Adapting to a New Culture
You as newcomers, may experience many emotions during your first years in Canada. Every individual adapts in his or her own way. However, many newcomers pass through three emotional phases as they adjust to their new life. It is important to understand that these are normal feelings. Phase One: Many newcomers have high hopes and expectations when they first come to Canada. They usually say it is an exciting time of new experiences. They feel confident and able to cope with problems and stresses.
In some cases, they are joining other family members they have not seen for a long time. Phase Two: Newcomers have many good and some difficult experiences during the first six months. They may feel very happy about the challenges they have overcome. However, they may also be disappointed by some things. They may find that it takes a long time to understand the language and customs. They may have trouble finding a job. As a result, they might be frustrated, confused, sad, anxious or depressed. It is normal to have mixed emotions; very positive one day and very negative the next. They may have physical symptoms, such as loss of appetite or trouble sleeping. Phase Three: Most people eventually become more comfortable and confident. They are less frustrated and anxious.
This may take several years for older people, who have strong traditional habits and customs. Others, especially young people, may adjust easily. Sooner or later most newcomers will adapt and begin to feel at home. Here is some advice from immigrants and refugees who have successfully adapted to a new Canadian culture:
• Remember that your negative feelings are only a phase that will pass.
• Keep busy with school, sports or other activities.
• Surround yourself with friends or family members.
• Write or phone your friends or family.
• Seek professional help from a doctor or counselor. Asking for help or a referral to a doctor or counselor may be very helpful. It shows that you are looking after yourself and looking for ways to cope with the situation.
Adapted from A Newcomer’s Introduction to Canada.
Banking, Budgeting and Taxes
Opening Bank Account
You should open a bank account soon after you arrive in Canada. You will need a Social Insurance Number and some other kind of identification such as a passport or your Permanent Resident Card. You may also need something that proves where you live, such as a telephone bill or a driver’s license. There are many different types of bank accounts depending on your needs. Some will let you write cheques. Most will include a bank card. With a bank card, you can withdraw money from an automated teller machine (ATM). An ATM is a bank machine that is open 24 hours a day. You can also use a bank card to buy things at most stores, so that you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash. With many accounts, you can use the Internet to do your banking and pay bills.
It may cost more to get started in Canada than you expected. Although Canadian salaries are relatively high, so are costs. A budget, which is a personal or family plan to manage your money, can help you plan your expenses until your next pay cheque. Careful budgeting will help you avoid borrowing money, which you will have to repay with interest. Preparing a Budget First, determine how much take-home pay you earn. This is the amount of your paycheque after taxes and other deductions. Then look at what you spend. The money you spend will fall into one of three general areas:
Taxes and other items that you must pay; Necessary expenses such as food, shelter, childcare, clothing and transportation; and Luxuries.
How Much Is Your Take-Home Pay?
Your take-home pay is what you earn after you’ve paid such things as:
• Income taxes
• Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Quebec Pension Plan
• Employment Insurance
• Union dues
• Contributions to a retirement or pension plan
• Any other deductions from your monthly paycheque
Most employers are required to make deductions from your pay to cover these items. Depending on how much you earn. If you are self-employed, you are required to set aside about 30 percent of your income in a separate account. You must give this money to the government for taxes, employment insurance and pension contributions. You can find out more about what you have to do if you are self-employed by reading the Guide for Canadian Small Businesses. The important thing is to plan your budget based on your take-home pay, not your pay before taxes and deductions.
The Things You Need
There are certain things, such as food and a place to live, that you can’t do without. These are necessities. The most important of these are:
• A place to live
• Heating and utilities
You can save on necessities by living in inexpensive housing, shopping for food carefully, buying second-hand clothing, or walking, riding a bicycle or taking a bus rather than a car or taxi, but you can’t live without them. You may find at first that necessities take up as much as two-thirds of your budget.
The Things You Want
The things you want, but don’t absolutely need, are known as luxuries. You may not have a lot of money left over for luxuries after you buy all the things you need. Most people can’t afford very many luxuries, and have to make careful choices about how they spend their money. For example, if you must set aside money for education or medical care, there will be less for items such as a car, gifts or long-distance phone calls.
Most employers will deduct federal and provincial taxes from your pay cheque. Each year between January 1. and April 31. every adult (18 years old and over) in Canada must file an income tax return for the previous calendar year. On your income tax return, you list your income, deductions and tax credits. If you paid too much tax, you will get money back. If you did not pay enough, you will have to pay more. For help and information on income tax please contact us using our email on our website.
What is the Canada Child Tax Benefit?
The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. Included with the CCTB is the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), a monthly benefit for low-income families with children. The NCBS is the Government of Canada’s contribution to the National Child Benefit, a joint initiative of federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and First Nations. The CCTB also includes the Child Disability Benefit (CDB), a monthly benefit providing financial assistance for qualified families caring for children with severe and prolonged mental or physical impairments. For more information, please go to the website: (CCTB) or call: 1-800-387-1193 Before sending your application, please go to the website and get all the information you need. Depending on your status, there are various forms that you must send along with the application. From the time of application to the time you begin receiving benefits is at least two or three months on average. If you send an incomplete application, they will send you a letter requesting further information. This will prolong your application processing time significantly.
There are many different types of housing in Kitchener Waterloo area. This section outlines your options. It also explains utilities such as gas, electricity, hydro and telephone. There is also information about different programs that may assist renters who have a low income.
Housing for Newcomers website
Renting a House or Apartment
If you want to rent an apartment or house in Kitchener Waterloo and surrounding ares, look in the Classified section of local newspaper, Record Newspaper. If you search all, you may be looking at rental information for a different city. You will probably have to sign a lease at your new home or apartment. Many landlords in our area, require a one-year lease, which means you must commit to stay in the apartment for a period of one year. Sometimes you can find apartments that have only a monthly lease. This is more flexible in that you only need to provide the landlord with one month notice before leaving. The lease outlines the responsibilities of the renter and landlord. It is very important that you fully understand the lease before signing it. Almost every landlord requires you to pay a security or damage deposit. This is usually equal to one month’s rent, but can never be higher than that. If you fulfill all the terms of the lease, and leave the apartment in the same condition as you found it, the deposit will be returned to you when you vacate the premises. If you have caused damage, not cleaned, or owe the landlord any money, he has the right to keep some or all of the money.
Whether you rent or buy your new home, you will have to pay for utilities such as electricity, water, telephone and cable television. If you rent an apartment, the cost of some of these utilities may be included if your rent. However, they are not usually included if you rent a house.
Power or electricity is available to all properties. It is used for lights, appliances, and in some homes, heating. If you rent an apartment, the cost of your electricity may be included in your rent, or you might be billed separately by the power company. If you buy a house or condominium, the electricity charges will be billed directly to you.
Most landlords will cover the cost of water. If you are renting an apartment, you will not be billed separately for water. However if you own a house, you will receive a bill for the amount of water you use.
To connect a telephone in your home or apartment, you will need to contact the telephone companies. They will ask for a driver’s license or Social Insurance Number. If you are new and do not yet have either of those documents, your Immigration client ID number is an acceptable piece of identification. You may have to pay a deposit until you have a credit rating with the phone company. The phone company keeps the deposit for a short time. Then, if you pay all your phone bills on time, they will return the deposit to you by reducing your monthly bill by the amount of the deposit.