Follow this step-by-step guide to settlement in Alberta to ease your transition into your new life in Canada.
You will find contact information for each service agency that you will require to get started, whether you are moving to the city of Calgary, the city of Edmonton or the surrounding areas.
Learn more about life in Alberta.
In this Landing Guide to Alberta you'll find information on:
- General Information
- Health Care
- Finding Work
- How to obtain a driver's licence
- What can I bring to Canada?
- Additional Service Providers
- Emergency Services
- Directory of Immigrant-Serving Agencies
General Information on Alberta
Official provincial immigration website: www.albertacanada.com/opportunity/immigrating
Official city of Calgary website: www.calgary.ca
Official City of Edmonton website: www.edmonton.ca
Health Care in Alberta
Legal residents of Alberta are eligible for public health insurance. To qualify, register with Alberta health care within three months of arrival.
- For complete information on public health services in Alberta, visit www.health.gov.ab.ca
- For complete information on the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP), visit the AHCIP Contact page: www.health.alberta.ca/contact
- For questions regarding Alberta's health care system, email email@example.com
- For Alberta Waitlist Registry inquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For information on the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, call 310-0000 toll free, then dial 780-427-1432.
- You can also send a letter to: Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, P.O. Box 1360, Station Main, Edmonton, AB T5J 2N3
The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) provides 24-hour information, support, and referral services relating to gambling, alcohol or other drug problems. Visit: www.albertahealthservices.ca or phone: 1-866-332-2322.
Employment in Alberta
In order to work legally in Alberta, you must apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN), a 9-digit registration number that all employees legally require to work anywhere in Canada.
For information on how to apply and obtain a SIN: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
You can also go to the Canadian Alberta Service Center (CASC) and apply for your SIN number in writing. To find a CASC near your new home, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline: 780-422-4266 (in Edmonton), 1-800-661-3753 (elsewhere)
You can also call Service Canada at 1-800-0-CANADA (1-800-622-6232) to obtain information on how to get your SIN number.
Next, have your credentials assessed and qualified for Canadian standards. The Alberta Advanced Education's International Qualifications Assessment Service is the best place to begin. Otherwise, The Canadian Centre for International Credentials will be able to provide you with their services: www.cicic.ca
If you are a tradesperson, you must be certified to practice your trade in Alberta. For trade certification, begin by contacting Red Seal, a nation-wide trade certification organization at: www.red-seal.ca
Where required, register with the appropriate provincial regulatory organization for your profession. You should be able to find them in your local phonebook.
Finding Work in Alberta
The Alberta Career Information Hotline can help you get started in your job search. Call 780-422-4266 in Edmonton and 1-800-661-3753 elsewhere.
The Alberta Human Resources and Employment service centres are located throughout the province and will aid you in your search for work. Look at their website to locate a service center near you: www.humanservices.alberta.ca. Be sure to obtain a copy of their free publication, Working in Alberta: A Guide for Internationally Trained and Educated Immigrants, that provides tips and job postings. You can request a copy from the Alberta Learning Information Service: www.alis.gov.ab.ca
To improve your employability, you should be fluent in either English or French. It can be helpful to register for language classes to improve English or French language skills. The Alberta Learning Information Service will provide you with details of where you can register for English or French as a second language courses: www.alis.gov.ab.ca. The ALIS can also provide you with essential additional training and education in your field.
In the Lethbridge or Brooks areas, the Southern Alberta Language Assessment Services (SALAS) can be of assistance in assessing your language abilities and recommending to you services or courses which will most cater to your needs: www.salasltd.ca
Tip: You can gain Canadian work experience by volunteering! The ALIS can provide you with volunteering opportunities in your area.
Finances in Alberta
As soon as you arrive, it is important to open an account at a local bank or financial institution. The province suggests using the Alberta Treasury branch: www.atb.com. Other popular banks in Alberta include HSBC, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). You can find contact information for these banks by searching on the internet, or simply walk into a local branch and ask for information.
For general information on banking and financial matters in Alberta and the rest of Canada, visit the Canadian Bankers Association website at www.cba.ca.
