Settle in Brandon

  • First steps
  • Settlement Services
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Family Resources
  • Banking & Finance
  • Citizenship
  • Taxes
  • Refugee Support

After you arrive in Canada it’s important for you to follow the steps pointed below as soon as possible to get you settled in Brandon.

  • Learn how to get around in Brandon: Refer to the Transportation section to learn about the different forms of transportation in Brandon.
  • Visit the Westman Immigrant Services Office: Visit this organization to learn how they can help you settle in Brandon. Refer to the Settlement Services section.
  • Get a SIN Card: To work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card. Refer to the Settlement Services section.
  • Get a health Card: Allows you to see a doctor, get prescription medicine, visit a hospital emergency room or use most other health services. Refer to the Health section.
  • Open a bank account: For information on opening a bank account and other financial matters, read the Financial section.
  • Apply for benefits: Payments provided by the Canadian Government to individuals or families in order to assist with living costs. Refer to the Financial section.
  • Find a Family Doctor or Clinic: Family doctors take care of most medical problems. Refer to the Health section.
  • Purchase a personal health plan/health insurance: If you are a newcomer to Canada, it is a good idea to purchase private health insurance for the 3 months that you are not covered by Manitoba Health Care. Refer to the Health section.
  • Find housing: Learn about the different resources to rent in Brandon. Refer to the Housing section.

Westman Immigrant Services

What are immigrant services and why as a newcomer to Canada one of the first things you should do is visit them? You can find them in most cities and they provide free services to immigrants and newcomers. They are excellent sources of information and advice on living in Canada, and they can guide you in the right direction.

In Brandon you can visit Westman Immigrant Services, in order to:

  • Learn about living in the community
  • Find out about services in the community and how to access them (health care, education, banking, legal, daily living, housing)
  • Fill out forms and complete documents (Manitoba Health Card, SIN, child tax benefits, travel documents, Citizenship)
  • Understand immigration issues and applications
  • Access free English classes (ESL)
  • Find employment and prepare for a job
  • Hire interpreters 

On your first visit make sure you have: 

  • Your passport
  • A permanent resident card (or letter of confirmation of permanent residence) or landed immigrant papers.

SIN Card

To work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card.

If you are a permanent resident, you can apply for a SIN card at any Service Canada Centre office or visit a Settlement Facilitator at Westman Immigrant Services to help you fill out the forms.

For information on the required documents you need to provide to apply, click here.

Public Transportation

If you are riding a Brandon Bus, having a "Smart Card" is advised since it makes it easier to pay for fare. All you have to do is tap your card on the fare reader in front of the driver. To see fare prices, how to get a smart card, and the routes map and schedule to get to your destination, click here. 

Brandon Transit also offers a  Handi-Transit Service for passengers with disabilities who cannot use the regular Transit service. 

Shuttle Services 

Brandon Air Shuttle provides ground transportation daily between Brandon and Winnipeg for pre-booked flights, and medical appointments. You can make reservations online.

Taxi Services

There are several taxi companies in the city, all you need to do is call one to request a taxi to your location. You can pay with cash, debit or credit card.

Manitoba Health Care

Canada’s universal health care system is delivered through a system of provincial and territorial publicly funded health care. In Brandon, this health care is handled by the province of Manitoba under the Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan (MHSIP).

It is important to apply for health insurance immediately when you arrive in Manitoba. If you are eligible, coverage will begin on the first day of the third month after your arrival in Manitoba. You are eligible for Manitoba health care coverage if:

  • You are a Canadian citizen
  • You are a permanent resident
  • You have a work permit valid for at least 12 months in Manitoba

Manitoba Health Card

A Manitoba health card allows you to see a doctor, get prescription medicine, visit a hospital emergency room or use most other health services.

To apply for one, you have to download and fill out the registration form, once completed you can fax, mail or email it to the Registration and Client Services Office in Winnipeg. 

Fax:  204-783-2171
Email: insuredben@gov.mb.ca
Mail: 300 Carlton St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3M9

You can also visit a Settlement Facilitator at Westman Immigrant Services in Brandon to help you fill out the form, or visit the Manitoba Provincial Building to get it right away. 

Pharmacare

As a Manitoba resident, you have access to prescription drug coverage through  Manitoba Pharmacare if your income is seriously affected by high prescription drug costs. To access this program you need to apply for it. You can visit Westman Immigrant Services to ask for assistance to apply. 

You qualify for the Manitoba Pharmacare program if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are eligible for Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living coverage.
  • Your prescriptions are not covered by other provincial or federal programs.

Clinics

Medical Clinics

Whenever you feel sick, the first step is to visit your doctor or any walk-in-clinic. A walk-in clinic is a medical facility that accepts patients on a walk-in basis and with no appointment required. Some family doctors also have walk-in clinic services. In case of an emergency, go directly to the hospital. Whether you visit the doctor or the hospital, you will need to take your Manitoba Health Card with you.

