First Days Guide
- Social Insurance Number
- BC Medical Services Plan
- School System
- Child Care
- 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
- Victoria Craigslist
- Rental BC
- Capital Region Housing Corporation
CRHC is a non-profit provider of over 1200 rental units of affordable housing in the Capital Regional District of Victoria, BC.
- Pacifica Housing
Pacific Housing is a non-profit organization. It owns and manages over 635 units of affordable housing in 25 complexes in the Greater Victoria region and 4 in the Nanaimo area for low income families and people with disabilities.
- Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
CHF BC provides non-profit co-op housing
- BC Housing
A crown agency that develops, manages and administers a wide range of subsidized housing options across the province.
- Step-by-Step Home Buying Guide
Assess your current financial situation, determine the costs involved, and establish what you are looking for in a home.
- Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for Vancouver Island
A site providing information on current properties for sale on Vancouver Island.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
British Columbia has 6 universities, 16 colleges, and 4 public institutes. To find out more about B.C.’s public post- secondary institutions visit the Ministry of Advanced Education’s overview of B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions. This map of B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions shows where the universities, colleges, university colleges and institutes are located across the province.
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.
The Government of Canada guide to career opportunities, training, and workplace rights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7. Learning English
The information and links provide you with resources on how to improve your English.
ELSA stands for English Language Services for Adults. In BC, ELSA replaces the LINC program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada). The ELSA program provides basic level English training for adult newcomers to Canada and is funded by the government. It is free for students. Some ELSA classes have free child-minding for pre-school age children.
This ESLA brochure is available in 14 languages.
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
- VOA Special English
- American Rhetoric: Top 100 Speeches
- English Baby
- The Bob and Rob Show
- ESL Pod
- BBC Learning English
- Tumble Books (A GVPL library card is required to access the database)
- Library Press Display (A GVPL library card is required to access the database)
- GVPL ebook and audibook collection (A GVPL library card is required to access the database)