First Days Guide

  1. Housing
  2. Social Insurance Number
  3. BC Medical Services Plan
  4. School System
  5. Child Care
  6. Employment
  7. Learning English


One of the first things you’ll need to do is find somewhere to live. The links in this section will help you determine the types of housing available in Greater Victoria and assist you in finding appropriate housing in your new community.

TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre 
You are advised to read this Tenant Survival Guide before you rent a property. It is BC’s most read legal publication and has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi and Spanish.

Major Property Management Companies in Greater Victoria


Additional Housing Resources

Social Insurance Number

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number used in the administration of various Canadian government programs. You will require a SIN to work in Canada or to receive government benefits.

To apply for a SIN, please visit Service Canada website for more information.

B.C. Medical Services Plan

All residents of B.C. must enrol with Medical Services Plan (MSP). To be eligible, you must be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant. It is important to register for medical insurance as soon as you arrive in B.C.

If you have moved from another province, any medical services you require in the first 3 months should be covered by the province you have come from. After that, you will need to apply for MSP. New immigrants are eligible for MSP after a three- month waiting period. During the three-month waiting period, individuals must pay for their own coverage. Visit the Ministry of Health Medical Services Plan website for more information.

Medical coverage in BC doesn’t include prescriptions but seniors and lower income families may be eligible for reimbursement through the PharmaCare program. It’s a drug insurance program providing financial assistance to British Columbians who need help paying for prescription drugs.

After you receive your CareCard, you need to find a family doctor. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia has a province-wide physician directory. It allows you to search for physicians or doctors in your area who are accepting new patients.

The Victoria Medical Society website provides an up-to-date list of physicians in the Greater Victoria and surrounding areas who are accepting new patients.

HealthLink BC
Access to trusted health information and services. Translation services are available in over 130 languages. Speak with a registered nurse toll free 24 hours a day at 8-1-1 or pharmacist from 5 pm to 9am every day.

Toll-Free Health Informaiton Lines
Established by the Ministry of Health, the toll-free information lines provide British Columbians easy access to BC health services and programs.

Vancouver Island Health Authority 
Through a network of hospitals, clinics, centres, health units, and residential facilities, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) provides reliable health care information to approximately 716,000 people. You almost can find any health related information from VIHA’s website and comprehensive databases.

School System

Elementary and Secondary Schools

All children in B.C. between the ages of 5 and 16 must go to school. Public elementary and secondary schools are free. Children begin school when they are about 5 years old. For children under 5 years old, there are preschools. The first year of school is called kindergarten, and children attend only half-days.

To register a child for public school, phone your local School Board office (look in the White Pages under “Schools”) or ask at the school nearest your home.

LearnNow BC 
LearnNowBC is your connection to educational opportunities and services in British Columbia. You can find courses, programs and services available to B.C. students.

Post-secondary educational institutions

There are public (government-funded) and private (not government-funded) universities, colleges, and institutes in British Columbia. All post-secondary education institutions charge fees. The B.C. government gives loans to many students who need financial help. The government also pays the fees, and sometimes the living expenses, for low-income students in some programs.

Education Planner is a publicly funded resource that allows you to compare post-secondary programs in BC. Education Planner helps learners make well-informed decisions about their education and career options.

To find out more about private institutions, visit the website of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency

Developed by the Ministry of Advanced Education, this website is designed to answer any questions you may have about coming to study here in British Columbia. It will give you an overview of B.C.’s internationally recognized education system, details about programs and institutions, contact information, and requirements for studying in Canada, so you can pick the right program in the best institution for you.

Ministry of Advanced Education
Provides leadership and support for excellent and accessible education.

BC Trade Schools
Universities, Colleges & Trade Schools directory.


Parents who work or go to school may need someone to take care of their children. Here are some resources to help you find childcare.

Child Care Resource and Referral Program
This program can refer you to childcare programs in your community and is funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and your municipality.

Welcome to Child Care
BC government’s site provides all child care related information and resources.


Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you might need help with your local job search. Here are some resources to help you with your search.

The website is launched by Government of BC to help job seekers, employers and skills training service providers. It is the Government of BC’s source for labour market information.

Career Exploration 
The Government of Canada guide to career opportunities, training, and workplace rights.

Job postings

This British Columbia-based job posting site targets job seekers who want to work in the province and matches them to potential B.C. employers. Job seekers can post resumes and set up job alerts. Registration is required, at no charge.

Job Bank
Provided by Service Canada, Job Bank is Canada’s one-stop job listing Web site. Find a list of job opportunities available across Canada.

At no charge, job seekers can search this extensive database of employment opportunities by keyword, category or location. They can also post resumes, apply quickly for jobs and benefit from job matching features. Numerous career and job search articles are also presented. For a fee, employers can post their job openings.

Search through a comprehensive listing of job postings from across Canada or post your resume. Job seekers can register at no charge to use jobseeker tools like CareerAlerts, Saved Job Searches and ResuméRanking. The site also offers a resource centre, career alert service, tips from online career advisors and more. Employers can post jobs and make use of other services for a fee.

Eluta Canada
This search engine scans Canadian employer websites several times a day, picking up new job postings from tens of thousands of organizations across Canada. Search by keyword and location. Advanced search lets you find new job announcements in other ways, including by occupation and industry. You can also set up an e-mail alert to notify you when new jobs matching your search are posted.

Indeed Canada
Access millions of employment opportunities from thousands of websites. This job-search engine includes all the job listings from major job boards, newspapers, associations and company career pages. Drill down by keyword and location to jobs that fit best. Save your searches and receive jobs by email alert, MyYahoo, or other RSS feed readers.

WowJobs – British Columbia
This Canadian job search engine scans big and small employer job web pages as well as other online labour exchanges for job postings in numerous industries. Search by keyword and location, or browse jobs by location. You can also set up an e-mail alert to notify you when new jobs matching your search are posted.

Learning English

The information and links provide you with resources on how to improve your English.

LISTN stands for Language Instruction Support and Training Network. It is a society of LINC Service Providers in BC.   The program provides basic level English training for adult newcomers to Canada and is funded by the government.

LINC Information Brochure
LINC Schoools in BC

ESL stands for English as a Second Language. This online directory allows you to search schools providing ESL courses in your community. For more information about ESL education and funding, visit BC Ministry of Advanced Education website

Free English Language Learning Resources