certificate of Driver’s Licence (VCDL) issued by a Taiwan Vehicle Office that is less than three months old

New Brunswick public school information

New Brunswick is officially bilingual. You will be able to send your child to either a French or an English school. If your child speaks English but you would like them to learn in French, you should register them for a French Immersion program offered by English schools. French immersion is a part of the English school system, and it is intended for children who do not speak French already.

In New Brunswick, it is mandatory for children to start school at age five. Both the English and French school systems follow a Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K–12) program. Some schools only teach K–5 while others teach K–8. Middle school goes from Grade 6 to Grade 8, and high school goes from Grade 9 to Grade 12.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year the are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will be turning six in 2021. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break in March called march break. This is one week long.

You may need to register your child as an international student when you go to enroll them at a public school. To do this, you will need to find the French or English school board in your area and visit their website. There will be a section for international students which has information on ESL and FSL learning. It will also give you information on the documents you’ll need to register your child as well as any applicable fees.

You can visit this website for information on homeschooling.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021
Newfoundland and Labrador
Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Anyone living in Newfoundland for 12 months or more can apply for health care. If you have permanent residency, this is the only document you will need. You might be asked to give proof of identity or address after you have applied.

  • If you are a student, you might be able to apply for health coverage. Your program needs to be at least 12 months long and you need to be a full-time student. Your university needs to provide you with a letter that confirms this. It will also need to confirm that you are studying at a campus in Newfoundland or Labrador.
  • If you have a work permit that is longer than 12 months, you can apply for health coverage. You will need a letter from your employer written before you come to Canada. It must confirm the following:
    • Your job position
    • That the business is in Newfoundland and Labrador
    • That your job is valid for at least 12 months—If you are a part of the Provincial Nominee Program or the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, your position will only need to be for six months.

You can apply by mail or in person at your local Medical Care Plan office. During COVID-19, you will need to mail in your form to one of the following offices:

  • 45 Major’s Path, St. John’s
  • 22 High Street, Grand Falls-Windsor

Driving Information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in Newfoundland and Labrador is 16. The first thing you need to do is take a knowledge test. You can study the province’s Driver’s Handbook and take practice tests here. If you have your Newfoundland and Labrador health card, you can register to take the test online.

If you do not have a health card yet, you can book an appointment at a Motor Registration Division location. You will need to bring proofs of age, identity, and address as well as proof of your right to live in Canada. A list of acceptable documents is available here. People under the age of 19 will need a parent or guardian’s signature.

When you pass the knowledge test, you will receive your Class 5 Level 1 licence. The licence costs $60. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

You need to have your Level 1 licence for at least a year. After a year, you can take a road test to get your Class 5 Level 2 licence. If you have a driver’s education course, then you can take this test after only eight months. The cost of the road test is $78, and the cost of the Class 5 Level 2 licence is $125. With this licence, you must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving, and you cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

Your Level 2 licence is valid for five years, but you can upgrade to a full licence after just one year. Your full licence will cost $125. You do not need to take another road test to upgrade to your full licence.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a foreign licence, you will need to exchange it for a Newfoundland and Labrador licence. You should do this in your first 90 days of living in the province.

You will need to provide an official translation of your licence if it is not in English or French. You will also need to have two proofs of your right to live in Canada and a valid proof of address. You can view a list of appropriate identification here and examples of proof of address here. When you have these documents ready, you can book an appointment at a Motor Registration Division location to take a vision test and a knowledge test. If you pass the knowledge test, you can book a road test.

If you pass your road test, you will be placed in the Graduated Driver’s Licence Program at the appropriate level for your experience. To learn about this program, please refer to the above section of how to get a licence.

If your country has an exchange agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador, you will only need to visit a Motor Registration Division to take an eye test and exchange your licence. The following countries have exchange agreements:

  • Austria
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Isle of Man
  • Ireland
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Newfoundland and Labrador public school information:

Most children begin school at age five, but school is not mandatory until age six. The different levels of education in Newfoundland and Labrador will vary depending on the school. Most elementary schools offer Grades 1 to 6; most middle schools offer Grades 7 to 9, and most high schools offer Grades 10 to 12. Please check with the school in your area to find out which grades are offered.

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another break in April that lasts one week.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021
Province of Prince Edward Island
Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 18

Getting a Health Card

You are eligible for health coverage on the day you arrive in P.E.I. To register, you must be able to prove that you’ll live in P.E.I. for over six months of the year.

  • If you are a student, you can get health coverage if your study permit allows you to work off campus and if you are a full-time student. You will need to submit a letter of enrollment written by the Registrar’s Office. It must contain your full name, date of birth, and confirmation that you are a full-time student. Your health card will need to be renewed each year to ensure you still meet the criteria.
  • If you have a work permit, you can get health coverage as long as your permit is for more than six months. Depending on your application, you may be asked to provide confirmation of employment.

You can apply online or in person at PEI Medicare in Montague, Health PEI in Charlottetown, or an Access PEI centre. You will need to fill out this form and bring proofs of your right to live in P.E.I. and your address. If you apply online, you will need to upload copies of these documents to go with the online form.

Driving information

How to get a licence: The legal age to drive in P.E.I. is 16. To get your learner’s permit, you will need to book a knowledge test at an Access PEI centre. You will need to study the PEI Driver’s Handbook to prepare for it. You can take a practice test here.

You will need to bring proof of your right to live in P.E.I. and two proofs of address with you to the appointment. Examples of proof of address are bills or bank statements, government correspondence, rental or mortgage agreements, or a letter from your employer.

