This information is a guide about life in Halifax for you and your family, as new permanent residents. It may also be helpful to you if you are here as a temporary resident, a temporary foreign worker, an international student, a refugee or are just thinking about moving here from another province or country. Learning about Halifax will make your transition a little bit easier.
On this page, you will find information about:
|Halifax Customer Service: Call Centre and Customer Service Centers|
|Television, Radio and Newspapers|
|Transportation in Halifax|
We hope that the information in this guide, along with the help of your friends, neighbours, and community organizations, will make you feel at home!
If you would like to provide feedback, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Transitioning into a new life will be easier if you are prepared. For a checklist of essential documents to bring, and what to do before you arrive, visit the Citizen and Immigration Website.
Here is a list of important things to do when you arrive:
|If you need||Contact|
Permanent resident Visas
Sponsor members of your family
Become a Canadian Citizen
Proof of Canadian citizenship
A federal agency that provides citizenship, settlement, refugee and immigration services and programs. Telephone: 1-888-242-2100
Settlement information & Orientation
Translation services or English classes
Writing and pronunciation classes
Classes and programs to support professionals
Work in Nova Scotia
Business start-up services and support
Counseling for family problems
A community-based organization that has many services for newcomers, on site and online. Newcomers often come here soon after they arrive.
Location: Mumford Professional Centre, 6960 Mumford Road, Suite 2120, Halifax
Find information about the Nova Scotia Nominee Program
Questions about immigrating to Nova Scotia about applications for permanent residency
Most provinces and territories in Canada have an agreement with the Government of Canada that lets them nominate immigrants who want to settle there. In Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI) is the provincial government department that is responsible for nominating immigrants for permanent residency in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) makes the final determination on granting permanent residence to Canada.
Telephone: toll free in NS 1-877-292-9597 or (902) 424-5230
Location: 1741 Brunswick Street, Suite 110A, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
School Support Program
Youth Outreach Program
Saturday Morning Study Skills
Active Living Program
A community based organization that helps newcomers with new language, culture, community and recreation.
Location: 65 Main Avenue, Halifax
Information on French Schools
Family matching program
Provides settlement and integration services to French-speaking immigrants.
Location: 6960 Chemin Mimford, Bureau 2085
English-as-an-additional language (EAL)
Early Learning Program for preschoolers
At-home English instruction
Help with career goals and training courses
Individualized, computer-based instruction
Offers full-time and part-time language instruction at three locations. Limited childcare is available. The Canadian Connections Program offers individualized computer-based instruction including pre-employment skills, occupation-specific language, and advanced English skills (in Bedford and Dartmouth).
|English for academic purposes||
Offers English classes to prepare you for postsecondary education. Application deadlines are in fall, winter and spring.
Location: 5685 Leeds Street, Halifax
Group and individual Language assessments
One-on-one language councilling about English schools
Referrals to Language Programs
Information about community programs
Help with finding language classes
Provides language assessment services based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and also provides language counseling, and referrals to language classes.
Location: 204-6169 Quinpool Road (above Wendy's restaurant), Halifax
|Services and help for Refugee Claimants||
Provide no-cost legal and settlement services to refugee claimants in Nova Scotia.
Location: 5538 Macara Street, Halifax
|Uses of computers, read or study, borrow books, magazines, movies (DVD), books and music on CD, improve your English with a tutor||
English as a Second Language for Adults
Improve your English language skills
Reading and understanding the Newcomer Guide
Reading and understanding the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook
Reading, understanding and studying the Canadian Citizenship guide
Support with homework for children and youth
Practise English with volunteer tutors
A community-based literacy organization that helps immigrant children, youth and families improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Programs are free.
Location: 6136 University Ave, Halifax
Information on various cultural communities in Halifax
Information on cultural events and the annual Multicultural Festival
Teaches Nova Scotians about multiculturalism and represents the interests of multicultural organizations and communities in Nova Scotia.
Location: 1113 Marginal Road, Halifax
Apply under the "Community Identified" stream of the Nova Scotia Nominee program
Connect with other business owners and operators, managers, civil servants and community leaders
Works to promote and attract economic growth in Halifax, provides networking for newcomers, and screens applicants under the "Community Identified" stream of Nova Scotia Nominee Program
First Aid and CPR training
Disaster and emergency preparedness tips or information sessions
Temporary free loans of health mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers
Temporary free loans of life jackets
Bullying, violence and abuse prevention training for children, youth or adults
Assistance locating or contracting family members displaced or missing abroad
First Aid & emergency preparedness kits
Information about seniors' safety in the Halifax region
Offers an extensive network of programs and services that actively reach out and serve local communities throughout the province.
