Starting a family in Canada as a newcomer

By: Callum Denault

Published on: June 7th, 2024

Photo Courtesy: Agung Pandit Wiguna (Pexels)

Many newcomers settle in Canada hoping to start a family or provide their already existing family with the many opportunities the country has to offer.

Accessing healthcare, education, and the path to citizenship is essential for any family wanting to give their children a stable future, regardless of where they were born.

Keep reading to learn more about starting and raising a family in Canada and how to access critical resources such as citizenship, healthcare, and education.

Is my child a Canadian citizen?

Any child born on Canadian soil is automatically a citizen, even if neither of their parents has citizenship. The only exception is if a foreign diplomat has a child born here and the child’s other parent is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Canada and the United States are the only G7 countries to offer this birthright citizenship.

Depending on their parents, even people not born in Canadian territory can still be citizens through birthright. As long as at least one of a child’s legal or biological parents has Canadian citizenship, the child will also be granted citizenship. This includes if the child’s parent was born in Canada or if they became naturalized citizens before the child was born.

A birth certificate is required to prove someone was born in Canada or to a Canadian parent. The process depends on which province or territory someone was born in, as each province has different methods for tracking births.

Ontario, for instance, has three types of birth certificates individuals can apply for. This includes a standard birth certificate, a certificate with parental information, and a certified copy of a certificate.

Anyone over the age of 13 can apply, and parents or legal guardians can apply for the certificate of a child in their care. This link includes ways to apply online and gives the addresses of in-person offices in Toronto and Ottawa.

Accessing healthcare in Canada

Access to medical treatment is essential for anyone living in Canada. Canada publicly covers healthcare for its citizens so they can get medical treatment for free or at little cost, and in some cases, non-citizens can get free healthcare, too.

Generally, non-citizens eligible for healthcare coverage include permanent residents, people with a study or work permit, and protected people such as refugees. Unfortunately, uninsured individuals without private or public healthcare coverage may face high treatment costs. Even people with potentially fatal conditions, such as cancer, may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get the treatment they need.

Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia all have a mandatory three-month waiting period before they grant medical coverage to newcomer non-citizens. Asylum seekers and foreign workers who lost their benefits may also be unable to access free healthcare. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 500,000 people in Canada lack medical coverage.

The Canadian government provides advice on accessing healthcare coverage, which can vary depending on the province. The online guideline lists some treatments that are generally not covered by the government. The resource also outlines provincial and territorial ministries of health, enabling newcomers to identify what kind of medical coverage their local government offers.

For example, the government does not cover most dental treatments. Additionally, prescription medications purchased at pharmacies are not covered unless the patient receives government coverage through a specific program.

Patients often must pay out of pocket to get the healthcare they need. This is why it is essential to explore programs and resources that provide support to newcomers requiring medical treatment.

Getting children of newcomers into school

Every child has the right to education, no matter their citizenship status. Canada’s federal government lists various statuses and conditions that must be met for a child to study in Canada. This guideline also details the paperwork they or their caregivers must submit to authorities.

For instance, Canadian citizens merely need to provide a passport, citizenship card, or birth certificate to study in Canada. Permanent residents need a Record of Landing, Confirmation of Permanent Residence, or Permanent Resident Card. Children who are foreign nationals and either arriving alone or with a parent who is not yet a permanent resident or citizen will need a study permit.

Children who are foreign nationals and arriving either alone or with a parent who is not yet a permanent resident/citizen of Canada will need a study permit. This includes foreign national children arriving with a parent who is entering Canada with a work or study permit of their own. Additionally, the government needs proof that anyone under 17 will be cared for in Canada. This can be a legal guardian/parent arriving with them or a custodian who can look after them in Canada.

Those interested in pursuing studies in Canada should be aware of the country’s recent cap on international students. Canada also requires students to have Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs). Make sure to explore the new conditions and policies related to international students to ensure you can achieve your dreams or your child’s dream of studying in Canada.

Overall, Canada is a great place to start a family or embark on a new, exciting chapter with your existing family. With this guide, you can ensure you and your family have access to all the necessary resources to help make Canada feel like home.

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