Arrived Prepared in Canada (Pre-arrival Program for New Immigrants)

One of the toughest situation that a newly-arrived immigrant faced is the stage where he starts looking for a job that best suit his skills and qualifications and adjust to the Canadian working culture.

I must say that the support that the new immigrants are getting now is way better from what we used to have when we came to Canada in 2009.  One of the best programs available to new immigrants that I recently encountered is the pre-arrival program for eligible newcomers. This program is delivered by Settlement Online Pre-Arrival (SOPA) to eligible newcomers who are immigrating to Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, British Columbia, and Ontario.  The program allows eligible new comers can take free online courses on job search strategies and Canadian working culture and get connected with settlement agencies in their destination province and employment networks while they are still outside Canada.

The said pre-arrival orientation was created to improve connections between pre-arrival and post arrival services using Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia’s (ISANS) suite of professional online tools. SOPA’s professional orientation and courses ensures that immigrants develop job search and communication skills and arrive in Canada better prepared, more confident and enter the workforce sooner. SOPA is an organization funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Among the courses that SOPA offers are Soft Skills: Professional Communication; Soft Skills: Working with Others; Job Search Strategies; Canadian Workplace Integration; and Working in Canada. These courses can be taken in the registrants’ in their own phase.  The Job Search Strategies course is 6 weeks long and requires 5-7 hours of time a week. But people who will soon come to Canada who dedicated their time to the course are able to complete the course in just 3 weeks.  The Working with Others and Professional Communication courses can be done in 4 weeks or less at 2-4 hours a week.   While on the course, the registrant will have access to a facilitator who will mark the assignments and will answer any questions that the registrants may have.

And for those who just don’t really have time to take the courses before landing in Canada, there are two self-directed courses called Canadian Workplace Integration and Working in Canada that they can still  access for 6 months after they arrive in Canada, provided they registered to the program before landing.

An immigrant can REGISTER for the course if:

  • He/She lives outside Canada
  • He/She received approval from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to immigrate to Canada
  • A confirmation of Permanent Residence document:
  • A letter notifying pick up of Canadian visa (visa for PR applicants only)
  • A medical or security notification letter
  • A Canada visa
  • He/She has an English level (IELTS) 5.5 or higher
  • He/She has an access to a computer and high speed Internet

Here are the steps to register for the program:

  1. Prepare the required documents and Client ID from IRCC. The immigrant must have any of the documents confirming his/her PR status (as mentioned above)
  2. Complete the registration process. The registrant must fill in the registration form online,upload the required document and submit.  He/She will then receive an email from SOPA confirming his registration.
  3. Meet with your SOPA Intake Counsellor online. The registrant must schedule an appointment with an Intake Counsellor, he/she will also receive his/her SOPA Action Plan and course enrollment details

There are SOPA clients who found jobs much faster after landing in Canada because they work with a facilitator online to give them personalized guidance. By the time they finish the Job Search Strategies Course, they have a resume and a cover letter ready for Canadian employers.

One of SOPA clients who took advantage of the program was Red Amancio.  He recently immigrated from Manila to British Columbia with his wife Denise.

I took the Working in Canada course because I was applying for jobs while I was in the Philippines. The timing was perfect because when I arrived in BC, I had a few interviews and I learned how to negotiate a job contract in Canada through the course!” – Red Amancio


See Red’s full story.

Get job ready for Canada!  If you or you know someone who is immigrating to Canada, they can take advantage of SOPA’s free pre-arrival program and get connected!

I look forward to seeing more fellow immigrant’s success story! If you are interested to have your immigrant story published on this site, please feel free to contact me.

Special thanks to Melissa Chungfat a Facilitator of MOSAIC, a multilingual non-profit organization assisting immigrants and refugees in their integration into Canadian society


Reasons Why I will Stay in Winnipeg

This post was originally posted at Momsie’s Blog and is being reposted in this website.

I got a chance to catch up with a high school friend through Facebook.  He and his family are based in another country.  When he learned that I am in Winnipeg, he asked a few questions about my location, “Where is Winnipeg? There are a lot of cities in Canada, why did you choose there?”

If these questions were asked to me during my first year here in Canada, I’ll probably have one answer.  “I  came here to Winnipeg because this is where my cousin is,” that simple.

In Winnipeg’s Community Trends Report in April 2012, it was reported that Manitoba has been the most successful user of the nominee system and Winnipeg’s immigration is 5th highest of Canadian cities in 2011 (top 4 cities were – (1) Toronto (2) Vancouver (3) Montreal (4) Calgary.)

To be honest, I didn’t actually like what I saw when I first came to Winnipeg.  The stories from some friends who are in other cities of Canada even added to the pressure that my husband and I felt – we want to move to another city.  The plan was just to establish a little here in Winnipeg and maybe after 2 years we can move to another city.  But we are on our third year now and the thought of moving to another city was put aside.