If you are under 16, you will also need to sign the consent form at the end of this document. A list of valid documents can be found here. If you pass your knowledge test, you will be granted your Instruction Driver’s Permit. This will allow you to drive with someone who has their full licence. You will be given a yellow “L” sticker to put on your window, so that other drivers know that you are learning how to drive. You will need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

You need to have your Instruction Driver’s Permit for at least a year before you can take a road test. If you take a driver’s education program, then you can take the test after just nine months. If you do not take driver’s education, you will need to take a Novice Driver Course offered by Access PEI before you book your road test.

If you pass your road test, you will be granted a Class 5 Stage 2 licence. You will be given a yellow “G” sign which you must have on your dashboard when driving. To see the restrictions associated with Stage 2, please refer to the PEI Graduated Driver Licencing program. If you are caught breaking restrictions, you will receive a 30-day suspension. If you are caught a second time, the suspension will be for 90 days. Your licence will be at Stage 2 for one full year. After a year, it will automatically upgrade to a Stage 3 licence. If you are under 18, your licence will not be upgraded until your 18th birthday.

Your licence will be at Stage 3 for a year-long probationary period. You must maintain a zero blood alcohol level when driving, and you cannot use a cellphone while driving. If you receive a fine for either of these things, you will receive a 30-day suspension. If you are caught a second time, the suspension will be for 90 days. After a year, your licence will automatically become a full Class 5 licence.

You can view licence fees here.

How to transfer a driver’s licence: You can use a foreign driver’s licence for up to four months in P.E.I. After this, you will need to exchange it for a P.E.I. licence.

You will need to pass a vision test, knowledge test, and road test. You will need to bring your original photo driver’s licence, immigration documents indicating your right to live in Canada, and two proofs of address. If your licence or documents are not in French or English, you will also need to provide certified translations.

You can take the vision and knowledge tests by booking an appointment at an Access PEI location. You must complete the Novice Driver Course for Newcomers program before you book your road test.

If your country has an exchange agreement with P.E.I., you will not need to take a knowledge test or a road test. Countries with an exchange agreement are:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • France
  • Germany
  • The Isle of Man
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Prince Edward Island public school information

You will be able to send your child to either French or English school. The English school board is called the Public Schools Branch, and the French school board is called La Commission scolaire de langue français. If your child speaks English but you would like them to learn in French, you should register them for a French Immersion program offered by an English school. French immersion is a part of the English school system, and it is for children who do not speak French.

School in P.E.I. is mandatory from the age of five, which means that children must attend Kindergarten. These are the different levels of education in P.E.I:

  • Kindergarten: Age 5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10-12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will turn six in 2021.

The PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada is a good resource for information on how to register your child for school and what language courses are available in your area.

Information on homeschooling is available here.

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part two

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part two

By Dara Poizner

Posted on April 19, 2021
childbirth
Click here to read part one of this article, which discusses healthcare services and prenatal health.

Childbirth

Many expectant parents come up with a birth plan before the child is due to be born. A birth plan is shared with your healthcare providers and describes your preferences for childbirth, including how the newborn will be cared for immediately after. Although not everything can be planned, making decisions in advance can relieve some of the anxiety surrounding a time that many people are nervous about.

In your birth plan, you can write about things like:

  • How you want to manage pain during labour and delivery
  • Who you want to be present during the birth
  • Your thoughts about medical intervention
  • Procedures you would like for the newborn baby

There are also a few options for where to give birth: in a hospital, at home, or in a birthing centre. The option that is best for you will depend on your medical needs and personal preferences, including which type of care provider will be delivering the baby (for example, doctors do not attend home births).

After the baby is born, you will need to register the birth in the province or territory they were born in to get a birth certificate.

Health after pregnancy and childbirth

For both the newborn child and the person who has given birth, there are specific health considerations you should discuss with your care provider. Important aspects of a child’s health include:

  • Infant nutrition. Many people breastfeed their babies, but there are other options if you cannot or do not want to do so.
  • Infant sleep. Newborns sleep most of the time, but for short periods. A baby’s sleep schedule will change with age.
  • Vaccination. Making sure your child is immunized according to schedule is the best way to protect them from several serious illnesses. See “A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination” from the Government of Canada website to learn more.

As a new parent, it is important to look after your own health as well as that of the child’s. Postpartum is the period after giving birth where the body adjusts to not being pregnant and recovers from pregnancy and childbirth. A healthcare provider can give you specific advice for how to care for your body during recovery, including letting you know when it is okay to get back to regular activities like exercise. According to HealthLinkBC, your body will likely feel sore for several days and very tired for several weeks after giving birth. Ways to care for yourself during this time include:

  • Trying to sleep when the baby does
  • Drinking extra fluids if you are breastfeeding
  • Getting support from people who can do chores or bring food for you
  • Getting out of the house for short periods of time

While having a baby can be an exciting and wonderful time, it is also normal to experience difficult emotions. After giving birth, many people deal with postpartum anxiety or depression.

For people who have been affected by pregnancy loss or infant death, there are supports available. This article from HuffPost Canada contains links to resources and provincial organizations that support people through the loss of a pregnancy or infant.

Parental leave

Working people who are pregnant, have just given birth, or are new parents may want to take time off from their jobs. This gives parents time to prepare for or recover from childbirth and spend time with the newborn.

In Canada, people with insurable employment can apply for maternity and parental benefits through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, which gives temporary financial help to unemployed workers.

