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REAL TALK: Cost of Living and Job Hunting in Canada


What is the real situation of Immigrants especially for Newcomers and Nominees in Canada today? There are different ways and programs to come here but let us focus to Immigrants who come as Provincial Nominees (PN). PNProgram is the common way to migrate here in Canada. In this program, Nominees have to bring $10,000.00 plus $2,000 each dependent settlement funds. In addition, they must have Sponsor that promised to support them in order to settle in Canada. Now, do you think those funds are enough? Let us do some math.


Basic Needs for a Family with two kids age 4 & 7 (approximately in Prairie areas)

2br Apartment (water, hydro, parking included) – $900

Food, Groceries, Clothing, Household Needs – $800/month

Laundry – $100/month

Transportation – Bus ticket – $90

Car (considering they get a car loan) – SUV $500/month

Gas and Parking – $150

Car Insurance – $150/month

Life Insurance – $300 (4 members)

RESP (University fund for kids) – $200

2 Mobile Phones – $100

Wifi (Internet Connection is already a necessity) – $70

Miscellaneous like sending money in the Philippines (our culture) – $300

Savings (better to save than never) – $50

A total of $3710.00/month for a family of four (expenses varies depends on the needs of the family). Of course, you may find some deals on sites like and the like, but this can vary.


In looking for a job, related to your field back home here in Canada is never easy. Canada doesn’t recognize any regulated professions from other countries e.g. Nurses, Engineers, Doctors etc. But in their system of recruiting, those professionals are highly qualified to migrate. Now, how will these Immigrants find jobs?

In my observation nowadays, there are two choices of Immediate Jobs for Newcomers: Survival Jobs and Entry Level Jobs.

There are LOTS of Survival Jobs here, meaning you get the minimum wage. How much? In Manitoba, the minimum wage is $11/hr. If you work full time which is 40hrs a week then let’s say less 30% for tax, insurance etc (depends on the company), you might bring on the table approximately $1300 a month. Now do the maths from the above basic need expenses.

That is why there are some who has two or three jobs.

If you haven’t studied any programs/courses yet in Canada, Entry Level Jobs are for those NEWCOMERS with EXTENSIVE and RELATED job background back to their country of origin. These jobs are above minimum wage and require on-site training. These jobs are very rare for Newcomers but very common for those who already invested in studying here.

Question? As a newcomer, what must I do if I can’t do any survival jobs and No one accepts me to any Entry Level Jobs?

Although Canada was not vocal about this, but the system here for Immigrants recommends to go back to school or get some short courses/programs. But how much?

In-demand courses and tuition fees

Health Care Aide Programs – Approximately 26 Weeks and $3000 tuition fees

Administrative Assistant – Approximately 17 weeks and $7000 tuition fees

Welding – Approximately 7 months and $5000 tuition fees

(Based on one of the Universities in Prairie Areas)

After you finished the course, it is guaranteed that you will have an ENTRY LEVEL JOBS but not a guarantee that a company will hire you. It still depends on how you will sell yourself because competitions are everywhere. A recommendation from someone is one way to know available jobs. It doesn’t mean “Pinas Palakasan System.” It means ‘I know someone who is good and can do the job.’ That’s why the ones recommended still needs to pass some sort of tests or undergo job recruiting processes of the company.

Question: What if I don’t want to study anymore? Is it ok to have those survival jobs only?

In my opinion, it depends on your lifestyle. But I don’t know if it’s okay for Canadian Gov’t because they don’t want any Immigrants especially Nominees to be a burden. How will they know? If the Nominee qualifies and registers to any social assistance programs it means the Canadian gov’t is already supporting them. They can easily track them because remember on your PR card, PV2 means you are under The Nominee Program. And those in survival jobs are most likely qualified for assistance programs.


Canada is a beautiful country. The Canadian government recruits Immigrants to boom their economy. When they feel that there is a high rate of Immigrants in welfare, they will somehow find a way to get back with it. Remember those fee changes on Citizenship act? Let us not hope that they will increase the tax rate in the future.

For nominees, I think what the government is expected for us to do before we avail to any social assistance programs (there are lots actually!) are:

  1. Spend your Settlement Funds First.
  2. If no more funds, ask your Sponsor for support. They sign the settlement of support anyways. (These are other stories to tell.)
  3. If these two are no longer available, that’s the time it is okay in conscience to avail social assistance benefits for a while but not too long.

But how long the adjustments will last? Some say 2-4years, other says ‘I’ve been here for 10 years but still surviving’. So it really depends upon your perception, there are different kind of stories to tell.

My advice coming here: Pray hard and be prepared. One thing that Canada somehow took away from Immigrants is their PRIDE. Be optimistic, stay with your family and friends to strengthen each other.

Actually, this is the real situation of Immigrants/Nominees/Newcomers nowadays. Do you think something went wrong with the Immigration Recruiting System? Any thoughts?


About Tita Zali

Writer, Self Publisher, Healthcare Worker, A wife and a mother of 2 boys, Architect and Educator by Profession

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