Thanksgiving Day

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2017
Thanksgiving occurs in October in Canada, and is traditionally a time to give thanks, after the crops have been harvested.
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ven in this year of COVID-19 in Ontario, we find reasons to be thankful. For many families, this year of retreat and semi-isolation has meant a chance to rflect of life, get to know our families a bit better, and perhaps do some of the things around the home that have been on the to-do list for months or even years. Thanksgiving occurs in October in Canada, and is traditionally a time to give thanks, after the crops have been harvested. Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Upper Canada Immigration will be closed for business from 5:00 p.m. Friday October 9 until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday October 13, 2020.

Our cool Ontario spring yielded to a hot and dry summer that has stretched a few extra weeks into October. The tropical plants in our yard remained outside at least three weeks longer than most years. The early autumn rains bring moisture in  warm, wet, showers to keep the garden mostly green at a time when the leaves are going golden most years. Warm wishes to friends and clients of Upper Canada Immigration, and stay safe, wherever you are.

Toronto Star Ad

Our Ontario newspaper display ad

Our display ad in Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper, the Toronto Star, ran for the first time on Sunday August 16, 2020.
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uring the Canadian COVID-19 period, newspapers everywhere found their advertising base drying up. It wasn’t hard to figure out. The advertisers were squeezed by their revenue hit during the virus. Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV saw their own revenues shrink as advertisers cut back on expenses to look for buyers where were largely staying home.

Here in the Greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada’s largest province by both population and economy, our largest newspaper chose to spotlight businesses like ours: small businesses owned and operated by people of colour or persons of indigenous origin by offering selected businesses an opportunity to run a display ad in The Star, for many of them their first print ad in Canada’s largest newspaper.

So, we applied and were chosen as one of The Star’s participants. And here is the final product! Click the ad to see a full-size rendering.

Much of our business development activity consists of a virtual outreach using social media. We have our own direct mail list. Folks use it to tell us something about themselves, as a preliminary to asking us if we can help them. And a day after the ad ran, lo and behold, the phone rang. That was nice, and I hope we can help the individuals who started by saying, “I saw your ad in the paper.”

Maybe you are reading this, and thinking you need help with your own citizenship and immigration issue.

For individuals

Permanent residency: Is immigration a bigger challenge during the COVID-19 time? You bet it is! But it can be done, and we’ve landed folks in Canada to begin a new life during the COVID-19 months;

Business class: Did you know that Canada is the only country in the world that has free trade agreements with every large economy on earth? If Canada’s access to the world, sound economy, low tax rates, fair and honest business systems could help you serve clients from Canada, maybe we are a fit to help you come to Canada and make your fortune;

Spousal and family sponsorships: Once you are relocated to Canada, how do you get your spouse here? Your children? Your parents and maybe your grandparents? We have done it for clients many times. We know how to do it for you;

Caregivers: Families in Canada need caregivers to look after their kids, parents and grandparents, and family members with disabilities. Good families, and proud Canadians often originate from a caregiver who came to Canada to help other Canadians;

Temporary work permits: Foreign nationals, students and others without status in Canada often need skilled help and advice in gaining landed immigrant status to stay in Canada and build their lives;

Student Permits

New approval process: study travel to Canada

Upper Canada Immigration works with students and their families.
Students can work with us to obtain permission to travel to Canada to begin, or continue, their study programs. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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tudents planning to start school in Canada in the fall semester can now breathe a sigh of relief. Immigration, Refugees and Citizen Canada (IRCC) has announced implementation of  a two-tiered approach to issuing study permits: you can get approval now contingent on supplying documentation and other necessary papers later. COVID-19 measures have been in place in Canada since March 18, 2020 and in most source countries in the world.

  • Visa Access Centres have been closed, borders have been shut down and  obtaining  official documents have become almost impossible;
  • Students who may have obtained a study permit prior to March 18 were/are exempt from the imposed travel restriction placed on Canada’s borders.

Nonetheless, such students, upon arrival at a port of entry are still subject to an examination by the CBSA, and can be refused entry, if it is found that they could have been studying on-line instead.