Location: 133 Troop Avenue, Dartmouth
Enroll your children in elementary, Junior High or High School
Find out about school cancellations
School Cancellations: 902-464-4636
Location: 33 Spectacle Lake Drive, Dartmouth
The municipal, or local, government is called Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality or HRM. Halifax consists of Dartmouth, Halifax, the former Halifax County and Bedford areas.
European settlement in Halifax was established in 1749. Prior to that, the area was occupied by the Mi'kmaq native population, whose presence continues to this day.
Immigration has a long history in this area. From 1928 until 1971, over one million immigrants came to Canada through Pier 21, in the port of Halifax. Many immigrants settled here and made the culture of HRM stronger.
HRM was born in 1996 when Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and the County of Halifax joined together. The new city included around 200 communities, and became the largest municipality in Atlantic Canada.
Today, Halifax is the most multicultural city in Nova Scotia. We are proud of the mix of cultures, languages and histories that help make this an international city!
Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia. It is located on the East Coast of Canada on the Atlantic Ocean. Halifax is closer to Europe than many other North American cities by airplane. It is also closer to New York and Boston than any other major Canadian city.
Did you know?
HRM is home to 55% of Atlantic Canada's immigrants and 80% of Nova Scotia's immigrants. We welcome newcomers who are thinking about coming to Halifax!
Canada has two official languages: English and French. Both languages are spoken in Halifax.
The Canadian dollar is our national currency. Paper money comes in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Each paper bill has its own unique colour.
Canadian coins include: five cents (the nickle), ten cents (the dime), twenty-five cents (the quarter), one dollar (the loonie) and two dollars (the toonie).
Halifax is on Atlantic Daylight Time (ADT), which is four hours before Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). That means that if it is 7 pm in Halifax, it is 6 pm in New York, 12 midnight in Paris, and 7 am - the next day - in Tokyo.
Seasonal Time Changes
We change our clocks in spring and fall. This is called Daylight Saving Time. We turn our clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March. On the first Sunday in November, we turn our clocks back one hour. We do this so we can get more daylight in the afternoons.
The weather is very different during the winter, spring, summer and fall. Halifax has warmer winters than the rest of Canada because we are so close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Did you know?
Winter weather in HRM can have strong winds, heavy snowfall, freezing rain and cold temperatures.
Making a call
Canada became a country in 1867 when the Queen of England signed the British North America Act. Canada is a large country with 10 provinces, 3 territories and a population of more than 30 million people. Canada has a federal style of government. This means each province or territory has its own government structure that works with the federal government in Ottawa, Ontario.
Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy. That means our head of State is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen lives in the United Kingdom and is represented in Canada, by the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors of each province who perform royal duties on her behalf. The head of government is an elected Prime Minister. Government in Canada follows the principles of parliamentary democracy which include giving citizens the right to vote in elections by secret ballot. The government answers to citizens and can be changed by the people. Every citizen has the freedom to participate in political and social activities that build communities and shape the nation.
There are three levels of government in Canada, and each level provides different services.
Halifax Regional Council meets on Tuesdays at 6 pm at Halifax City Hall. You can watch the Council session live on your television on Eastlink Channel 10, or online at Haligonia.ca. Access the Municipal calendar to see what's on the agenda.
Call Centre (311):
Call 311 toll-free from anywhere throughout HRM and our agents can provide you with a wide variety of municipal information and services in over 150 languages using a telephone interpretation service (Dial 5 to speak to an agent and ask for an interpreter). For customers with a TTY/TDD machine (Hearing Impaired) call 902-490-6645
7 am to 11 pm daily
Closed on Christmas and New Year's Day
11 pm to 7 am after-hour urgent service
Requests for transportation, municipal operations, facilities, animal services, waste water services and illegally parked vehicles.
Open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday (except for Holidays).
Nova Scotia 211
211 is a free, confidential information and referral service for the thousands of non-profit, community and government services available in NS.
When you dial 2-1-1, trained information and referral specialists will help you find and understand services like food banks, housing assistance, emergency shelters, services for seniors, mental health/addiction services, home care and respite, tax services, credit counseling, services for people with disabilities, recreational programs, tuition assistance and much more. We are available 24/7, in English and French and for the hearing impaired. There are also interpretation services available in over 100 languages. You can also search www.ns.211.ca.
What you need to do to get settled in your new home:
Apply for a Permanent Residence Card
It is important for all newcomers to Canada to have a Canadian Permanent Residence (PR) card. The PR card gives you proof of your permanent resident status when you come back to Canada. You can apply for your PR card when you have the IMM1000 Record of Landing.
