5 challenges newcomers face in Canada and how to deal with them

Julia Hornstein
Published: February 19, 2024

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 aims to welcome over 460,000 new immigrants each year, which is the highest level in Canadian history.

Upon arrival, newcomers must settle into their new homes and may experience some challenges adjusting to Canada and their new lives in the country.

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This article will outline common challenges many newcomers face when settling in Canada and provide some information and advice on how to overcome these challenges.

Language Barrier

English and French are the official languages in Canada. Many newcomers may have trouble communicating in one of these languages. Further, many jobs in Canada require English or French and either of these languages can be one of the primary requirements in a job description.

To improve language ability in English or French, newcomers should take advantage of the language training services available to them. These services aim to address all newcomer’s types of language needs, include general language training, study assistance for language assessments (like those needed for immigration purposes), job-specific language training and more.

If you are a permanent resident or protected person, you can take language classes funded by the Canadian government. These classes are called:

  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
  • Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC)

Click here for more information on how to take a language class.

Finding affordable housing

As a newcomer to Canada, one of the first things you will need to do is find a place for you and your family to call home. According to a 2018 Statistics Canada study, most newcomers look to rent a home upon first moving to Canada.

Many newcomers may struggle to find suitable housing in Canada, as rental properties are in high demand across the country.

However, there are many websites and resources to to look for housing options, including:

  • Websites like Zumper, PadMapper and Realtor.ca
  • The classified section of the local newspaper, or online classified listings
  • Bulletin boards in grocery stores, libraries, laundromats, community centers, etc.

In addition, newcomers should contact their local immigrant settlement agency. Many immigrant settlement agencies offer housing-related services, such as help finding a place to live and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

A quick web search of services offered in your city, district, or even province can help you find what services are available to you. Government-funded websites like Compass to Connect are also useful for their ability to amalgamate and search settlement services across Canada.

Isolation

Being in a new culture, far from home, family and friends can lead to isolation and loneliness. It will take time to adjust to a new environment and feel at ease.

However, Canada has a very diverse population and most large cities are home to communities from other countries. These communities are great for newcomers, as they can help to help deal with isolation and support the newcomer’s adjustment to their new home.

There are settlement services that can connect newcomers to communities in their area.

In 2021, IRCC conducted the first study into newcomer outcomes through settlement programs. They found that 61% of newcomers who availed community connection settlement services felt that those services helped them meet people they now consider to be close friends. Further, 92% of newcomers agreed that their community was welcoming of newcomers, with 90% having a strong sense of belonging to Canada.

Finding employment

Finding a job in Canada as a newcomer can be challenging, as they may encounter obstacles to having their credentials recognized and finding meaningful Canadian work.

However, Canada’s labour force has over 20 million people, and newcomers account for a growing share of the labour force. In fact, landed immigrants make up over 25 per cent of workers in Canada.

One helpful tool is having a strong network in Canada to gain access to employment opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. Newcomers should consider creating an online professional profile, such as on LinkedIn, which is widely used in Canada. This allows the user to showcase their work experience and skills, facilitate connections with new contacts and access job opportunities.

When searching for a job, reaching out to professionals in your field with questions and discussion points can provide ideal entry points for careers and tips for success in the industry.

Many Canadian settlement programs offer employment related services, most commonly to help with finding a job but also with resume preparation, mock interviews, and networking events. In particular, among those who received employment-related services, 78% credited settlement services for equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and connections crucial for success in the Canadian labour market.

Adapting to the cold, snow and ice

When compared to many other countries, Canada’s climate can be quite diverse. During the winter, Canada’s climate can be extremely cold, with heavy snowfall in some parts of the country.

A crucial tip that would benefit many newcomers to Canada is purchasing appropriately warm clothing for the winter and snow. These include hats, gloves, scarves, thermal layers (socks, shirts), insulated jackets and waterproof boots.

In addition, during Canada’s winter months, the cold and short days means it’s harder to get out and stay fit. It also means cold and flu season. In order to avoid getting sick, you can take a few proactive measures, which may include getting a flu shot. The flu shot is the best defense against the flu and is recommended for almost everyone over six months of age.

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