  • Maternity benefits are available to someone who is pregnant or has recently given birth.
  • Parental benefits are available to parents of newborn or newly adopted children.
  • The person who has given birth may be eligible for both maternity and parental benefits.

Maternity benefits are available for a maximum of 15 weeks: they can start as early as 12 weeks before the birth is expected and end as late as 17 weeks after the actual birth.

There are two types of parental benefits to choose from: standard or extended. There are some differences depending on your circumstances, but generally:

  • With standard benefits, you can receive 55% of your average weekly earnings for up to 35 weeks.
  • With extended benefits, you can receive 33% of your average weekly earnings for up to 61 weeks.

In the past, childcare was considered as mainly a woman’s role, and only new mothers were expected to take time off work. Now, it is common for new fathers to take time off work as well. See this article from Dad Central to learn about the benefits of taking a paternity leave and how to plan for it.
newborn

Resources for newcomers

Best Start—a resource centre for pregnancy, new parenthood, and early childhood—has lots of general information for newcomers. There are resources available in multiple languages about many subjects including breastfeeding, drugs and alcohol, and child development.

The Interim Federal Health Program can provide temporary healthcare coverage for refugees.

The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program funds community programs across the country to help vulnerable people with their pregnancies. The online directory provides a list of available programs, including some specifically for immigrants and newcomers.

A few regional and local resources

In Alberta:

  • Diversity Liaisons Program from Birth & Babies is an online resource by Alberta Health Services. The program provides community outreach and education to newcomers, including multilingual and plain English language resources.

In British Columbia:

In Toronto:

  • Healthy Babies Healthy Children is a program for new parents in Toronto facing challenges, including newcomers Canada.
  • Welcome to Parenting is an online educational program that teaches new parents about important topics and helps them connect with other new parents in Toronto.

There are also benefit programs for low-income households to offset the increased cost of food during pregnancy and/or infancy, including:

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of available resources and programs in Canada.

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part one

A newcomer’s guide to pregnancy and early parenthood in Canada: Part one

By Dara Poizner

Posted on April 19, 2021
pregnant woman
Pregnancy and parenthood can be life-changing for anyone, but there are special considerations for newcomers.If you are new to Canada, you may find that the care and general practices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth are different from your country of origin.

This two-part article provides:

  • Information about healthcare and other services
  • An overview of some health factors relating to pregnancy, childbirth, and the time after
  • Information about taking parental leave from work
  • Links to resources for newcomers

Note that in Canada, you can legally and safely end a pregnancy if you do not want to carry to term. Abortion is publicly funded as a medical procedure under the Canada Health Act; however, access to abortion services may depend on certain factors, including where you live.

Healthcare services

Access to prenatal (during pregnancy/before birth) and postnatal (after birth) medical care is important for the health of the parent and the baby. Make an appointment with a healthcare provider if you plan to get pregnant or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Canada hasa a universal healthcare system with public provincial/territorial insurance plans available for citizens and permanent residents. See this article for general information about Canada’s healthcare system and this article to learn about applying for a health card in Canada.

Types of care providers

There are three main types of care providers for pregnancy and birth: doctors, obstetricians, and midwives. They often work together to care for patients. Depending on your preferences and health needs, you may work with one or more healthcare professionals. This Choosing a Care Provider Directory can help you locate care providers in your province or territory.

Most family doctors are skilled in dealing with reproductive and prenatal health, labour and birth, and postpartum and newborn care. If you have a regular doctor, they can provide primary care during planning and pregnancy and ongoing care for you and the child after the birth. Nurse practitioners sometimes provide prenatal care along with doctors.

Obstetricians (OBs) are medical doctors who specialize in pregnancy and birth. They are trained to manage more complicated or higher-risk pregnancies. They can also perform cesarean sections and emergency surgeries. As with other medical specialists, you need to be referred to an OB by a family doctor. If you do not have a family doctor and would like a referral to an OB, you can visit a doctor at a walk-in clinic.

Registered midwives are health professionals who provide primary care before, during, and after birth. They work with low-risk pregnancies and can perform physical exams, order medical tests, and support normal vaginal births. Regulated midwifery care is part of the healthcare system in most provinces and territories. You can contact a midwife without a referral.

With any type of care provider, you should feel like your needs are being met and that you are able to ask questions.Culturally appropriate care is important in a multicultural society like Canada. Many people seek out professionals who are sensitive to their cultural needs or can communicate with them in their native language if they do not speak English.

Community health centres

If you do not already have a family doctor or government health insurance, there are options including:

  • Purchasing a private insurance plan which can cover parts of the cost of medical services
  • Visiting a public health unit for support if there is one that serves your area
  • Visiting a community health centre

Community health centres (CHCs) are not-for-profit organizations that take a team approach to patient care and provide multiple services based on patient needs. Staff may include doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians, specialists, and other health professionals. Generally, CHCs help people who do not have a family doctor or health insurance, newcomers to Canada, and those who face other barriers (e.g., language, culture, poverty, mental health issues). Many CHCs offer prenatal and parenting healthcare and education.

Community health centres are known by different names across Canada, but each province and territory should have some community health services available. Note: this is not meant to be a complete list of available community health services.

medical team

Other supports

Pregnancy and parenthood are often challenging times. As a pregnant individual or new parent, it is extremely helpful to have a support system in place. Building a support network may be more difficult for those who are new to a country and do not know a lot of people.

This guide for pregnant newcomers from the YMCA suggests finding resources in your community like prenatal exercise classes, new parent education programs, or cultural centres. There are many possible benefits such as learning important skills, maintaining your wellbeing, and meeting people in the area who may share some of your experiences. Some services are available for free or low-cost.