To apply, phone 1-888-242-2100 or visit www.cic.gc.ca
Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
A social insurance number, or SIN, lets you apply for a job in Canada and receive government benefits.
Telephone: 1-800-206-7218 (select option "3"), or visit Service Canada online.
It is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash. Most Canadians use cheques, debit cards and credit cards to pay for what they buy. It is also important to establish a good credit history. In Halifax, there are six main banks and several credit unions. Some offer services in different languages, and provide services specific to newcomers. There are different types of bank accounts depending on your needs. It is important to talk to several banks to find out which one has the lowest fees and best service.
As a customer, you can write cheques, earn interest, apply for credit, pay your bills, and purchase investments.
To open an account you may need to have two types of identification: a picture ID and /or social insurance number (for income tax).
Use the Yellow Pages to find a list of banking institutions located in Halifax.
Credit Cards and building credit
It may take a long time for you to get a credit card from VISA or MasterCard because you are new to Canada. If possible, do not cancel your credit cards from your country before you come here. You might need them because you might not be able to get a credit card here right away.
It is important to build good credit history in Canada. Good credit rating will allow you to apply for loans and mortgage in the future. To build your credit history in Canada, talk to the staff at your local bank. Your bank may be willing to give you a credit card with a smaller spending limit or secured credit card.
Many stores offer their own credit cards for use in their stores. These cards have very high interest rates so if you do not pay the entire balance each month, you will have to pay a lot of interest.
Find a place to live
If you can, before your arrive, arrange a place to stay for your first few nights in Nova Scotia. You can contact a travel agent to find a place to stay or you can use the internet.
Halifax is relatively affordable, and there are a wide range of housing prices. Your first home may not be the one you live in forever. You need time to learn about the rental and real estate markets, and different neighbourhoods. Good sources of information are local newspapers, Yellow Pages and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Most newcomers do not find a job for the first few months. Remember this when you think about how much you want to spend on your housing. Most experts say you should not spend more than 33% of your income before taxes on a place to live. Some of the expenses may include:
Rent will depend on the size, location and what utilities are included. Some apartments include heat and hot water as part of the rent. Usually apartments come with two appliances (stove & fridge); however, in some cases other appliances are included such as dishwasher, washer and dryer. When looking for an apartment, it is helpful to look around to see what best suits your needs.
When applying to rent an apartment, landlords usually do background checks on the new residents. Part of their security check includes calling previous landlords to ensure that occupants paid their rent on time and were good tenants. As a newcomer, you probably will not have names for any local landlords. You might want to look for an apartment from companies that have special arrangements for newcomers. A few of these companies are: Universal Properties, Killam Properties and Twin City Management.
Did you know?
For more information on your rights as a tenant, please call the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations toll free line at 1-800-670-4357 or in Halifax call 902-424-5200.
There are also lower-cost housing options provided by non-profit organizations, housing co-operatives, public housing authorities and emergency shelters. For a listing visit our page, here.
TIPS: Questions to ask before you rent
Buying a home
There is a real variety of housing choices in the many communities throughout Halifax. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Halifax is one of the most inexpensive housing locations in the country.
Did you know?
CMHC has a website for newcomers with information on buying or renting in Canada in 8 different languages, including checklists and videos.
Utilities and Home Services
Here are some of the main companies providing services such as power, oil and water to residents of HRM.
Open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm
Telephone: 902-428-6230 (Metro Halifax), 1-800-428-6230 (toll free), 1-800-565-6051 (TDD/ deaf or hard of hearing)
|Oil||Many different companies sell home heating oil. Check the Yellow Pages under "Oils - Fuel"|
Emergency phone: 902-490-6940 (24 hours)
|Telephone, Internet and Cable TV||There are many companies to choose from. Check "Telephone" under the Yellow Pages.|
In Halifax, we separate our waste. Here are some details.
Sales and property taxes are the main forms of government revenue in Halifax. The funds are used to pay for many services. It is not common to negotiate in store for a lower price.
In Nova Scotia, the harmonized sales tax (HST) is charged on most goods and services. The rate of HST is 15%. It is a combination of the 5% federal goods and services tax (GST) and the 10% provincial sales tax (PST). For example, if you bought an item for $100, you would pay $15 in HST. If this tax is not shown on the price tag of an item, it will be added when you pay for the item. Unless specified, HST is not included in price tags.
More detailed information can be found at Canada Revenue Agency.
If you are planning on owning a property in Halifax, you must pay residential taxes, which help pay for services such as snow removal, garbage collection, fire protection and road repairs. The amount of tax you pay will depend on the size, type and location of your property. The provincial government performs the assessment; however, the municipal government sets the rate and collects the money. Local improvement charges may also be added to your bill for certain services. For more information, call 311.