To resume their programs and restore revenue generation mechanisms, educational institutions have developed on-line studies  as part of their offering to students, both local and abroad. Recognizing the difficulties experienced by international students on obtaining key documents and evidence for their applications in their respective countries, IRCC has  issued new, albeit temporary, instructions and procedures for Visa Officers in processing study permit applications.

The two-step process

  1. Students will now receive a first stage approval so that they can start studying their courses on-line, from their country of residence. The advantage of doing this is that the student does not lose time;
  2. When first stage approval students are able to produce mandatory documents such as submitting their original passport or travel document, enrolling in the biometrics program or undergoing a medical examination, their study permit will be finalized. The student still needs to produce these documents. However, you will receive extra time to gather and produce them.

Once the Canadian border is open for non-essential travel, students will travel to their Canadian destination to continue their studies. If you are such a student who wishes to take this opportunity to start your studies in the Fall of 2020, contact us now. We have until September 15 to apply for your study permit. See the Help in three steps box on this page. Upper Canada Immigration will help you prepare a successful package of documents. The minimum set of document you need to have in hand for stage one or pre-approval includes:

  1. Letter of Acceptance;
  2. Proof of funds for the first year of studies;
  3. Rationale for your choice of program (background or training)
  4. Study plan;
  5. Demonstration of your ties to your country of residence/citizenship;
  6. Evidence of any ties to Canada.

This is a highly-competitive process. The best applications will be successful. You may do this once in your life. We do it for our clients on a continuing basis. You will likely need help from us. See the Government of Canada web site for more information on the temporary measures for processing student permits.

Careful re-opening

Summer Update: Canada and COVID-19

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anadian borders Are soon open to some travelers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Since March 16, Canada’s borders have been closed to all but deemed-essential travelers in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Such “essential services”, are individuals who, by definition of their occupation, provide services that both countries have come to rely on, are exempted from the ban. These include diplomats and  airline crew members. As well, the European Union has included Canada (but not the USA) in its recently-announced ‘bubble’ of countries whose inbound and outbound flights can connect with the EU.

  • Since April 18, 2020, the U.S. – Canada border has been, and remains, closed;
  • The U.S. has suspended all immigration to the United States, with many essential details missing or vague.

Encouraging progress in Canada

Canada’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus have been encouraging. After containing the rapid spread of the virus in seniors residences and long-term care facilities, Canadian provinces have seen their cases – and deaths – fall rapidly. The Canada-wide effort to shut the country down and ask Canadians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus worked, though summer cases remain stubbornly stuck at various levels from Quebec to B.C..

  • Canada’s three northern territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) have not recorded a case of COVID-19 in more than a month. None of the three have had an active case of COVID-19 for weeks. Nunavut territory has never had a case of COVID-19, and remains one of the few places in the world virus-free;
  • Atlantic Canada opened as a ‘regional bubble’ in July. As of the end of June, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador had all achieved and sustained zero active cases for more than two weeks. Summer travel has brought several cases to PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but a new spread does not seem to be happening. As the four Atlantic provinces re-open for travel among themselves without a two-week quarantine in July, and as whatever remains of the tourist season progresses, isolated cases remain possible;
  • The rate of new cases and deaths in Ontario and Quebec has fallen sharply since May. Neither province is yet close to zero active cases. The daily count of new cases has stabilized in both provinces. In Ontario, the majority of cases remain in the Toronto area, Peel Region west of Toronto, and Windsor-Essex, near the U.S. border;
  • Manitoba is close to zero in its active cases. Saskatchewan and Alberta are each stable, but remain stuck, in reducing their active cases. British Columbia has been very successful in bringing the infection rate, and the number of active cases, down steadily. B.C. and Yukon will open up a regional ‘bubble’ in the coming weeks.

Check the Globe and Mail web site for up-to-date graphs and case numbers in Canada and the provinces and territories.

Public, sporting, business, conference and entertainment events all remain cancelled. Canadians can start to attend gatherings of many type, including church services, at reduced capacity with a strong recommendation to wear masks. Many retail establishments require shoppers, clients and patrons to use hand sanitizers and wear masks as they re-open, or remain open. Masks are now mandatory throughout Quebec outside the home environment.