Prenatal health

There are many elements to prenatal health. If you are pregnant, see your healthcare provider(s) regularly to ensure you get the necessary medical care and specific guidance for taking care of yourself and the baby.

Testing

As part of your pregnancy, you will get routine tests, including (but not limited to):

Several factors will determine which tests are recommended for you and which you choose to get. Many people choose to do genetic testing and screening to check for certain conditions. Certain factors can increase the risk of a child being born with a genetic health condition. While the results are not always conclusive, genetic testing can help with planning.

In addition to medical care, having a healthy pregnancy requires you to monitor your lifestyle and general health more carefully. The Sensible Guide to Health Pregnancy from the Government of Canada outlines many lifestyle aspects of pregnancy, summarized below.

Nutrition

Getting all the necessary nutrients before conception and during pregnancy is important for the health of the developing baby and the parent. This involves eating a variety of foods including fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy or dairy alternatives, and meat or other proteins. At certain points in your pregnancy, you will also need extra calories to support the baby’s growth. During pregnancy you must avoid eating foods that may be contaminated by bacteria, such undercooked fish and meat.

For details, see Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendations for healthy eating when pregnant and breastfeeding.

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is necessary for the normal development of a baby’s spine, brain, and skull. Folic acid (called folate when it occurs naturally in foods) reduces the risk of neural tube defects, which occur when the neural tube does not close properly during the early weeks of pregnancy and can lead to stillbirth or disability.

If you plan to get pregnant, you should be taking supplements and including enough folate in your diet beforehand. Talk to your healthcare provider for specific instructions.

Physical activity

Being active is recommended as part of a healthy pregnancy. In addition to the usual benefits of exercise, like improving mood and increasing strength, it can also help with things like appropriate weight gain during pregnancy and speeding up recovery after childbirth.

If you were regularly active before becoming pregnant, continue to exercise and make changes as needed. If you were not, start with low impact activities like walking and slowly increase your activity levels. Do not push yourself too hard.
pregnancy and exercise

Oral health

Oral health can be affected by pregnancy, so it is important to make sure you are caring for your teeth, gums, and mouth. Hormonal changes may increase your risk of developing gum disease, which can negatively affect both you and the baby. Stomach acid left on the teeth can cause decay, so make sure you rinse your mouth right away if you vomit (as many people do from morning sickness). A dental professional can help you maintain good oral health.

Risks of alcohol and tobacco use

It is unsafe to drink any type or amount of alcohol at any point during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause the baby to develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a range of disabilities that can affect people who were exposed to alcohol in the womb. Talk to your healthcare provider and seek community support if you need help to stop drinking.

Exposure to tobacco smoke, whether direct or second-hand, can be very dangerous for the baby. It can lead to many complications before and after birth, such as:

  • Preventing the baby from getting enough oxygen and nutrients
  • Exposing the baby to thousands of chemicals, some of which are associated with cancer
  • Increasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • Increasing the risk of the child developing other health problems that may affect them later in life

The Government of Canada has compiled resources for quitting smoking, organized by province and territory. There are online, telephone, and community resources available.

Mental and emotional health

As always, it is important to look after your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Pregnancy can bring new challenges, as many people experience periods of depression, anxiety, or mood swings caused by hormonal changes. If you have concerns about your mental health, discuss them with your care provider.

Everyday things you can do to tend to your mental and emotional health include:

  • Eating well
  • Getting enough rest and physical activity
  • Avoiding stressful situations whenever possible
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust

Click here to read part two of this article, which covers childbirth, health after pregnancy and birth, and parental leave, and includes links to resources for newcomers.

Shopping 101: Refunds and returns

Shopping 101: Refunds and returns

By Amanda Owusu

Posted on April 19, 2021
buying with credit
Have you ever been shopping and ended up being unhappy with your purchase? If you have, you’re not alone. Many people often find that they are not satisfied with their purchased products for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, in Canada, most stores offer free returns and refunds. Return and refund policies vary from store to store and among products. This article will break down what you need to know about them to make your shopping experiences better.

What is a refund?

A refund is when a customer returns their item for their money back. This is a solution offered to customers when they’re unhappy with their purchase. Typically, when you return a product, the amount you spent on it will be paid back to you through the method of payment that you originally used. Not every seller offers refunds, and not every item qualifies for a refund. Before you make a purchase, it is wise to double-check if the store you’re shopping at and the product you’re buying is eligible for refunds.

Most stores only accept refunds for a limited time, which means you only have a certain amount of time to turn it back in before your item is ineligible for a refund. Typically, this is seven to 30 days. Due to COVID-19, many retailers have extended this time frame to encourage online shopping. It’s best to double-check with the retailer you’re interested in to see what their time frame is.

The general rule is that if you’re bringing an item back to the store, it must be unused or unworn. Typically, you’re not able to return food unless it is non-perishable. This does not apply to products that are defective, or there something is wrong with them.

Types of returns in Canada:

  • Product return with receipt: This is the most common form of returns offered in Canada. Most sellers offer a full refund with a receipt and the item in its original condition.
  • Returns with no receipt: Some stores accept returns without requiring that you show your receipt. However, this is rare.
  • No returns allowed: This means that whatever you purchase from the seller cannot be returned under any circumstances. There are no returns, exchanges, or refunds allowed.