TIP: Halifax Regional Municipality can help homeowners pay their property tax through a payment plan, a property rebate or deferral of property taxes (payment is put off to a later date).
Property insurance is important whether you rent or own. You can buy property insurance to protect your home and your things in case there is a fire, flood, robbery or other serious problem. Many, and sometimes all of the costs of repairing or replacing your home and contents are covered when you have insurance. There are many different insurance companies and insurance brokers than can assist you in finding the right plan.
For more information on companies that offer property insurance, please check the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory, and look under "insurance (Insurance Agents and Brokers)".
TIP: Call a few different insurance companies to find the best rate and if you have a car, you may cover both with the same company.
HRM has police, fire and ambulance services to make sure you are safe.
HRM has both a Municipal police service (Halifax Regional Police) and a contracted police service (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP). The Halifax Regional Police is mostly responsible for the urban areas, and the RCMP works in the sub-urban and rural areas.
The Police focus on community issues and use the community-response model of policing. For example:
Did you know?
Victim Services Unit of Halifax Regional Police
The Victim Services Unit of Halifax Regional Police provides helpful services to victims of crime, especially domestic abuse. Victim Services gives crisis intervention, support and referrals to the victims and answers questions in person or by phone. If you are a victim, you can choose to stay anonymous, phone 902-490-5300.
The Nova Scotia Department of Community Services is a provincial department that provides a range of support for children, youth and families, services for people with disabilities, employment support, income assistance and help with housing and repairs. To find out more contract the Central Regional Office by phoning 902-424-5074 or visiting them online.
If you need legal services in Nova Scotia, there are many options available to you.
If you need legal services but can't afford to hire a lawyer, you may be able to get help through Nova Scotia Legal Aid. They provide a lawyer for people can't afford one. There are 13 community-based law offices in Nova Scotia that deal with legal aid cases, as well as the Halifax/Dartmouth Metro Community Law Clinic. Legal aid is not available for refugee claimants. To find out more, contact Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission online or by phone, 902-420-6583 or toll free at 1-877-420-6583.
Getting around Halifax is easy. You can drive a car, ride a bus, hop on a ferry, ride a bike, take a taxi or walk.
Halifax Transit is the name of our Municipal public transportation system. You can pay in cash, or purchase a monthly pass or tickets. For information on where to purchase transit passes or tickets, or get routes and schedule information, please refer to the Riders' Guide, which is available in booklet format or online. Halifax Transit has many routes that travel locally, to suburban areas and outer communities in the Municipality.
Did you know?
If you are waiting at a Metro Transit stop and have access to a phone, you can dial 480, followed by the four digit number located on the bus stop signer under "GO TIME". This will give you information about when your next bus will come.
Ferries have two routes between downtown Halifax and Dartmouth. The ferry is wheel-chair friendly and connects to the bus and Access-A-Bus systems.
If you cannot use the bus or ferry system because of a disability, you can use the Access-A-Bus. It is a shared-ride, door-to-door public system funded by the Municipality. Phone 311 or email email@example.com to book your ride.
Take a taxi
Get a Driver's License
If you will be getting around Halifax in your own vehicle, please contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles at Access Nova Scotia.
Do you have a driver's license from your country?
Do you have a license from another Canadian province?
You can drive in Nova Scotia for 90 days. After that, you will need to get a Nova Scotia driver's license.
Purchase your own vehicle
You can buy a used or new vehicle. The Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association is a good place to start your search. It is always good to do some research before visiting any dealers so that you can negotiate a good price for the vehicle you want to buy. If you will be buying a used car, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has some tips that may help you in your search.
Do you need to register your vehicle?
Once you buy a car, you must purchase both a vehicle permit (which will get your license plates), and a vehicle certificate registration, which proves ownership. You can go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles at Access Nova Scotia to get the documents yourself. Contact them by phone 902-424-5851 or 1-800-898-7688.
TIP: Identification Card
If you are not going to get a driver's license and you want proof of identity with a photo you will want to get an identification card. It is available through Access Nova Scotia.
Do you have children?
Child safety seats are required for children less than 18kg (40lb) and booster seats are required for children under nine years of age or 145 cm (4ft 9in tall). For more information phone 1-866-288-1388 or visit www.momsanddads.ca or www.safekidscanada.ca
Do you need insurance?
Do you have a cell phone?
In Nova Scotia, it is against the law to use cell phones or to text message while you are driving. You can use a cell phone only in an emergency or if you are using a hands-free device.
Did you know?
You must wear a helmet if you use a motorcycle, bicycle, scooter, skateboard or inline skates.