What does this mean to me?

All travelers, including Canadians returning from abroad, must self-isolate for at least 14 days once back in Canada. As the European Union re-opens, its defined safe ‘bubble’ now include such countries as Canada which have shown discipline and success in containing and reducing the virus.

If you are working with us on applying for any type of visa or sponsorship,  we will continue to work on your case without interruption. If you have been granted a TRV (visitor visa) you will not be able to come to Canada as a visitor until the ban has been lifted.

If you have been granted a permanent residence visa and have not booked your ticket to “land” in Canada, please delay your arrival in Canada to  a time when you know things are back to normal. There are only four international airports open for international flights: Pearson International in Toronto; Pierre Elliot Trudeau International in Montreal; Vancouver International and Calgary International. The line-ups and testing upon arrival will be long and rigorous. As noted above, every international traveler, Canadian or not, must self-quarantine for at least two weeks.

Who cannot board Canada-bound flights

Canada’s Ministry of Transportation issued an Interim Order on who can and cannot board flights bound for Canada. The rules clarify how to deal with significant risk, direct or indirect to aviation safety or to the safety of the public:

  • Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents may not board an airline flight to come to Canada. This includes stateless persons;
  • Every air carrier must conduct, at the boarding gate, a health check of every person prior to their boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada;
  • Air carriers may not allow persons to board if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in their answers to questions, or in the air carrier’s observation. Passengers will be refused permission to board Canada-bound aircraft if they say they have COVID-19, or if they refuse to answer questions.

When COVID-19 ends

In Canada, there is caused for hope that the difficult COVID-19 pandemic will end. Canada is on track to look for as many as one million new immigrants to the country in the next three years. We continue to work from home, and use WhatsApp, Zoom and other technology to meet virtually with clients. If you’re thinking about Canada, get the process started early. Now is the time! Some of our clients have already got their coveted Invitation to Apply during the COVID-19 period.

If you’re serious about coming to Canada, tell us about yourself by filling out this secure form. Let’s see if there is a viable pathway for you to continue life in Canada.

Vanishing population

Competing for the globe’s top people

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ews articles in Canada in the past year have focused on the immigration challenge facing western democracies. Populism and nativism, amplified in volume well beyond the number of their advocates by strident social media and flat-out cyber manipulation by totalitarian nations (who, ironically are among the world’s most xenophobic) make dispassionate and rational discussions of the clear benefits of immigration to a country like Canada more difficult for the necessity of trying to speak clearly and calmly amid the noise of hysteria.

We are all, rightly, most concerned about our own situation, and whether we can succeed. Here is a view of the broader immigration landscape.

In Canada, the nation’s self-proclaimed ‘national newspaper,’ the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, published an excerpt of a book by Globe columnist John Ibbitson. His book, co-authored with Canadian Pollster Darrell Bricker (Ipsos Public Affairs) is called Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline.

As authors, the two Canadians are walking ground opened up by the late Swedish statistician Hans Rosling (1948 – 2017) in the YouTube video of his lecture on global population growth. It is a superb one-hour production. Click below to see it.

2020 Update: Rosling was right

Nothing Ibbitson and Bricker’s book, or Rosling’s video, have to say is all that startling, fact by immutable fact. It is the assembling of the larger picture, and projecting it over the entire globe, and the complete 21st century, that make all the data so eye-opening. In 2007, the number of people, worldwide, living in cities surpassed the number in rural or remote areas. Cities are indisputably the 21st century’s engines of growth and repositories of people and knowledge.

The Globe’s Ibbitson published a July 2020 update here. Ibbitson lists some countries that stand to lose more than half their population by the end of the century. The BBC News web site has an article about the implications of a shrinking population, and why global population shifts may be encouraging news for prospective newcomers to Canada.