Family doctors take care of:

  • Most medical concerns
  • Family planning

If you think you need to see a specialist (a specialist is a medical doctor who is an expert in a specific area of medicine), you must talk to your family doctor first and ask for a referral. 

To find a medical clinic you can use the online family doctor finder or see the list below and call to ask if they are accepting new patients:

Dental Clinics

The cost of dental care is not covered under the Manitoba Health Care System. If your workplace doesn’t provide you with dental coverage benefits, you need to purchase a health plan, otherwise you will have to pay a significant amount of money for dental services. For more information, you can refer to the Health Insurance section on this website.

To find a Dental Clinic, see list below:

Eye Care

Eye care is only partially covered by the Manitoba Health Care System. People up to the age of 18 and over the age of 65 can receive a free eye examination from an optometrist every two years.

For the rest of people, the cost of eye care is not covered under the Manitoba Health Care System. If your workplace doesn’t provide you with vision coverage benefits, you need to purchase a health plan, otherwise you will have to pay a significant amount of money for services. For more information, you can refer to the Health Insurance section on this website.

To find an optometrist, see list below:

Health Insurance

Though your Manitoba health coverage does include fundamental medical benefits, there are significant restrictions that apply. In the end, you won't be covered for a number of important medical services, such as: vision, dental, travel, accidents, practitioners, and counselling. That's why we advise you to purchase a personal health plan in case your workplace doesn't provide you with one.

If you are a newcomer to Canada, it is a good idea to purchase private health insurance for the 3 months that you are not covered by Manitoba Health Care. When selecting a health plan, you need to assess your healthcare needs, review the options, crunch the numbers and choose the plan that makes the most sense for your finances and your health.

To find a private health insurance company, you can use the OmbudService Insurance Finder

International students

International students studying in Manitoba are not eligible for health insurance coverage through Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living (MHSAL) but are required to be covered under the Manitoba International Student Health Plan (MISHP). This plan covers basic medically necessary services, such as:

  • Physician/Surgeon
  • X-Rays/ Lab testing
  • Prescription drugs
  • Hospital services

Brandon University students are covered by the Manitoba International Students Health Plan, and their Student Union Health Plan

Assiniboine Community College students are covered by their Student Association Health Plan.

Mental Health

Adult Community Mental Health If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health problems, you can call the Access Worker at ACMH to start the treating process.

Services may include:

  • mental health promotion
  • learning about medication and illness    
  • brief therapy
  • long term therapy
  • help getting back into the community

7th Street Health Access Centre has a Community Mental Health Worker, who Provides assessment, treatment planning, counselling and referrals to people dealing with mental health issues. 

Kids Help Phone is a free service available to people ages 20 and under across Canada. Services include phone and text support counseling 24/7. 
Phone: 1-800-668-6868

The Women’s Resource Centre provides many supportive services and also offers a resource guide for individuals in Westman who have been sexually assaulted. This guide includes information on reporting, medical examinations, counselling, support resources, and other important information for a healing journey. 

The Men's Resource Centre of Brandon offers a safe and supportive space for men and their families to access resources and information. The centre provides many supportive services and also offers programs, such as anger management, building healthy relationships, & developing positive life skills. 

Wellness Together Canada connects you to mental health and substance use support, resources, and counselling with a mental health professional. 

  • Accessible 24/7
  • No fees
  • For everyone

Sexual Health

The Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) provides inclusive, non-judgmental education about sexuality. They provide a variety of resources on sexual and reproductive health, as well as workshops for you to access. 

The Manitoba HIV Program Clinic at the 7th Street Health Access Centre provides specialized care as part of the Manitoba HIV Program including ongoing care, treatment, support and information to clients living with HIV. Newly diagnosed patients and transfer of care from within Manitoba as well as other provinces/countries are welcomed. 

For a list of clinics where you can get tested for STIs, HIV and hepatitis, click here

The Pregnancy Support Centre offers free pregnancy tests, and helps women and families who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy.

Renting

This booklet by New Journey Housing covers all information about finding a home to rent, the process or steps you have to follow, and all the rules about living in a rental home in Manitoba.

There are many places where you can search for places to rent or lease, the following sites are some examples, but you are encouraged to do your own research to make sure you find something appropriate for your needs:

Buying

There is a homebuyer assistance program available in Brandon, for the full details of the program click here.

This booklet by New Journey Housing covers all information about buying a home in Manitoba.

To search for house listings click here

If you are looking for Mobile homes parks, see list below:

Student Housing

Brandon University has three different residences on campus, and also accepts students from Assiniboine Community College. Students need to apply to secure a space.

  • Darrach Hall: men’s-only facility
  • Flora Cowan Hall: women’s-only facility
  • Mcmaster Hall: all-gender residence

The Brandon University Students’ Union through Places4Students Inc website provides a database for student housing vacancies in Brandon, and different housing resources in the city. 

