How do I prepare for my first days as a newcomer in Ontario?

Whether you immigrated with your family, as a student, or to work, there’s a lot to do when settling in a new country!

How do I find housing?

Finding a place to live is everyone’s priority. During your first days, you may need to find a temporary spot. Read our article for information on finding temporary and long-term housing after immigrating. 

Here are some quick tips: 

  • Research: You can visit local rental listing websites, ask family and friends, and just walk around a neighbourhood to look for “For Rent” signs. 
  • Get support: Ontario has several settlement agencies that support newcomers. You can also contact property management companies that connect tenants with landlords, but they may charge a fee.
  • Save up:  Most landlords require first and last month’s rent as a deposit. Ensure you know what your landlord is legally allowed to ask you to pay for
  • Gather documents: Tenants often need to submit rental applications, and if you’re selected, you may be asked for references, proof of employment, etc. You’ll also need to sign a lease
  • Know your rights and responsibilities: Tenants must respect their rental agreement, and landlords must maintain the unit. Knowing how housing is regulated in Ontario is essential so you don’t get into trouble and can advocate for yourself.

Where can I get support?

Once you have a place to stay, it’s a good idea to figure out what local services and online resources are available to help you find a job, register for school, and meet other day-to-day needs. 

Here's where you can go to get support:

  • Settlement services are offered by organizations and agencies that help newcomers with housing, employment, applications, and more. 
  • Community health centres provide free and often culturally sensitive health services.
  • Libraries allow people to borrow books and videos, use the computer and internet, and join newcomer programs.

How do I register for school?

Every child who lives in Ontario is entitled to free public education from kindergarten to grade 12. All children between 6 and 18 years old must attend school. 

Elementary schools provide education for grades 1 to 8. High schools (or secondary schools) provide education for grades 9 to 12. Learn more about how to enroll a child in a public school.

After high school, students can attend a post-secondary institution like college or university. Learn more about colleges and universities.

Post-secondary schools require students to pay tuition, but you can get help paying for school through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Learn more about OSAP.

How do I find work?

To get a job, you’ll need a resume and cover letter. You’ll also need to prepare for an interview, where employers may ask you for your references

Here’s what you can do:

  • Find an Employment Centre. These centres help job seekers find and apply for jobs.
  • Research. Look for job postings on job searching websites, local businesses, and the library.
  • Network. Talk to friends, family members, teachers, counsellors, and anyone you’ve worked with about opportunities and advice.
  • Make a resume. List your education, skills, and experience (including volunteer work).
  • Write a cover letter. Explain why you’re interested in the position and why you’d be a good fit.
  • Prepare for the interview. Make a good impression by reviewing what the job requires you to do and researching common interview questions.

What identification documents (IDs) do I need?

You’ll need different types of IDs to get housing and employment, access public services, travel, and more. Below is a list of common IDs that most Ontario residents should have.

  • Social Insurance Number: Canadian residents need a SIN to work in Canada, access government programs, file taxes, and sign up for a pension. 
  • Driver’s License: A driver’s license not only authorizes you to operate a vehicle, but it’s also a valuable document that proves your legal name, date of birth, address, and signature. You can use it as a form of ID to open a bank account, for domestic travel, to buy alcohol, for immigration applications, and much more. 
  • Ontario Photo Card: Ontarians who do not want to drive a car but need valid identification can apply for an Ontario Photo Card instead. You cannot have an Ontario Photo Card and a Driver’s License at the same time. 
  • Health Card: The province pays for health services through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) for residents living in Ontario for at least 153 days. You need a health card to get a family doctor, visit walk-in clinics, go to the emergency room, and receive medical tests and surgeries. 
  • Student Card: Most high schools, colleges, and universities provide students with a student card that helps them use services on campus, like libraries, recreation facilities, meal plans, etc. You can also use your student card off-campus for discounts at participating stores, public transportation systems, and more. 

Learn more about other types of valid IDs, including student cards.

What are some other daily life tips?

After getting the major tasks out of the way, like finding a home, enrolling in school, and getting a job, do these things to make your day-to-day life easier:

Visit this website for more information about your First Days in Ontario.