  • Nations that have not pursued forward-thinking immigration programs already see their populations in decline. Examples include Japan, Russia, and countries in eastern Europe;
  • As populations of youth and people in their prime working years decline or stagnate, proportions of seniors in nearly all western nations are rising sharply. Some 90 percent of health care expenses are spent on the old and the chronically ill. This leaves taxpayer-borne expenses such as health care and pensions to be paid by fewer and fewer working age people;
  • China, which discourages inbound immigration, will see its own population level off shortly, and begin a long decline;
  • Urbanization leads to better education for women, with families starting their child-bearing years later, and having fewer children. The birth date falls below the rate of replacement (depending on who calculates it, between 2.2 and 2.7 babies per woman of child-bearing years);
  • The very policies that welcome newcomers run into opposition in older societies, where a graying older generation can’t – or won’t – connect the dots between a healthy level of immigration, and the people they themselves will need to build their homes, manage their communities, and become their doctors, for example.

Most demographic studies put the world’s population peak at between eight and 11 billion, sometime in the middle of this century, then beginning a steady decline. Canada, with its decades of careful, but generous, immigration numbers remains younger than the average nation. Canada has the ability to keep growing without the looming brick wall of worker shortages facing other nations (such as Japan and even the USA).

Canada’s 36 million people will grow to some 50 million by mid-century, roughly the end of the lives of North America’s ‘baby boom’ generation born after World War II, between 1946 and 1966. Come and work with us. Each year, some 350,000 people will move from the land of their birth to start a new life in Canada. Competition for each of those spots is tight, and the requirements mean you need to have a plan, act on it, and not make mistakes. Contact us. We can help.

Hong Kong

A reputable path to Canada

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re you feeling afraid and insecure about your future in Hong Kong? Like very many Canadians, I am deeply and profoundly disturbed by the insecurity now so prevalent in Hong Kong. My spouse and I have vacationed in Hong Kong, and love its energy, vibrancy and friendly, hard-working people. Maybe you are among those looking to explore an immigration pathway to Canada. At Upper Canada Immigration Consultants, we may be able to help you to chart a course to a new life in a safe, democratic and welcoming country. Take a deep breath and don’t panic.

Perhaps you have friends and relatives in Canada. Now is the time to get in touch with them, and start learning about possibilities for you to re-start your career. We can discuss how your friends and family can help you to network and get started on your job search and make plans. We are careful who we take on as clients. If your wish is to leave Hong Kong’s anxiety and uncertainty behind you and immigrate to Canada, we may be able to help you. Talk with us, and if you are a good candidate to come to Canada, we will assist you with your immigration matter, help you identify your best opportunity, and pursue your best options to come to Canada. We are located in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto.

Upper Canada Immigration Consulting is not a free service. As a firm of professional and regulated consultants, we charge for our services. Click or tap here for more information about us on this web site.

Who are good candidates?

Here are some common immigration scenarios. This list is not exhaustive, so your personal situation may differ. Self-assess your situation by considering these common scenarios:

  • Are you a citizen or a permanent resident of Canada with a family member who is not? (Spouse or children)?
  • Are you a young professional under the age of 30 with postsecondary education, three years of work experience, good English Language skills and  settlement funds?
  • Are you a skilled professional who once studied or worked in Canada?
  • Are you a current business owner who has a great business idea, postsecondary education, funds to invest in Canada and fair to good English Language skills?
  • Do you have postsecondary education, English language skills, funds to invest and currently hold a senior managerial position in a private business or a government department?
  • If you have no connection to Canada, and you have two (or more) post-secondary certificates (or diplomas or academic degrees), and you have sufficient settlement funds, and your English language skills are good, and you have three or more experience of skilled work experience, you might be a strong candidate to come to Canada. Talk with us;
  • Are you married to a Canadian resident or a citizen but you have not yet applied for permanent residence?
  • Do you have at least one year of living in a common-law relationship with your partner where one of you is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident?

Canada has long been recognized as a country that welcomes immigrants, and enables them to settle, integrate and succeed. Canada has an enormous, and well-established community of former Hong Kongers in every major city and town. During these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, where some countries have slashed their immigration quotas, Canada has not altered its goal to bring in the brightest and the best, reunite family members, invite entrepreneurs who excel in what they do, and welcome young, ambitious, educated and progressive thinking individuals.