There are two toll bridges that connect downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth: the A. Murray MacKay Bridge (usually called the "New Bridge") and the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge (usually called the "Old Bridge"). It costs $1 each time you cross the bridge. Walkers and cyclists can only use the Macdonald Bridge. You can also buy an electronic Macpass for convenience.
Nova Scotia has many resources for people with disabilities. The government also provides financial assistance to people with a recognized disability. In all government buildings there should be wheelchair access. In most public places such as malls and schools, there is access for people with disabilities.
Harbourview Weekend Market (Dartmouth)
Kijiji is an online website that offers a convenient, free, easy way for people in the same city to buy, sell, trade and help each other out in areas such as goods, cars, services, housing and jobs.
Apply for a Nova Scotia Health Card
In Nova Scotia, basic health coverage (called Medical Service Insurance or MSI) is paid for through your taxes.
Whether you immigrated or moved from another part of the country, coverage will generally begin two months after you arrive. Be sure to contact your old province to make sure you have provincial health coverage until your Nova Scotia coverage begins.
Your Nova Scotia health card does not cover some medical services. You can buy extra health insurance from private companies to cover prescription drugs, dental care, eye care, and medical equipment. These services are also often provided as part of an employee benefit plan.
Find a Doctor
Family doctors are the first point of consultation for patients of all ages. It is important to find a family doctor for your family. To find a family doctor:
Did you know?
If you do not have a family doctor, there are walk-in medical clinics with qualified, licensed physicians. You can call the clinics to make same day appointments as well. Visit www.doctors.ns.ca for more details.
Important Hospitals and Clinics
The Nova Scotia Health Authority provides health services to the people who live in the Municipality, as well as special services to all of Atlantic Canada. The QEII is the largest hospital in Atlantic Canada.
Hospitals and Health Centres with Emergency Services
Cobequid Community Health Centre, 40 Freer Lane, Lower Sackville
Dartmouth General Hospital, 325 Pleasant Street, Dartmouth
Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital, 22637, #7 Highway, Sheet Harbour
Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital, 492 Archibald Brook Rd, Middle Musquodoboit
QEII Health Sciences Centre, 1278 Tower Road, Halifax
Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital, 7702 #7 Highway, Musquodoboit Harbour
IWK Health Centre, 5850/5980 University Ave, Halifax
Nova Scotia Hospital, 300 Pleasant Street, Dartmouth
Health and Language Interpreters
The Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre offer language interpreters for free. Interpretation is available 24/7 both face to face and through telephone. American Sign Language is also provided. Tell the hospital staff or any other health services providers if you need an interpreter and it will be provided for you. If your doctor refers you for an appointment he/she should write on the referral form that you will require an interpreter.
Women and Children's Health
The IWK Health Centre provides care to women, children, youth and families for the Maritimes. It provides information and support to keep your family healthy, including parenting resources.
5850/5980 University Ave, Halifax. Phone 902-470-6828. The Women's Health Nurse Practitioner at the IWK can be reached at 902-470-6755
Women's Health Community Clinics
Women's Health Community Clinics are located in various areas throughout Halifax. They offer assessment and screening, teaching and counselling, and family planning. A doctor's referral is not needed. To book an appointment in a community near you, call 902-470-6755.
There are a number of dental services in Halifax. For information on where to find a dentist, please check the yellow pages under "Dentists".
There are a number of eye services in Halifax. For information on where to find an optometrist, please check the yellow pages under "optometrists".
Did you know?
Holistic Medicine practitioners and resources
If you are looking for a holistic medicine practitioner you will find the Nova Scotia Good Health Directory useful. Nova Scotia has dozens of holistic medicine practitioners from chiropractors and homeopaths to acupuncturists and naturopaths. Call 902-431-6370 for more information.
Public education is free and available to every child in Canada. In Halifax, there are more than 54,000 students, 140 schools and 3,600 teachers to help young people learn.
Your child must be five years old, on or before December 31 to be eligible to attend public school during that school year. They must attend school until the age of 15 or 16, depending on where they live. Generally, the education system is organized in the following way:
How can I register my child?
There are a number of private schools in Halifax spanning different faiths, interests and student needs. For a full listing see the Yellow Pages and search "private schools".
Did You Know?
It is illegal to leave a child home alone if they are under 12 years old. This means if parents are working, or if they go out for a short time, the child must be supervised by a caregiver. There are many different options for parents who cannot always be home to care for children.
The YMCA provides a School Settlement Program where staff work on-site in 26 schools in and provide information and orientation for families about their new school and community.
The Nova Scotia Department of Community Services regulates and licenses child care facilities in Nova Scotia. Visit us online for information on where to look for childcare, how to ensure quality care, and how to start your own childcare service.