Canadian Money is made of cents and dollars. There are 100 cents in 1 Canadian dollar. Currency is found in coins of 1 cent ($0.01) called the “penny”, which are no longer used in commercial transactions, 5 cents ($0.05) called the ‘nickel’, 10 cents ($0.10) called the ‘dime’ , 25 cents ($0.25) called the ‘quarter’, 1 dollar ($1.00) called the ‘Loonie’ for the Canadian loon featured on the coin, and a two dollar ($2.00) coin called the “Twoonie” as it is the equivalent of two Loonie's. Bills, or paper currency, are found in denominations of five dollars ($5.00), ten dollars ($10.00), twenty dollars ($20.00), fifty dollars ($50.00) and one hundred dollars ($100.00).
To find out what your home currency is worth against Canadian currency, talk to a representative from a local bank, or visit this popular currency exchange website: www.xe.com
The most used forms of transactions are made with cash currency, cheques, debit banking cards, and credit cards.
If you have children who are under 18 years of age, you may be eligible to receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit. For information, visit the website for the Canadian Revenue Agency (www.cra-arc.gc.ca) or call toll-free 1-800-959-2221.
Schooling and Education in Alberta
Children under 16 must be registered for school. Schooling generally begins at age four or five. Most children stay in school until they finish high school, generally at 18 years of age.
In Alberta, you can choose to send your children to publicly-funded schools or to Charter schools, which require yearly tuition to be paid. Charter schools may offer a wider range of courses.
The Canadian public school system is generally divided into three levels: Elementary, Secondary and Post-Secondary, either college or university. Some districts or charter schools may organize their grade levels differently, though education standards are regulated by the provincial government. The academic year for all levels of education begins in September and runs through June for elementary and secondary students, and to April for college and university students. Standard holidays include Christmas and New Year’s holidays in December and January, and a spring break in either March or April. In addition, students have the right to observe religious holidays. Contact the local school board in your neighbourhood for information on registration.
For people who speak French as a first language, French Public schools are available.
For complete information on post-secondary education visit the Study in Alberta website at: www.studyinalberta.ca/post-secondary
If you require training in trades, visit the website for the Alberta Advanced Education's Apprenticeship and Industry Training website at www.tradesecrets.org
For adult learning, visit the Alberta Advanced Education website at eae.alberta.ca, or call
Elsewhere: 310-0000 then 780.427.5624 after being prompted
Obtaining a Driver's Licence in Alberta
If you are planning on renting, leasing, or buying a car, you must have an official Alberta driver's licence.
For complete information on how to obtain an Alberta driver's licence visit: www.servicealberta.ca/Drivers_MotorVehicles
Note: Every vehicle and driver must have insurance. Contact a local insurance provider to become properly insured before you drive.
Housing in Alberta
There are multiple housing options across Canada. If you have not visited your new city prior to immigrating, it may be best to rent an apartment on a temporary basis when you first arrive, and/or hire a real estate agent to guide you through the housing process and provide you with knowledgeable advice on the best areas for you and your family.
Different types of housing:
Apartment buildings are large, multi-unit buildings owned by one person or company where each inhabitant rents a unit. Studio or bachelor apartments are generally one room with a kitchen area and bathroom and are suited only for a single individual. Larger apartments can accommodate families as they have bedrooms and additional living space.
A large multi-unit building where each unit is owned by the inhabitant is called a condominium, and each unit is called a condo.
Often apartments and condos are found in homes that have been divided into separate living spaces.
Houses can be connected in a row, called townhouses or row houses, or detached, as separate, individual dwellings.
While average living costs vary given the size of a family, its location and level of income, housing is generally more expensive in cities. As a result, many families choose to live in suburbs which are towns located just outside of the city limits, where housing is more affordable. Suburbs often provide safe neighbourhoods, schools, shopping facilities and healthcare, all within close proximity to the amenities of the city. Housing in the country can be even less expensive and is desirable for many families, but you may need a vehicle in order to travel for your basic needs including groceries, work, school and healthcare if you opt to live in the country.
Pets: If you are renting your home or live in a condominium, it is important that you ensure pets are legally allowed on the premises before you move in with your family pet, or purchase a family pet.
It is important that you take your family, your place of work, neighbourhood and finances into account before deciding on a place to live.
To find housing without the aid of a real estate agent, search through classified ads in your local newspaper or in real estate papers which are generally free.
What can you bring into Canada?