Additional conditions for returning items:

  • Exchanges only: Some stores don’t accept returns for any of their items, but they will allow the buyer to exchange their product for something else of equal value.
  • Specific product refund policies with receipt: Some sellers offer returns but only if you meet certain criteria. Double-check the product and store policy before buying and returning it.
  • Zero returns or exchanges on certain products: Some stores don’t accept returns on certain items. For example, some shops don’t accept returns or exchanges for personal items like undergarments or underwear.

buying flowers

Additional conditions for returning items:

  • Product return time frame: This policy allows buyers to get a full refund if they bring the item back to the store within a set amount of time. This can range from a week to 30 days, and it varies depending on the store and item bought.
  • Restocking fees: Some sellers allow you to return your product but will charge a restocking fee. A typical restocking fee is 15 per cent of the purchase.

How can I do this?

When shopping, ALWAYS keep your receipt. This will be what allows you to make a return and get your money back. Most stores will not accept your item back without a receipt as proof of purchase. You can keep all your receipts in a folder or even take a picture of them to store on your phone. Whatever you do, make sure you always have a receipt readily available.

If you’re making a return in person, you should take your item in its original condition with your receipt to the store. You can go to the customer service section and ask a customer service representative how to go about returning your product. If you used debit or credit to pay, make sure you have the original card, as some retailers will ask for it to process your refund.

If you’re returning an item to an online store, visit their website to get familiar with their return policy. Most websites have a designated section with this information. If you can’t find it, you can also contact a customer service representative through email. Send them an email with your order number and name along with information about what you wish to return. This will usually start the return process.

What do I need to know?

Not every seller offers refunds or exchanges.

Stores might change their refund and return policies; it’s smart to get a copy of their policy at the time of purchase in writing. You can usually find these policies on the backs of receipts or their website.

You should also know that sellers are not legally obligated to offer you a return or refund. That’s why you should try to take all the precautions you can when buying an item. This includes getting a copy of your receipt and asking the right questions.

Some stores charge restocking fees for certain items. Although you’re returning the product to get your money back, you may be expected to pay a fee for this transaction. Sometimes, this fee is more than the item itself. Check with the retailer to see if they charge restocking fees.

Questions you should ask before buying:

  • Do you offer full or partial refunds, exchanges, or store credit?
  • What do I need to bring as proof of purchase? (For example, the receipt, sales tags, original packaging)
  • Are there any extra fees to return an item? (For example, restocking fees)
  • Are there rules about returning seasonal products after a certain period?
  • Can I return personal items, such as jewelry or lingerie?
  • Can I return a product I opened or used?

Source: Ontario Government
checking an item

What are my rights when it comes to this?

Your guaranteed rights for returns and refunds are limited to very specific situations. Legally, sellers are not obligated to offer you a return; however, you still have some consumer rights when it comes to returns. For instance, you have the right to ask for a refund if the business misrepresents its product, or there is a defect with the product.

Where can I go to find out more or if I have a complaint?

You can file a consumer complaint with the provincial and federal governments. You can visit the Canadian government’s website for more information on how you can file a consumer complaint. You can also reach out to the corporate division of the store you were shopping at and write an email to someone in a position of power explaining your poor experience. Sometimes, when none of those options work, people use social media to express their complaints and find success through this medium. Whatever method you use to advocate for yourself, stay persistent and stand up for what you believe in.

Example of a refund policy:

Here is excerpt of Walmart’s Return Policy. You can visit their site to find out more. As you can see, their return policy has special requirements for different types of items. This is an example of why it’s so important to check the policies in place for the product you’re buying at the store you’re shopping at because it might not be the same all the time:

Our return policy is the same for both online and in-store purchases with just a few minor differences:

  • Online purchases: the return time frame begins on the date of your order’s arrival
  • In-store purchases: the return time frame begins on the purchase date. Make sure to bring along your proof of purchase.

Almost anything you buy from Walmart can be returned within 90 days with the exception of a few items below.

Exceptions:
There are a few exceptions you should know about, which are listed below:

Within 14 days
Computers, Tablets, Laptops, Monitors, Printers, Camcorders, Digital Cameras, GPS Units, Wearable tech, Video game consoles & handhelds, Video games, Computer Games, Wireless Prepaid Phones

Within 15 days
Contract post-paid phones. Subject to applicable legislation. Conditions may vary by carrier. See plan terms and conditions.

Coming to Canada as an international student

Coming to Canada as an international student

By Delaney Rombough

Posted on April 19, 2021
international students

Choosing your school

There are different types of post-secondary institutions in Canada. The type of school you attend may depend on your learning and career goals. Different institutions award different degrees and qualifications.

  • Universities: Universities are research-focused and academically rigorous. Canadian university programs range from arts and humanities to professional programs, such as law and medicine. They grant a full range of degrees including bachelor’s (three to four years), master’s (one to two years), and doctorate (PhD) degrees (four to five years), and these degrees are often internationally recognized. Professional programs such as dentistry, teaching, law, and medicine are also offered at university. Some world-renowned schools in Canada include the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia.
  • Colleges: Colleges typically focus on providing an applied, technical education to prepare students for a specific career path, such as graphic design, hospitality management, early childhood education, and police foundations. They also offer other apprenticeship programs and trades training. College is also less expensive than university. Their programs are usually 1-2 years long, and they award diplomas or certificates.
  • Co-op or internship programs: Co-op or internship programs can be found at universities and colleges. These programs have a work component built into their curriculum; this means that you’ll have the opportunity to both work and study. Oftentimes you will have to alternate between class terms and co-op terms depending on your program. This gives you a chance to gain Canadian work experience and build your resume and skills. Co-op programs are often paid, whereas internships are usually not paid; nevertheless, in both cases, you’ll receive course credit.