If you are looking for play groups, classes, activities, family events and support programs in Halifax, then some great resources are:
High School Equivalency
The General Educational Development (GED) is an international high school equivalency testing program for adults who did not finish their high school education. The GED lets adults show that their academic skills are equal to high school graduates. Telephone: 902-424-4227
For detailed information on the Newcomers' Guide to Nova Scotia schools, visit Nova Scotian Immigration online.
HRM has many universities and colleges for your family to choose from.
Dalhousie University (Dal)
Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC)
Saint Mary’s University (SMU)
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD)
Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU)
Atlantic School of Theology (AST)
University of King’s College (King’s)
In Halifax and Dartmouth there are four Community Language programs for newcomers who want to improve English as an additional Language. There are also a range of Labour Market language programs designed to help you improve English for work and business. These programs are free for adult newcomers who are eligible.
To learn more about these programs, contact Language Assessment Services of Nova Scotia. They will provide you with a free language assessment. After you finish your assessment, Language Assessment Services of Nova Scotia will help you choose a language school or program based on your results and your goals.
English as additional language programs:
Labour Market Language Programs
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISAN) telephone 902-423-3607
English for Academic Purposes NSCC, Telephone: 902-491-4911
For information about French language programs, go to www.ImmigrationFrancophoneNE.ca or Telephone: 902-433-0439
The Halifax Public Libraries system has 13 branch libraries in communities throughout HRM from Sheet Harbour to Hubbards, as well as the new Central Library on Spring Garden Road. The lending collections include books, magazines, DVDs, audio books on CD, music CDs, and an extensive collection of free downloadable audiobooks and e-Books available from their website. They also send these materials to your home if you are unable to visit a Library location, through the Borrow by Mail and Home Delivery Services.
At the Library, you and your family can:
All of the Library programs and services are free. For more information, including the location of your nearest library, call 490-5753 or visit our website at www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca
Your Library Card
For news, the local channels are:
Go to the Yellow Pages under “Radio Stations & Broadcasting Companies” for a full list of radio stations.
There are two daily newspapers in the HRM:
There are also two national newspapers:
The Coast (www.thecoast.ca) is a free weekly newspaper that gives entertainment news for HRM.
Touch BASE: The Magazine for Global-Minded Canadians
Touch BASE is a free monthly news magazine for newcomers to Canada and global-minded citizens. The publishers report on at least three special ethnic communities every year. They also have a Diversity Calendar in December. You can find it in most public places, such as ferry terminals and libraries. http://www.touchbaseonline.ca
In Canada, people pay income tax each year. This money is used to support important programs such as education and health care. For more information you can phone: 1-800-267-6999 (toll-free) or visit: www.cra.gc.ca
Did You Know?
For information on taxes for newcomers, please visit: www.cra.gc.ca/newcomers
On this page, you will find:
Video series- Newcomers to Canada and the Canadian Tax System
Preparing Your Income Tax and Benefit Return - this video is intended for people who may never have filed their own income tax and benefit return, or who are filing for the first time.
Halifax has a diverse creative community and many established business organizations. Major employers in Halifax include the telecommunications industry, financial services, information technology, tourism, the health care sector, and all three levels of government.
TIP - Volunteering can be a good way to add to your current international experience and gain relevant Canadian experience as well as further your knowledge of Canadian workplace culture. Speak with a career counsellor to get the best advice about if/how to volunteer.
Find a Job
Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) helps newcomers who are looking for work in Nova Scotia. An Employment Specialist will begin by learning about your education, previous work experience, skills and qualifications, and will then help you to:
For Career Development, Resume Advice, Workshops etc. contact one of these organizations:
For assistance with Building Your Professional Networks once you are employment ready, contact the
Connector Program through the Halifax Partnershiphttp://www.halifaxpartnership.com/en/home/get-connected/connector-program/default.aspx
Below are some links to help you prepare both for the interview and your resume.
These are employment agencies that can help you find a temporary or permanent job for a fee. Make sure you contact more than one to compare what they can offer and what they charge. Look in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under “Employment Agencies” or www.yellowpages.com
Other Job Information
To learn more about current job opportunities in HRM, visit:
Employment Assistance for Persons with Disabilities
TEAM Work Cooperative Ltd. connects companies that help with employment services to people with disabilities. Services include career counselling and a resource office to help you find a job.
WORKink is a website that gives employment services to people with disabilities. The website provides job search and career help, and resources on education and employment.
Apart from recruitment agencies and job sites, finding a job in Halifax involves networking with people in the community. This is a great way to meet new contacts and further explore the job market. Below is a quick list of helpful organizations:
If you are interested in starting your own business, there are many resources available to help you.