Why did I put this plan aside?  Here are my  three reasons:

  1. The cost of housing and other necessities  are significantly lower. One good example is that people here are able to buy their own house – even big houses! I know some friends and distant relatives who have been in Canada (in another city)  longer that we did,  but they have been renting their place since they came, because they cannot afford to buy a house.  They may have higher salary in Vancouver or Toronto than we do here in ‘Peg, but we are making  more of our salary than them because living in those cities are more costly.
  2. I believe that the degree of de-professionalization is very low in Winnipeg than in other cities.  Normally, immigrants who came to Toronto and Vancouver have come through the live-in care program, while some of those who came to Calgary with working visa work in hotels, restaurants or coffee shops.  I do not have problems with these kind of jobs, in fact, I also worked for a coffee shop here in Winnipeg for more than 1 year.  My point is, it is better to get the job in the same field that you are in.  Here in Winnipeg, it is not impossible, I know a lot of people here in Peg who are still on their chosen fields and I myself know this for a fact. I first thought of just pursuing a labor job, but a part of me will always want to do the kind of job that I know.
  3. Despite being a small city (of a small province) and the very cold climate, I find Winnipeg to be a very welcoming place, Winnipegers are very warm people – and by saying that I don’t just mean Filipino people, Canadians are indeed very friendly. And ofcourse you who wouldn’t feel at home when you know that you will arrive in a place where there are a lot of your fellowmen (kababayan, as we Filipinos call it) – yes, there are  more than 36,000 Filipinos in Winnipeg.

For someone who came from a place where it never snows, I must admit that -42 C in winter is quite shocking.  Canada is very far from Philippines  and for an ordinary employee like me I cannot afford to travel to the Philippines as much as I want to.  That is why the large Filipino community here in Winnipeg makes it easy for  immigrants, like me to adjust.  If you are a Filipino immigrant, it’ll be  easy for you to find  support system from the large Filipino community in this city.

It can’t be denied, Filipinos are already a big part of Winnipeg, in fact, Tagalog is considered as the second language in Winnipeg.  The presence of Filipino culture is very evident in Filipino food, services, music and news  that you can find around the city.  Some streets in Winnipeg are even named after our Filipino heroes like Jose Rizal.  These and many other reasons made more Filipinos like me feel that indeed, Winnipeg is a place which we can also call HOME.

How about you why did you choose Winnipeg?

Many Fest 2016

14445455_371711096493295_1308803683_nMake sure you will not miss Winnipeg’s biggest downtown street festival happening on at Broadway on September 9 to 11, 2016.

There are lots of free things to see and do for everyone. There are 33 food trucks taking part in the Food Truck Wars, artisan market, a kids play area, a wine and beer garden and live music. And for the very first time, the area will be licensed, thus, the festival goers can enjoy beers and wines.

For full details, visit their website at

Submit your upcoming event HERE

Peggo: Winnipeg Transit’s Electronic Fare Card

The new electronic fare system of Winnipeg Transit’s is now available to all bus riders. The electronic reloadable microchip-enabled fare cards, called Peggo cards were adopted by Winnipeg Transit buses and was introduced in phases – Winnipeg senior riders started using the cards on July 4, while full-fare riders and youth riders started to use them on August 8.

winnipeg-transit-peggo-cardsToronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Minneapolis have all adopted electronic payment systems for public transit, however, transit director Dave Wardrop said that Winnipeg’s system is more advanced, based on the way it functions.

Peggo card is easy to use, when the card is tap against a farebox smart card reader, a single fare is deducted from stored value on the card.

A Peggo card, which may last up to 4 years, can be purchased in person at all 7-Eleven stores and all Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Winnipeg , it can also be bought online or by calling 311. Cards purchased online will be mailed, at no cost, within 14 days.

A peggo card can be purchased for $5. A minimum of $5 e-cash or any e-pass must be purchased with the card in order to validate your peggo card. For a limited time, after you register your peggo card and use your card for two separate trips on two different days the $5 you paid for the card will be refunded to your card as e-cash within 48 hours.  After the launch period the $5 cost for a peggo card will not be refunded.

There are 2 types of fares that can be loaded into Peggo card:

  1. e-passes – replace paper passes and are valid for an unlimited number of trips during a set number of consecutive days. Card can be loaded with e-passes good for 24 hours, three or five days and one to four weeks, as well as on a monthly or annual basis.
  1. e-cash – replaces paper tickets, the card can be loaded with cash in increments of $5, $10, $15, $20, $30 and $50, up to a maximum of $200. When paying using e-cash, a 75-minute transfer is automatically loaded on each electronic fare, eliminating the need for paper transfers.

Fares loaded online or by phone can take up to 48 hours before the fares become active in the card, to load the fares and use the Peggo card right away, it has to be loaded in person through the retail sales agent.

During the Peggo card launch, the existing paper-based bus passes and tickets can still be used, a public service announcement will be released regarding the discontinuation of the sale of paper-based bus tickets and passes. Cash fares will still be accepted, however, it will be the most expensive fare option.

For easy identification, Peggo cards will come in 2 colors. The green card will be available for passengers paying a reduced fare, such as seniors and youths while a white card is for all full fare paying passengers.

For more details regarding peggo, visit About peggo website.