Getting your study permit

Your study permit will allow you to study at a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. It’s important to note that your study permit is not a visa in that it doesn’t let you enter Canada. Depending on your country of origin, you may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If your study permit is approved, you will automatically receive one.

Before you apply for a study permit, you must have the following documents:

  • Proof of acceptance to a Designated Learning Institution: Include the original or electronic copy of your letter of acceptance from your school in your application. If it is a conditional acceptance, this usually means that you need to enroll in prerequisite courses, such as an ESL course, before beginning your program. In this case, a study permit may only be issued for the duration of the prerequisite course plus one year. Once you are accepted into your main program of study, you have to re-apply to extend your stay in Canada as a student.
  • Proof of identity: You must submit a valid passport or travel document for yourself and any other family members who are coming with you. Student visa applicants also need to include two recent passport-size photos with their name and date of birth written on the back of the photos.
  • Proof of financial support: You also have to prove that you can support yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada. You need to have a minimum of $10 000 excluding tuition costs or $833 per month in addition to tuition costs. You can prove you have the funds needed by showing:
    • Proof of a Canadian bank account in your name
    • A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution
    • Proof of student loan from a bank
    • Bank statements from the last four months
    • A bank draft that can be converted to Canadian dollars
    • Proof that you have paid tuition and housing expenses
    • Proof that your funding will be paid within Canada (for example, a scholarship)

international student reading
If your study permit is approved, you will receive your study permit at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada, or it will be mailed to you if you are already in Canada. If you applied from outside of Canada and you are approved, you will receive the Port of Entry Letter of Introduction (POE), which says that you are permitted to study in Canada. Show this letter to the officers at the port of entry, and they will issue you your study permit. Depending on your country of origin, you will also need to have your eTA or visitor visa to enter Canada. If your study permit is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining why.

Arriving in Canada

Now that you’ve been approved to study in Canada, it’s time to book your flights! Here are some things that might make your arrival in Canada easier.

  • Arriving at the airport: Make sure you have your passport, letter of acceptance, letter of introduction, eTA, any other visa/work permit documents, address of accommodations, and the approximate CAD value of items you brought with you
  • Money and Banking: You can use cash for almost any transaction, though debit and credit cards are more popular. When opening a bank account all you need is two pieces of ID—one with your Canadian address and one photo ID. Canada’s five biggest banks are Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (RBC), and Toronto-Dominion Canada Trust (TD). Most banks offer lower or no-fee student chequing accounts.
  • Cellphones: You can purchase a cellphone plan online, over the phone, or in person at a local store. You can bring your own device and get a new Canadian SIM card or buy a new phone from a service provider. You will need to bring a piece of government-issued photo ID and proof of address when getting your phone.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN): You need a SIN to work in Canada while you study. Getting a SIN is easy. All you need to do is take your study permit and photo ID to the nearest Service Canada office. Some airports including the Toronto Pearson International and Vancouver International airports have Service Canada offices in them, so you can apply for a SIN as soon as you arrive.
  • Health Insurance: Not all provinces offer health coverage to international students, but most schools offer health insurance plans for international students. Check with your school to find out what’s covered by your plan. You can also purchase a health insurance plan from a private company, such as Sun Life, Manulife, and Green Shield Canada.
  • Transportation: It’s important to consider how you will get to and from school and around your city. It is common for students to use public transit. Most cities operate their own public transit system, and there are some transit networks connecting certain cities. Schools usually offer discounted transit passes for students; this is usually included in your school fees. If you do choose to drive, you’ll need to check the driving regulations and licenses at your province, as these are managed provincially. International students can drive in Canada with a valid license. Generally, you can get a Canadian license for a short period of time if you have a valid license from your home country. There are also taxis and ridesharing services that operate in Canada which can help you get around. See this article to learn more about public transportation.
  • Accommodation: It’s best to have your accommodations arranged before you arrive. Most schools have on-campus residences for students, which is a popular choice for first year undergraduate students. You can apply for residence with your school application. Off-campus housing is most popular for those in second year and above. This typically involves renting an apartment or room in a house that isn’t associated with the school. This is generally more expensive but has more room.

Now that you’re in Canada and getting more comfortable with your city and your surroundings, you are ready to start your studies!
international student traveling

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia

By Dana Hall

Posted on April 19, 2021

Nova Scotia

Official Language: English
Age of Majority: 19
Legal Drinking Age: 19

Getting a Health Card

Health coverage in Nova Scotia is offered through the Medical Services Insurance (MSI). To register, you must have an address in Nova Scotia. You must also live in Nova Scotia for at least six months of the year.

  • If you have Permanent Residency, you can apply for health coverage the day you arrive.
  • If you are a student, you will not be able to get MSI until you have lived in Nova Scotia for 12 months. If your visa is longer than 12 months, you can apply at the start of the 13th month.
  • If you have a work permit that is at least 12 months long, you can apply for MSI the day you arrive in Nova Scotia. You cannot be absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 days unless it is for work.

To apply for MSI, you will need to call MSI Registration. If you are in Nova Scotia, call 1-800-563-8880. If you are not in Nova Scotia, call 1-902-496-7008. You will need to have your immigration documents ready when you call.

