Before You Arrive


In Canada, both federal and provincial or territorial laws protect the rights and freedoms of individuals. The Constitution Act of 1982 incorporates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Constitution includes the rights and freedoms to which Canadians are entitled in a free and democratic society. The Constitution guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens. It also guarantees civil rights to everybody in Canada.

Affirming rights that Canadians have enjoyed for centuries and a number of additional rights, the Canadian Constitution protects:

  • The freedom to express your beliefs and opinions freely (including through free press);
  • The freedom to associate with anyone you wish and gather peacefully with other people;
  • The freedom to practice religion;
  • The right to live anywhere in Canada;
  • The right to protection from unlawful or unjust arrest or detention by the government because in Canada every individual is equal before and under the law. You also have the right to due legal process under Canadian law. This means that the government must respect all your rights under the law;
  • The right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability. The same rights whether you are a woman or a man.
  • The right to receive services from the federal government in either English or French.

Our laws protect all Canadians from unjust discrimination. All Canadians enjoy the same access to education, health care, jobs, housing, social services and pensions, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In 2005, Parliament passed a law extending the right to civil marriage to same-sex couples. At the same time, the law protects religious freedom, so that no person or organization can be forced to act contrary to their conscience, religion or beliefs in respect of marriage.


Canada has three levels of government: Federal, Provincial and Municipal. Canadian citizens elect a representative for each level of government.


Members of the Federal Government or Members of Parliament (MP) represent their respective Ridings on issues relating to the country, at the House of Commons and in their Ridings. A Riding is also known as an electoral district. Federal elections are held every four years. Led by the Prime Minister the federal government determines priorities and policies and ensures implementation of laws that generally effect the entire country.


Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) represent their respective Ridings on issues relating to the province, at the Legislature and in their Riding. A provincial general election – an election in all of Ontario’s provincial electoral districts at the same time, is held every four years on the first Thursday in October, unless that Thursday is a day of cultural or religious significance or the Lieutenant Governor in Council calls an election earlier at the request of the Premier. The provincial governments are responsible for public schooling, health, social services, highways and justi- ce administration. They overlap the federal government in some areas.


Municipal government is a local council authority which provides local services, facilities, safety and infrastructure for communities. It is led by its Mayor and its council members. Municipal elections are held every four years. Voters in the province of Ontario elected mayors, councillors, school board trustees and all other elected officials in all of the province’s municipalities.

Before You Arrive Checklist
Here is a CHECKLIST of important things to do before and/or within the first two weeks of your arrival in Leeds Grenville.

Below the checklist will list where/how you can obtain important documents.

  • Find a place to live and set up essential services such as utilities (water, heat, electricity), insurance and telephone.
  • Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Apply for an Ontario Health Card (OHIP)
  • Apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
  • Apply for the GST/HST Credit
  • Open a bank account
  • Find a family doctor
  • Find out about local health clinics and emergency services
  • Get your language ability tested and find English and/or French classes for you and your family
  • Register your children in school
Below is a list of organizations to contact to apply for these essential documents:
Contact Details
Social Insurance
Number (SIN) You cannot work in
Canada without a SIN.
You must apply in
person for your Social
Insurance Number.
Service Canada

1-800-622-6232 (1 800 O-Canada)

Service Canada locations in the Leeds & Grenville area:
Brockville, Gananoque, Kemptville

Prescott Outreach, Wednesdays only @ CSE Consulting, Prescott

Ontario Health Card

An OHIP card allows
you to access publically
funded medical care in

Service Ontario


Service Ontario operates
Health Card (OHIP) offices
in Brockville, Gananoque,
Kemptville, Morrisburg,
Prescott and Westport.

Canada Child Tax
Benefit (CCTB)
The Canada child tax
benefit (CCTB) is a
tax-free monthly
payment made to
eligible families to help
them with the cost of
raising children under
18 years of age.
Canada Revenue Agency

1- 800-387-1193

GST/HST credit Canada Revenue Agency


Ontario Driver’s License Driver Examination
1-888-570-6110The only DriveTest Centre
in Leeds Grenville is located
at 2211 Parkedale Avenue,


TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to assist Permanent Residents, Live-in-Caregivers and Convention Refugees with settlement and immigration needs.

TR Leger Immigrant Services/TR Leger Services aux Immigrants

Toll Free: 1-877-875-3437 (Cornwall)

Services offered include:
  • Settlement services
  • Language assessments and referrals to language classes in school and online
  • Matching newcomers with volunteers for the purpose of language and cultural integration
  • Conversation groups
  • Referrals to other agencies and community resources
  • Help with Government forms and applications
Assistance is available to help with:
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Health services
  • Transportation
  • Community services
  • Housing
To reach the Leeds Grenville / Lanark Settlement Worker Office: (613) 342-1127 ext 211 or Cell (613) 803-6053

Get Help in Your Language

Most community and social services in Leeds & Grenville are offered in English or French. However, local emergency service providers such as police departments and hospitals have translation services available if they are required.

The sites below are free online directories of organizations and services in Leeds Grenville. These databases are not specific to newcomers but do provide access to reliable community information.

The Brockville Public Library Community Resource Database ( is a free, online directory of health, human service, education agencies and programs in Brockville and the surrounding area. It includes services for children, teens, adults, families, and seniors. With detailed information on over 200 community resources, this database provides instant, keyword access to essential information for Brockville individuals, organizations and visitors.