The Immigrant Business Development Services (IBDS) team at ISANS provides services and support to immigrants at all stages of business start-up and business development.
Their services include:
IBDS also creates connections with the business community and supports the contributions of immigrants. You will also find “Connections: A Business Start-Up Guide” helpful. Visit: www.isans.ca/business/business-resources or telephone: 902-423-3607
Running Your Business
When you have started your business, you will find helpful resources below.
The Halifax Partnership (HP)
The Halifax Partnership (HP) is the lead economic development organization for Halifax. Through the Smart Business Action Team, HP can connect you to over 30 business and government organizations, valuable information, and programs designed to help your business succeed. The Halifax Connector Program is a simple but effective referral process that helps immigrants, international students and young and emerging talent build a professional network, and connect with job opportunities to help them settle successfully in Halifax. Visit: www.halifaxpartnership.com or telephone: 902-490-6000
CDÉNÉ (Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse)
The CDÉNÉ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the economic well-being and quality of life of Acadians and francophones in Nova Scotia. TheBusiness Development and Entrepreneurship Services not only offers advice to entrepreneurs, but can assist with preparing business plans, feasability studies and marketing plans. It can provide information you need to manage your own business and to explore new ideas and business ventures. http://cdene.ns.ca/Services%C3%A0lemploi.aspx 902 424 7230
The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development Incorporated (CEED)
CEED is an organization devoted to helping people discover and use entrepreneurship as a way to become self-reliant. Their programs are for everyone, from at-risk youth to newly landed immigrants to retiring professionals. They work with communities both rural and urban, and aspiring and existing entrepreneurs of all ages. CEED programs include:
Halifax Shopping Centre
7001 Mumford Rd
Suite 107, Tower 1
Phone: 902.421.2333 Toll free: 1.800.590.8481
Employment Rights & Responsibilities
In Nova Scotia, the Labour Standards Code sets the standard for the employer-employee relationship. Both the workers and employers have rights and responsibilities under these rules. If workers or employers think the rules have been broken, they can file a complaint with the Labour Standards Division.
It is important to understand these rules when you are looking for a job, or when you want to hire employees for your own business.
The Code controls:
For a simple guide to the Code, Phone: 1-888-315-0110 (toll-free) or visit www.gov.ns.ca/lwd/employmentrights/docs/LabourStandardsCodeGuide.pdf
Did You Know?
In Nova Scotia there are two minimum wage rates: one for experienced employees and one for inexperienced employees. An experienced employee has done a kind of work for at least three months. An inexperienced employee has done a kind of work for less than three months. For more information telephone 902-424-4311 or 1-888-315-0110 (toll-free) Visit: www.gov.ns.ca/lwd/employmentrights/MinimumWage.asp
Minimum Wage Rate
A wage rate is the amount of money an employer pays an employee for each hour of work. In Nova Scotia, the General Minimum Wage Order sets minimum wage rates, which is the smallest amount of money an employer must pay an employee for each hour of work.
Human Rights Act
In the Nova Scotia it is against the law for anyone to discriminate because of age, race, colour, religion, creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, ethnicity, national or aboriginal origin, family or marital status, source of income or political belief, affiliation, or activity. These rights are protected by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. The Act also prohibits sexual harassment in all areas of public life.
Halifax has many fun ways to experience culture, heritage, recreation and many opportunities to get involved in the community. Volunteering in the community is highly valued and is a great way to meet new people, develop skills and give back to the community.
Culture and Heritage
There are numerous art galleries, libraries, theatres, museums and places of worship. There are also many free events taking place throughout the year for your family to enjoy. Whatever your preference, this section gives an overview of some of the Culture and Heritage opportunities Halifax has to offer and where to find more information:
Festivals and Fun
HRM residents come together regularly to celebrate events such as Canada Day, Bedford Days, and Natal Day. Then there are events which attract performers and spectators from around the world including the Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Halifax International Busker Festival, the Multicultural Festival and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.
For more information on Festivals and Events, call HRM’s 24-hour line at 902-490-6776 (ext. 2) or visit www.halifaxinfo.com for the most up-to-date information on what’s happening.
For information on large-scale events, please visit:
Every resident of Nova Scotia and Canada has the right to practice their religion, as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. An employee cannot be fired because of their religious beliefs.
Many religions and spiritual centres call HRM home, and there are a variety of places of worship. For more information, please look in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under “Churches” or “Religious organizations” www.yellowpages.com
There are many opportunities for youth to get involved in community and cultural activities, sports etc. There are also employments opportunities available each year through HRM Recreation (www.Halifax.ca/rec) Applications for summer job opportunities are usually open in February of each year.