Driving Information

How to get a licence The legal age to drive in Nova Scotia is 16. The first thing you need to do is to take a knowledge test. You can study for this test using Nova Scotia’s driver’s handbook. You do not need an appointment to book the test, but it is best to call a Registry of Motor Vehicles office near you in order to find out the times at which the tests are given.

You will need to fill out an application form and bring the necessary identification. You can get an application form at any Registry of Motor Vehicles location. After passing your knowledge test, you’ll earn a learner’s licence. This allows you to drive with someone who has a full licence. You will also need to maintain a zero-alcohol level at all times while driving.

The next step is to take a road test. You will need to have your learner’s licence for at least a year in order to take the test. If you have already taken a driver’s education course, you will only need to wait nine months. When you pass your road test, you will become a “Newly Licenced Driver.” This is a specific type of licence that you need to keep for a minimum of two years. People in Nova Scotia often call this a “Cinderella Licence” because it does not allow you to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. To graduate from this licence, you will need to take a six-hour defensive driving course or complete a recognized driver’s training course. If you have already done this for your learner’s licence, you will not need to do it again.

After two years, you can take a second road test. You will need to bring confirmation that you have completed a driver’s course with you. If you pass, you will receive a “Restricted Individual” licence. This means you’ll receive a full licence on the condition that you have a zero-alcohol level whenever you are driving. You cannot teach someone with a learner’s permit how to drive if you are in the Restricted Individual stage of your licence.

After having this licence for two years, these restrictions will go away, and you will be considered a fully qualified driver. You are not required to do anything to lift the restriction. It will simply end once you have had this licence for two years.

Pricing to obtain your licence can be found here.

How to transfer a licence: If you have a licence from another country, you will need to transfer it to a Nova Scotia licence. You should do this in your first 90 days of living in Nova Scotia.

If your country has an exchange agreement with Nova Scotia, you will only need to visit an Access Nova Scotia centre to take an eye test and exchange your license. The following countries have exchange agreements with Nova Scotia:

  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Isle of Man
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

If your country is not on this list, you will need to pass a knowledge test and a road test before exchanging your licence. You can do this whenever you feel ready.

Nova Scotia Public School Information

Children in Nova Scotia can start school as early as age four, but it is not mandatory until age five. These are the different levels of education in Nova Scotia:

  • Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten: Ages 4–5
  • Elementary school (Grades 1–6): Ages 6–11
  • Junior high school (Grades 7–9): Ages 12–14
  • High school (Grades 10–12): Ages 15–17

Your child’s grade is determined by the year they are born. For instance, everyone born in the year 2015 will go into Grade 1 in 2021. That’s because they will be turning six in 2021. The school year starts in early September and goes until the end of June. There is a short break at the end of December that lasts for two to three weeks. This is called winter break. School starts again in January. There is another week-long break in March called march break.

If you would like to homeschool your child, you can visit this website for more information on how to register.

Supporting your child’s early reading habits and fluency

Supporting your child’s early reading habits and fluency

By Maria Montemayor

Posted on April 19, 2021

reading

As their first teachers, parents can help nurture their children’s literacy skills (like their awareness of the sound of language and their vocabulary) from a young age. When kids have an early start in developing literacy skills, they will be able to succeed in school, make good decisions, solve problems, and socialize with others. Through doing activities with your children—like reading, singing, playing, and speaking—you can support and encourage their love of reading and fluency in communicating.

Reading

From the time your children are born, you can start reading aloud to them. Reading to them deepens the bond that you have with them and helps promote healthy brain development. When you read to them, pause and point out the different letters, words, and pictures in the book. Research shows that “reading to children from age four-to-five every day has a significant positive effect on their reading and cognitive skills.” You can also visit your local library to borrow books or register your kids for free reading programs. As they get older, you can support them in borrowing or purchasing picture books, comics, graphic novels, magazines, and audiobooks.
reading

Singing

Another way to support the development of your children’s language and literacy skills is by singing to and along with your child. Singing to your babies decreases the risk of language problems later on in life and introduces them to new words. Even if you don’t sing well, your babies will be pleased with your singing. Rhymes in songs help kids understand patterns in language. Songs strengthen memory skills and help connect children to their cultural identity. A folk song or lullaby can introduce your family to your traditions and heritage. Familiar songs can also bring a sense of comfort and safety to your child.

Playing

Playing makes learning fun for kids. When your kids are young, you can provide them with toys like alphabet blocks and puppets to encourage their literacy. You can also use puppets and stuffed animals to create characters and stories that they can interact with. You can also play rhyming and rhythm games with your children, such as tongue twisters and naming a word that rhymes with an object that you see. You can play these games when you take a walk, when you’re on the train, or when you’re at the mall. As your kids get older, you can introduce them to word games that promote literacy like Scrabble and Bananagrams.

family

Speaking

Last but not least, talk to your children. Share appropriate thoughts and feelings with them. For example, tell them when you feel happy, excited, or hopeful. Point out items in the house and tell them about the things that you are going to do. For example, when you are about to eat, point to and name the utensils and dishes that you’ll use to eat. Ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Ask their opinion on different events, items, information, and experiences. Get your kids to put themselves in other people’s shoes by asking them about other people’s thoughts and feelings. For example, when your husband is cooking, ask your children what they think he’s thinking about. Encourage your child to make predictions on various matters. For example, if you are playing a game, ask them to predict who will win the game, and if you are telling them a story, ask them to tell you what they think will happen next in the story.