211’s is a non-emergency telephone helpline (dial 2-1-1 on your telephone) and website that provides information on social services, organizations and government services offered in Leeds Grenville. 211 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 100 languages. offers a wide variety of settlement information that is fully translated into more than 30 different languages.

A great way to connect with people who speak your native language is through one of the many Ethnocultural Groups in Leeds & Grenville.

Banking and Personal Finances

Opening a Bank Account

One of the first things you will need to do once you arrive in Leeds Grenville is open a bank account. The website (Daily Life section) offers information on how to open a bank account in Canada. You will need to show more than one piece of identification to open an account. Contact your bank of choice, to learn more about the process. All of Canada’s major banking institutions have one or multiple locations in Leeds Grenville. These include:

• BMO (Bank of Montreal);
• CBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce);
• President’s Choice – PC Financial Bank;
• RBC ( Royal Bank of Canada );
• Scotiabank;
• TD Canada Trust;
• Kawartha Credit Union.

All of these institutions will provide you with informa- tion about their services. Some have special offers for newcomers to Canada. For a list of all the banks in Leeds Grenville visit:

Additional Sources of Banking Information

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada offers in- formation about the benefits of different types of bank accounts. To find this information, consult their website (, or call their main office at 1-866- 461-3222.

The Canadian Banking Association offers information on banking in Canada for newcomers. Refer to their website,, or call their main office at (416) 362-6093 and ask about their information for newcomers.

Currency Exchange

Like most currencies, the value of the Canadian dollar changes constantly. To help you understand the value of the Canadian dollar at any given time, the Bank of Canada offers an online currency converter: Another useful website for current conversions, is

Income Tax

You must file an income tax return for every year you reside in Canada. The tax collected is used by the federal government to provide programs and services such as health care, education and infrastructure support to people who live in Canada. Even if you have no income to report or tax to pay, you may be eligible for certain payments or credits. You must file an income tax return in order to receive the following payments or credits:

• GST/HST credit (Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax)
• Canada Child Tax Benefit payments
• Provincial or Territorial tax credits

The deadline to submit your tax return is April 30 of each year. If you owe money to the government and miss this deadline, you could be charged interest fees.

The Canada Revenue Agency offers an introduction to the Canadian income tax system to help you understand how to file your income tax return in Canada. To find this information, call them at 1-800-959-8281 or consult the website,

In Leeds Grenville, the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau offers a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program for people unable to complete their income tax and benefit return by themselves and are unable to pay for assistance. They can be reached (613) 498-2111 or toll free at 1-800-926-0777.

Financial and Credit Counselling

Resolve Credit & Financial Counselling Services

Provides confidential financial counseling to individuals and families. Helps clients with budgeting and setting financial priorities. Offers a debt management program which includes settlements to creditors and consumer education. Appointments are available in Brockville, Smiths Falls, Kemptville and Gananoque.
7B Perth Street Brockville, ON K6V 6C5
(613) 341-8788 Toll free 1-800-379-5556

Social Assistance

Ontario Works helps people who are in financial need. In most cases, a client must agree to participate in employment assistance activities in order to receive financial assistance. Emergency assistance is also available to people who are in a crisis or an emergency situation.

To find out more about the Ontario Works program, visit the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services website ( or contact the United Counties of Leeds Grenville (613) 342-3840 Toll free 1-800-770-2170 ext. 2129.


One of your first needs after arriving in Leeds Grenville will be finding a place to live. You may need to find a temporary residence until you find a more permanent home.
There are many types of housing available in Leeds Grenville, depending on your needs and budget. You may choose to buy or rent your home.


It is important to understand the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant if you decide to rent. People who rent are called “tenants”. Tenants pay a monthly rental fee to the owner of the building who is a “landlord”. This fee may or may not include utilities such as heat, water, and hydro fees. You may also have to pay for cable, internet and parking. Your rental agreement or lease should include details about the cost, rules and terms of your agreement. Rentals are available as single-family apartments (single-family dwellings in a building with many other apartments), houses, or duplexes (one house separated into two single-family dwellings). Most rentals have one, two or three bedrooms. “Bachelor” units have a single room that serves as a living area and bedroom. You may also rent a detached house with surrounding property as well as semi-detached and townhouses where each house shares a wall with another.


There are many things to consider if you are purchasing your home. The number one consideration is if you are financially ready. Costs to consider when buying a house are not only the mortgage and interest rates but also property taxes,
repairs, and maintenance. If you purchase a condominium you will also need to pay condominium fees. Con- dominium fees typically cover common area maintenance and contribute to the building’s reserve fund.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is an excellent resource for Canadian housing information. Their website has useful information for newcomers on renting or buying a home including:

If you are planning to buy a home, two useful CMHC publications are:
• Buying Your First Home in Canada: What Newcomers Need to Know and
• Homebuyers Checklist: A Newcomers’ Guide and Workbook.

These can be downloaded from or you can order them by calling CMHC at 1-800-668- 2642. These resources are available in eight different languages.
The web site also provides information about buying your first home in Canada, where to look for rental housing, how to choose a rental home and emergency and short term housing. also provides information about your rights as a tenant in Ontario.