Canada’s immigration department is on track to fulfill its goal of bringing in 341,000 permanent residents during 2020. In 2021, Canada expects to welcome 351,000 permanent new residents. In 2022, Canada plans to “land” 361,000 new Canadians. There are scores of programs and initiatives throughout Canada’s provinces and territories in addition to the federally-run programs.

If you don’t have the BNO passport

The United Kingdom, as of July 1, 2020, announced it would extend an offer to nearly three million eligible Hong Kongers the British National Overseas (BNO) passport, which may enable the holders of those passports to emigrate to the UK. If you have such a passport, you will gain a path to get to the UK and eventually qualify for UK citizenship. If you don’t have such an option, don’t despair. You may yet qualify to come to Canada permanently. See the examples above, and contact us.

Resources on this web site

We have assembled a comprehensive and organized collection of information on this web site. Take some time to explore it. We are reputable and effective. Our fees are fair and reasonable. We expect our clients to work as hard on their immigration and settlement application as we do. We don’t take every person who asks us to perform work for them. We expect you to keep your account active by paying your fees promptly, and we account for how we use your money.

Help us work with you by completing these on-line forms:

  1. Tell us who you are and where you live;
  2. Tell us about your issue or your needs;
  3. Leave a message if necessary. Remember, there is a 12-hour time zone difference between Hong Kong and Ontario in Canada.

You can call us by telephone or WhatsApp at 647-988-3846. If you reach us after hours we’ll call you back. In the meantime, get your essential documents together.

The real deal

ICCRC consultants are the genuine article

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mmigration Consultants like me handle issues that change people’s lives. Helping people qualify to come to Canada, and settle here, is a service that is complex, difficult, takes continuous ongoing training on my part, and takes time. That makes it, by definition, expensive. My clients may do this process once in their lives. For most of them, our fees represent an amount of money they don’t hand out daily. We do this work all the time, do it well, and do it correctly.

Andrea Seepersaud’s qualifications

  • Member: Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) #R515545;
  • Member: Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) #R19147;
  • License: Foreign Worker Recruiter and Immigration Services Act, Province of Saskatchewan #00581;
  • Commissioner: Affidavits and Oaths, Province of Ontario.

Sometimes, people ask if dealing with a licensed Canadian Immigration Consultant brings with it any form of success ‘guarantee.’ I answer that occasional question on this web site. Click or touch here. There are only about 4,600 licensed Canadian Immigration Consultants, as of the end of 2019. I am one of them. At Upper Canada Immigration Consultants, we stick to the law, treat our clients fairly, and deliver value for money to serious people.

Click or touch here for more information and FAQs about Upper Canada Immigration and Andrea Seepersaud.

Invitation to Apply

Your ITA starts a crucial clock ticking

Invitation to apply
The coveted Invitation to Apply (ITA) expires within 90 days. If you get an ITA, you need to get moving on it right away.
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he coveted Invitation to Apply, or ITA, is a sought-after opportunity to come to Canada. All applicants want one. Fewer than one in four of all profiles in the Express Entry pool receive an ITA. Once you have an ITA, you have a use-it-or-lose-it  opportunity.

Immigration consultants have two big advantages over the do-it-yourself approach: A good consultant does this work frequently, and is fast and accurate, with a system for tracking what you need to make good your ITA on time and with precision. Not being you, the consultant isn’t as emotional or under the stress about the ITA as you are. That makes things go more quickly.

If you have received an Invitation to Apply, you need to take the next two months of your life very seriously. This is one of life’s use-it-or-lose-it opportunities. Click here for some vital information on turning your precious ITA into your opportunity to settle in Canada.

Avoid foreseeable mistakes

There are common mistakes people frequently make, realizing only too late that procrastination or taking the wrong advice may have either doomed their application, or left them no further ahead, but many thousands of Canadian dollars poorer. We have summarized some of the common mistakes on this page.