Supporting bilingual and multilingual children

If you want your children to be bilingual or multilingual, your spouse could speak in one language while you speak in another whenever you are trying any of the above-mentioned activities with your kids. You can also introduce them to books and TV shows in the target language. You can ask their babysitters or nannies to speak to them primarily in the target language too. Another way you can promote a second language is by enrolling them in language classes. Finally, you can take your children to places where the second language is spoken (like restaurants, places of worship, and cultural centres) for further practice.
mother and child

Susmita Dutta: Creating impact and changing lives

Susmita Dutta: Creating impact and changing lives

By Michelle Boon

Posted on April 19, 2021

Susmita Dutta has an intimidating LinkedIn profile. She is an author, project manager, instructor, and founding partner and CEO of her own company, Global Book Publishing.

Dutta’s warmth and joy for connecting with other people is, however, soon revealed when you talk to her. It is no surprise that she has found success as a newcomer in Canada.

Susmita Duta
Susmita Dutta, Owner of Global Book Publishing
Photo courtesy: Susmita Dutta

First moving from India to the United States, Dutta eventually settled in Canada in April 2019. So far, it seems like a perfect match.

“I love Canada. The people here are so nice,” she said in an interview with The Newcomer. “They’re very much like me.”

When asked if she had a least favourite thing about Canada, she didn’t have a single answer. Instead, she reiterated her most favourite things: the people, the diversity, and the humility of the culture.

Canada was also a perfect match for her business. After a few years of developing Global Book Publishing in the U.S., Dutta kept running into restrictions.

“When you own your own company, you don’t think linear. You have to think in a diverse way,” she said. “You have to try ten different things.” The U.S. market turned out to be too restrictive for Dutta to develop her business through trial and error.

“I had more freedom here [in Canada] based on my status of immigration than in the U.S.,” she said.

Global Book Publishing has skyrocketed since launching in 2014. Taking an educational approach, Dutta’s programs train authors on how to write, edit, and market their work. During her career, she has overseen the publication of hundreds of books. Through Global Book Publishing, Dutta hopes to hit 1000 published books by next year.
girl choosing a book
But success did not happen overnight for this newcomer. Ten years ago, Dutta herself could not have imagined owning a thriving company in a foreign country. For the CEO, her greatest challenge was her own mentality. She said, “The basic problem that I face was my own mindset, and the mindset of being comfortable. If you get comfortable, you will not grow.”

So, on Sept. 8, 2014, she quit her full-time job.

Dutta recalled thinking on Sept. 9, “What did I do? Why did I do that?” She immediately regretted quitting a secure job that she enjoyed but remained firm in her decision.

The business owner had a successful career working in project management at other publishing companies but felt too comfortable. She realized that she would never commit to her business until she had no other choice.

Dutta credits this leap of faith to her early success. “You have to get into the water to start swimming,” she said. Without a steady paycheck, it was like her head was submerged in water, and her survival instincts kicked in. This sink or swim mentality was the push she needed to fully invest in her company.

With years of experience in publishing and project management, Dutta had a strong foundation to build her business. But it was more than her foundation of skills that made her success possible.

Her mindset was her greatest impediment, and her support network helped her overcome it. Dutta expressed gratitude for her parents who “never imposed their society rules on [her].” They never told her to marry early, and they supported all of her decisions, even if they seemed unrealistic.

She also thanks her husband for his unwavering support. He was the one praising her skills and giving her the confidence to strike out on her own. Her husband was also the person who encouraged Dutta to move to Canada for her business in the first place.

Lastly, Dutta mentioned that her mentor, Armand Morin, and her entrepreneur support group helped her navigate Canadian work culture. Being surrounded by other business-minded people taught her that: “You have to tell the world who you are; otherwise, people aren’t going to know,” she said. This is in stark contrast to the culture Dutta grew up with in India, where self-promotion was discouraged.

Through her skill, courage, and the support of her personal network, Dutta has become a successful newcomer. But how does she define success?

“Creating impact and changing lives has been my biggest success,” Dutta said. Dutta’s goal is to help writers achieve their goals of becoming published authors, but also to build fulfilling careers.

Through Global Book Publishing’s programs, many of Dutta’s clients have used their books as tools to build careers as consultants and life coaches.
reading together
As a result of her personal approach, the CEO often wakes up to messages from her clients thanking her for newfound confidence, a new lease on life, or the skills to start businesses of their own. “That is the biggest success for me. I cannot measure it on any scale,” she said.

For Dutta, people are her priority. Canada was both the right market for an immigrant business owner to thrive, and the right place for her to make the most impact on people.

Other than continuing to publish quality books, the business owner hopes to make a social impact on women. With the exception of one staff member, all of her employees are women. This is part of her goal to empower women authors. To foster a company that is for women, by women. Her goal is to impact at least 10 000 women by November 2021 by empowering authors whose books will in turn empower readers.

Dutta’s business is thriving with its home base in Canada, and it’s truly living up to its global name with authors based in Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. The business owner has plans to expand her global reach. She intends to open branches of her company in the United Kingdom, and, in a full-circle moment, her home country, India.

When she’s not supporting other authors, Dutta is an online instructor training entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders. She is also an author herself with books on leadership, emotional intelligence, and oil-free cooking. She recently wrote a children’s book on the power of unity, released on March 28, 2021.

Every newcomer’s path to success will be different. But Dutta, as a successful newcomer, says to concentrate on giving your absolute best, and success will automatically follow.

“It’s OK if you are finding the challenges today. Time flies. Keep doing what you are doing; keep your dreams in mind; keep moving forward.”

To read more about Susmita Dutta or Global Book Publishing, visit her website:
https://globalbookpublishing.com