First steps in Ontario - A comprehensive guide

Updated: Mar 29

Welcome to Immigrant Chronicles Series. In this post, I will shortly summarize some of the most important first steps to take a newcomer in Ontario.

Navigate this post:


Understanding Your Status

Rights and responsibilities

Important documents

Bank account

Housing options

Settlement and Employment Agencies

Understanding Your Status


It is important to know your status and what it means for you in Canada. A foreign citizen can hold either a permanent or temporary status. You can become a permanent resident through economic class, family class or protected persons. Temporary status belongs to visitors, foreign workers, and international students. You need to have all the document and your passport with you at the border as well as at governmental agencies as a proof of your status.


Rights and responsibilities


As an Ontario resident, you are protected under The Ontario Human Rights Code. The Code is for everyone. "It is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in areas such as jobs, housing and services. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability and age, to name a few of the 17 grounds. All other Ontario laws must agree with the Code."


Becoming a permanent resident bring a variety of rights including social benefits, living working or studying wherever you want in Canada. As a PR you can apply for Canadian Citizenship after a certain amount of time and collecting certain documents. The difference of PR's from being a Canadian citizen is that PRs can not vote or run for political office, or can not hold certain high clearance required jobs.


Rights come with responsibilities in Canada and such as obeying the law, helping others, taking responsibility for oneself and one's family as well as protecting environment and heritage to name a few.


Important documents to apply for


PR Card


This it the official proof of your PR status in Canada. You must apply for this card through here once your PR application is approved.(check my two other posts here and here on PR if you would like to have more information on this topic.)


Work Permit / Study Permit holders also have official documents as proofs for their temporary residents status in Canada, therefore they are very important documents to take care of as well.



Image: Sample PR card


SIN Social Insurance Number


Social Insurance number in Canada is very similar to Social Security Number (SSN) in the US. This number is necessary to work in Canada, receive benefits and file taxes. There is no fee to apply for SIN. You can apply from SIN online from here.



It is VERY important to remember that SIN is a very sensitive information. In case you lose it can be used part of a fraud so be very careful.

  • Do not use it as an ID.

  • Do not provide this number to anyone, unless you are at a government department or institutions where you earn money (work) and keep your money (bank).

  • Do not give this number to anyone on the phone. If they are asking for it, it is probably a scam.


Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)


Canada has a publicly funded health care system. As an Ontario resident you are entitled to enroll for OHIP. OHIP is Ontario’s health care plan. The province pays for many of the health services you may need through this insurance. You need to apply get an Ontario health card. You’ll need to show your health card every time you see your doctor, visit an emergency room, have a medical test or go for surgery as it is your proof of coverage.


OHIP covers many health services you may need, such as:

  • appointments with your family doctor

  • visits to walk-in clinics and some other health care providers

  • visits to an emergency room

  • medical tests and surgeries