Canada has strict rules concerning what can and cannot be brought into the country. There are regulations regarding food, alcohol, nicotine products, plants, animals, cars and other products. To avoid problems, be sure to check in advance what is and what is not allowed to come to Canada, as well as what procedures must be followed to bring certain items into the country.
For automobiles, contact:
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5
Weather in Alberta
Most Albertan cities enjoy very warm summers where temperatures can go above 30 degrees Celsius. However, it can get very cold in almost all parts of Alberta in the winter, when temperatures can go below -30 or even -40 degrees Celsius. It is very important to ensure that you are prepared for the cold weather. Invest in warm winter clothing, including sweaters, winter jackets, boots, hats, scarves and gloves or mittens. If you do not dress warmly in the winter you will risk becoming ill or getting frost bite. Frost bite is severe damage to the skin caused by winter wind exposure.
Canadians usually keep candles and matches, warm blankets, flash lights, first aid kits, and small snow shovels in their cars and homes in case of emergencies. In most parts of Canada your car must have specially designated winter tires in order to legally, and safely, drive in the winter.
Keep track of the weather to ensure that you are always dressed appropriately: www.weather.gc.ca
Additional Resources/Service Providers in Alberta
Service Alberta can provide you with information and aid on an array of topics you may encounter when you first move to Canada. Visit them at: www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca
Inform Alberta is a provincial directory of services and service providers: www.informalberta.ca
Emergency Services in Alberta
In emergency situations dial 911. By dialling 911, you will be connected with an operator who will assist you and dispatch emergency services to your location.
In non-emergency situations, if you only require the police, you can find contact numbers for major cities below.
Calgary Police: (403) 266-1234
Edmonton Police: (780) 423-4567
Directory of Immigrant-Serving Agencies in Alberta
It is important to visit an immigrant-serving agency that can answer your questions and provide you with guidance in the future.
Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth
#201, 1112B-40 Avenue NE
Calgary, AB T2E 5T8
Telephone: (403) 230-7745
Fax: Same as telephone number;
please call before sending a fax
Centre for Newcomers
#125, 920-36th Street NE
Calgary, AB T2A 6L8
Telephone: (403) 569-3325
Fax: (403) 248-5041
Calgary Immigrant Aid Society
12th Floor, 910-7 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2P 3N8
Telephone: (403) 265-1120
Fax: (403) 266-2486
Calgary Immigrant Women's Association
#200, 138-4th Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 4Z6
Telephone: (403) 263-4414
Fax: (403) 264-3914
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
3rd Floor, 120-17 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2S 2T2
Telephone: (403) 262-2006
Fax: (403) 262-2033
ASSIST Community Services Centre
Edmonton, AB T5H 0M3
Telephone: (780) 429-3111
Fax: (780) 424-7837
Catholic Social Services-Immigration
and Settlement Service
Edmonton, AB T5H 2X3
Telephone: (780) 424-3545
Fax: (780) 425-6627
Changing Together: A Centre for Immigrant Women
3rd Floor, 10010-105 Street Edmonton,
AB T5J 1C4
Telephone: (780) 421-0175
Fax: (780) 426-2225
Global Friendship Immigration Center
2nd Floor, 120-1st Avenue East
Brooks, AB T1R 1C5
Telephone: (403) 362-6115
Fax: (403) 362-6337
Y.M.C.A. - Wood Buffalo-Immigrant
#201, 10011 Franklin Avenue
Fort McMurray, AB T9H 2K6
Telephone: (780) 743-2970
Fax: (780) 743-2973
Immigrant Settlement Services,
Grande Prairie Regional College
#202, 9924-100 Avenue
Grande Prairie, AB T8V 0T9
Telephone: (780) 538-4452
Fax: (780) 532-8857
Lethbridge Family Services-Immigrant Services
508-6 Street South
Lethbridge, AB T1J 2E2
Telephone: (403) 320-1589
Fax: (403) 317-7654
Catholic Social Services: Immigration and Settlement
202, 5000 Gaetz Avenue
Red Deer, AB T4N 6C2
Telephone: (403) 346-8818
Fax: (403) 347-5220
Disclaimer: This guide is a compilation of information from multiple sources. Though the information is maintained and updated regularly, the law firm for Campbell, Cohen is not responsible for information that may have changed. This is not a government document. Neither the federal nor the provincial governments were involved in the making of this guide.