♪ Oh Canada! ♪ Finally, here I am in the city known as Winterpeg. As a newcomer to this city, I would just like to share my experiences in the past couple of years. I noticed that most of the newcomers I have crossed paths with earlier on were not aware of the various programs they can benefit from when starting out here.
The government of Canada, provincial government of Manitoba and the local government of Winnipeg have several programs for immigrants in order to help them successfully settle in the country. They offer opportunities for newcomers which are mostly free of charge that are too good to pass up on. These programs below are the ones I know of and are most likely still be available to the public.
- Strong Start Program – StrongStart is a full-time, six-week training program that gives new immigrants age 18 to 30 the employability and life skills needed to get a good job. The program also covers computer skills and workplace communication and culture, and includes a two-week workplace placement.
As added bonus, the program gives you a monetary allowance based on the minimum wage rates without tax. Most important requirement would be the age requirement as you should be 18-30 years old. Not everyone qualifies for this program because of this age requirement. This is a great opportunity to earn when you are a newcomer as you will be receiving a set allowance two months. They teach you, you learn, and you’re basically earning money!
As of the moment, Batches 5 and 6 are participating in the program. If you are interested, visit the Manitoba Start Office on Portage Ave. to register.
- Work Start Program – This program was introduced as a new pilot youth program for the 2013 – 2014 year by Manitoba Start. It provides participants with 12 weeks or 3 months of practical, hands-on work experience in a high-demand occupation related to their educational background and work experience.
This is a better program because of the longer duration and work experience. Under this program, you will be earning Canadian work experience and minimum wage for 3 months. Since it is an actual job, you will be paying taxes on your earnings but you will definitely gain more work experience in a Canadian workplace. Just like the Strong Start Program, this is just open to 18-30 years old.
I would think that there is a similar program for 31 years old and above but I am just not sure what it is at the moment. I promise to find our after 5 years. *wink*
- Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Credit– The GST/HST credit is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low or modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay.
This credit depends on your income. As for me, I get CAD40 every quarter of the year. In a year, that is a total of CAD160 which is still a huge help. Apply here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca
- Rent Assist Program – Rent Assist is a financial benefit for low-income private renters, and people who receive Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) and have housing costs to cover. This program aims to help people move successfully into training and jobs. Eligible Manitobans who are renting or paying room and board in unsubsidized housing can receive up to $270 per month.
After a month of living with relatives, my wife and I decided to move out and find our own place. We didn’t have jobs that time so we were able to receive CAD268.60 per month from this assistance. For anyone interested, here’s the link to apply: http://www.gov.mb.ca/
- Christmas Cheer Board – The Christmas Cheer Board assists newcomers by packing up hampers with essential products and goods inside.
We arrived in Canada just in time for Christmas. Every year, the board hands out the hampers in time for the holidays. It’s easy to get a hamper, you just call them and they let you know when you can pick it up. The contents depend on how big the household is. The more family members you have, you get more items in your hamper. Newcomers can basicaly take advantage of this for 3 years. I’ll try to get a hamper again this year. (lol)
Check out their website to know more: http://www.christmascheerboard.ca/
- Winnipeg Harvest 1 – Winnipeg Harvest is a not-for-profit, community-based organization providing food and training to people who are struggling. They aim to share surplus food with people who can benefit more from them.
I wasn’t able to benefit from this program so I won’t be able to share more about this. All I know is that this is a free program for the public. The down side to this is the 1-2 hours wait time since a lot of people really take advantage of this. They give away milk and bread but you have to make sure to consume them as soon as you can before they expire. Anyone can fall in line and get food every 2 weeks.
Visit http://winnipegharvest.org/ to learn more.
- Winnipeg Harvest 2 – Winnipeg Harvest conducts a training center where they offer various training programs. The training programs include both classroom theory and hands-on training for community members who seek to improve their chances in their careers. The programs are open to everyone who meets the criteria.
Based from my experience, their training programs are free of charge and are very informative. I actually participated in one, I learned Web Design within 6 weeks. Others require volunteer work. To know more about their training programs, visit: http://winnipegharvest.org/
- Facebook Groups – Since everyone is already are into Social Media, it helps to get more information from experiences of others. Join our official FB group: #PinoyCanada Tambayan
- Sports Activities – It’s really hard to get a chance to sweat out in this cold weather but you just need to. Even though you’re not into sports, try to join sports. I’m personally not good in basketball, I enjoy playing golf more, chos! Best benefit from joining sports activities is really widening your network. Each team member can potentially help you land a job. Just start asking around.
- Singles for Christ – Singles for Christ (SFC) is the singles ministry of Couples for Christ (CFC) for unmarried men and women ranging in from 20-40 years old. I wasn’t able to join this because I was already married. Couple of friends I know are part of this and they were able to find work through referrals from their co-members. If you’re single, you can try to join but I don’t have experience on this so I can’t really recommend this.
- Discounts/Deals – Go online and you can easily find services or items on sale. Try visiting the ads section on Pinoy-Canada blog (https://pinoy-canada.com/ads) to see Pinoy made, offered by Pinoys and from other Pinoy
- Kwentong OFW – Read stories of other Pinoys in Canada. Most of them are really inspiring and informative. Just go online and you will get to see a lot of stories.
The Canadian Government are really generous and there is a lot of benefits newcomers can take advantage of for free. The ones listed above are the ones I know of so I really hope these information can help. Oh and there’s another one!
- Child Benefits – The Child Benefit program provides financial assistance for children which aims to help ensure that parents will be able to support their children. I can’t share anything more about this since I don’t have kids yet.
Maybe next year, PROMISE!