IRB phone fraud

Beware the IRB phone call fraud

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he fraudulent caller says that if you don’t pay up, somebody will show up at your home and arrest you. Relax. It is fraud. The criminal is the caller, who is committing a federal offense. In April 2019, the Toronto Star reported on a telephone scam aimed at newcomers to Canada living in Canada. The article quoted an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) warning about telephone calls in which the caller claims to be a representative of the IRB. The person called is told (incorrectly) that he or she is under investigation, and owes money, typically $1,000. The caller’s phone number is ‘spoofed‘ to look as if the call is coming from a body such as the Immigration and Refugee Board, or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

In 2018, we alerted our web site viewers to another fraud: the so-called ‘Canadian immigration lottery.’  There is no such program. Click to read our post.

We are collecting the common immigration-related scams on a dedicated page on our web site. Click here to read it.

If you know of a type of fraud that we have not described here, do the following:

  • Report the fraud attempt to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501;
  • Advise us too. We will use any information that we can verify to assist folks trying to enter Canada legally.

Payments

Use of cash continues to decline

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anadians continue to increase their use of credit and debit cards to make both large and small payments, according to a 2019 study by the Bank of Canada. In the past ten years, cash transactions of all kinds have declined from more than half of all payments to just more than a third of all transactions.

The Bank of Canada is Canada’s central bank, and sole issuer of Canadian bank notes, The Bank of Canada surveys Canadians every four years to find out how the nation pays for things.

The declining use of cash is not unique to Canada. Other countries worldwide are also seeing a rise in the use of electronic means of making payments large and small. Cash, however, remains easy to use. Cash is seen as secure, and cash is nearly universally accepted in Canada. For small-value purchases like a cup of coffee or a snack, cash is a popular payment method. In general, worldwide, the lower the value of the transaction, the more likely the buyer and seller will exchange value with cash.

Implications for immigrants to Canada

Cash, however, comes with some serious drawbacks. Using cash doesn’t build your credit rating, which you absolutely need to borrow money, qualify for a mortgage, or get a credit card. While cash itself is secure in that Canadians recognize the look and feel of Canadian currency, which is very difficult to counterfeit, carrying large amounts of cash has always been risky. Cash is not a good way for an employer to pay wages, or for an employee to be paid for work. Employers need to deduct income taxes; Canada Pension Plan contributions; health care premiums and other essentials ‘at source,’ which means you pay them as you go, rather than trying to find money you may have spent when you file your income taxes in Canada each spring.

Workers paid in cash may find out the hard way that they have no record if they need to claim workers’ compensation for a work-related injury.

Many of our clients prefer to pay us in cash. That’s fine. We accept cash. There is no advantage or drawback to you in paying us in cash. We also accept an e-transfer or a cheque.

Tips for good Canadian money management

In your country of origin:

  • Have a bank account. Use it, and deposit your cash in your bank account;
  • Build your credit history by showing that you can responsibly use a credit card, and pay the balance in full each month, or that you can manage a debit card;
  • You’ll need to show you have liquid assets (securities or cash) to come to Canada. Set up a savings account, separate from your chequing account, where you can save money.

Once you land in Canada:

  • Move your banking to Canada. Open a bank account with one of the major Canadian banks. Your employer should directly deposit your wages in your main chequing account;
  • Open a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), and use this registered account to save and invest your money tax-free. You can withdraw and re-contribute the money you have in this account as your circumstances change over the years;
  • Open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), and make annual contributions of whatever you can. This account accumulates income tax-free until you use the funds, ideally after you have retired. Plan never to use this money during your working career;
  • Get and use either (or both of) a debit and a credit card for your purchases. You gain an expense record of what you spend money on, which helps you set and manage a personal budget;
  • Pay your income taxes every year. Filing your income tax return automatically makes you eligible for a wide variety of federal and provincial supports and programs.

Retain and file your financial records. Pay regular attention to how you and your household use money. Canadians generate a formidable trail of payments for the things you must purchase (rent or mortgage; utilities; taxes; transportation; food; clothing and so on) and the discretionary things you spend money on (entertainment, eating out, gifts; etc.). Financial success in a country like Canada is a matter of both increasing your income during your working career, and understanding and managing how you spend money. Keep score, have a plan, you’ll know whether you are winning or losing in the game of life in Canada.