Visit www.hrmyouth.ca. It’s a website for teenagers between 13 and 19 years old, which was designed by youth for youth in Halifax. The website is a place for youth events, programs, jobs, volunteering, teen health information and more.
On hrmyouth.ca, you can find:
For more information:
Youth Programs are offered for hundreds of immigrant youth at YMCA Immigrant Services, for more information call 902- 457-9622 or visit ymcahrm.ns.ca
Halifax has many of services for people of all ages, including seniors. Some programs are for people of all ages, and others are only for seniors.
Nova Scotia Department of Seniors
The Department of Seniors is provincial government agency that responds to seniors’ issues and concerns and provides information.
The toll-free information line allows seniors, family members and friends, to get help in accessing information dealing with government services and programs. They publish a guide called Programs for Positive Aging for seniors and their families.
The Department also provides important information and support and services related to Senior Abuse. You may call for help or talk about your concerns; all calls are kept confidential by law.
The website has details about different community Senior Safety Programs.
For more information:
Did You Know?
There are many places that have a senior day when you can get discount on products or services.
There are special things to help for seniors using public transit and there is a day when you can take the bus for free.
YMCA Halifax/Dartmouth offers a Senior Snow Removal Program. Call 902-483-3678 for more information.
Telephone 902-424-0065 , Toll-free: 1-800-670-0065 or go to www.novascotia.ca/seniors
The Positive Aging Directory is an excellent resource for seniors.
Senior Abuse Information and Referral Line: 1-877-833-337
Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Continuing Care Branch
The Continuing Care Branch of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness provides access to a range of home, community and Long Term Care services for seniors to live in their homes.
You can visit the Department of Health and Wellness website for more information on Continuing Care Services, or go online www.novascotia.ca/dhw/ccs/live-well-at-home.asp and call toll free, 1-800-225-7225.
HRM Volunteer Services offers a variety of training and workshops for volunteers and non-profit organizations. For more information, go online to www.halifax.ca/volunteerservices
Step Up to Leadership is a free 10 week course which was developed by volunteers for volunteers. The course covers a wide range of topics and is intended to help you develop leadership skills and build strong communities. It covers topics such as personality types, team work, group dynamics, effective meetings, conflict resolution and public speaking.
Volunteer Services can provide a list of non-profits in your area. You can look over the list and directly contact any group that interests you to see if they require volunteers. Some non-profits have listed volunteer jobs with us at http://www.halifax.ca/volunteerservices/opportunitieswithorgs1.html
Community & Recreation Services
Recreational activities can help you and your family stay healthy. For children and youth, participation leads directly to healthy development, as well as the development of many important values and life skills. Recreation also builds strong families and healthy communities while bridging understanding among diverse cultures.
Did you know?
Your local municipally owned recreation facility is a great place to meet new people and get involved in your community. With over 50 Community and Recreation Centres around HRM, recreation services offer a variety of recreation programs to youth, adults, and seniors. For a complete listing of recreation facilities including community centres, pools, fitness facilities, outdoor facilities and arenas, go to: http://www.halifax.ca/rec/ProgramsandActivities.php
Details on how to register for a program are located at http://www.halifax.ca/rec/ProgramsandActivities.php#Howtoregister
The YMCA offers programs and services for seniors and other adults. There are a variety of fitness classes and wellness sessions through the Active Living Program. For more information see ymcahrm.ns.ca or call 902-457-9622 .
Halifax Parks and Recreation is committed to providing safe and accessible programs for everyone to enjoy. Persons with disabilities are welcome to participate in recreation activities compatible to their interests and abilities. Persons with disabilities are asked to call their local recreation centre directly to schedule a meeting to discuss program supports. Deadline for inclusion requests is two weeks prior to program start date. Staff will make every effort to accommodate participants but may be limited based upon the number of requests in certain areas.
Recreation Program Catalogue
Program catalogues are available online at http://www.halifax.ca/rec/ProgramsandActivities.php, at Community Recreation Centres, and HRM libraries.
There are a number of public holidays observed in Canada. They can be found at: http://www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1266366005340
New Year's Day: Jan.1
Nova Scotia Heritage Day: Monday, Feb 16 (2015)
Good Friday: Occurs two days before Easter Sunday
Easter Monday: The day after Easter Sunday
Victoria Day: Monday following May 25
Canada Day: July 1
Natal Day in Nova Scotia: First Monday in August
Labour Day: First Monday in September
Thanksgiving Day: Second Monday of October
Remembrance Day: November 11
Christmas Day: December 25
Boxing Day: December 26