Personal Care Housing

Personal Care Homes are residential care facilities for persons who need additional support. For Personal Care Homes in Brandon, see list below:

Senior Housing

When looking for a home, you have to keep in mind: 

  • The amenities you need access to (parking, in unit or building laundry facilities, elevator)
  • Whether you have accessibility needs
  • If public transport stops are nearby
  • If grocery stores, parks or exercising facilities are within a walking distance

If you are looking for senior independent living accommodations in Brandon, click here. You will be able to compare all facilities according to the services and amenities they offer (example: meals provided, libraries, craft or activities room), the lease type, and the amount of bedrooms. 

Parenting Support

There are a number of resources in Brandon to assist you with parenting:

The Pregnancy Support Center of Westman offers:

  • Free online parenting and prenatal classes (For both moms & dads) to help you through the journey of pregnancy, parenting, life skills, and more 
  • Free pregnancy tests
  • Client support
  • Free maternity and baby items such as diapers, formula, and clothing

CFS of Western Manitoba offers a wide range of community support and programs to help parents such as:

  • Programs for newcomer Canadians and their families including literacy and support groups
  • In-home family support
  • Life skills programs such as cooking and sewing

In A Good Way Family Resource Centre offers prenatal classes, postnatal classes, preschool preparation programs, a monthly child clinic, breastfeeding and parenting preparation, labour and birthing preparation, and more. 

Child Care 

If you are working and have young children, you may need to make arrangements for child care. There are different options: licensed daycare centres, nursery schools, “drop-in” daycare centres and home based daycare services. 

Parents in Manitoba can access an online childcare search tool to gather information about licensed childcare services that will meet their needs, including information on locations and the availability of spaces. 

Manitoba also has a centralized online child care registry you can use to place your child on a licensed child care facility's wait list.

Family Benefits

Benefits are payments provided by the Canadian Government to individuals or families in order to assist with living costs. Permanent Residents can get assistance from Westman Immigrant Services to apply for these benefits. 

Canada Child Benefit (CCB): Tax-free monthly payment to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age.

The Child Disability Benefit: Tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.

Banking

If you are looking to open a bank account, you can access an online tool to compare features for different chequing and savings accounts, including interest rates, monthly fees and transactions to find an account that best suits your needs.

To open an account, go to the bank of your choice. It doesn't matter if you don't have a job or if you don't have any money to deposit right away. 

Your bank will need to see 2 pieces of ID, which can be: 

  • SIN card
  • Permanent resident card
  • Driver's licence issued in Canada
  • Passport

Resources

If you are new to the Canadian banking system, you can access a government learning program that provides basic information and tools on financial literacy. Get basic information on banking, taxes, mortgages, insurance, and more. 

CF Manitoba offers a handbook in different formats that explains how to earn, spend, save, invest, borrow money and much more.

The Financial Literacy Resource website provides Manitobans with an inventory of existing financial literacy programs and services from various Manitoba organizations to give you skills, knowledge, and confidence to make sound personal financial choices.

Financial Assistance

The Government Of Canada provides Benefits which are payments to individuals or families in order to assist with living costs:

GST/HST Tax Benefit: In Canada, prices do not include taxes. If you buy something, a GST/HST tax will be added to the price when you pay. To reduce this cost, you can apply for the GST/HST credit, which is a quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low and modest incomes. 

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible seniors living in Canada who receive OAS and who have little or no other income. The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly payment that is available to most people aged 65 older.

You can visit a Settlement Facilitator at Westman Immigrant Services in Brandon to help you apply for benefits. 

Resources

Citizenship Counts: Provides information on the benefits of becoming a Canadian citizen, how to apply and resources to help you study for the citizenship test. 

Citizenship Study Materials for Newcomers to Manitoba (2011):  A guidebook for newcomers in Manitoba who are preparing to take the citizenship exam.

Westman Immigrant Services help individuals and families to fill out forms and complete documents to apply. 

Test Preparation Classes

Westman Immigrant Services offers classes to help residents to prepare for the citizenship test.  

The Immigrant Centre Manitoba offers citizenship classes. This is a 6-week course for Permanent Residents who have already applied for citizenship. You need to register as an IC Manitoba client.

 

Resources

The government provides an online course so you can learn and understand the basics about the Canadian tax system.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides a guide for first time tax filers in Canada. 

Filing a tax return

You have to file a return if:

  • you are a resident of Canada for tax purposes (Canadian citizen, permanent resident, refugee, temporary residents) and you owe tax or want to receive a refund.
  • you want to apply or continue to receive the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit or Child Tax Benefit.

There are different ways to file your tax return:

  • File with a Tax Preparation Office

Private firms offer year round service, however typically there is a cost for service. You can find offices in Brandon by clicking here.

  • Find a free program

At the  7th Street Health Access Centre you can get your taxes prepared by a volunteer and filed electronically to Revenue Canada by the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). This service is free for families with an income less than $35,000. 

Get help at a free tax clinic: If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers at a free tax clinic may be able to complete your tax return for you.

  • File the tax return by yourself 

You can do the process yourself but it is not recommended if unaware of the Canadian Tax System. If you decide to file your own return, make sure to review the information available at the CRA’s website.

To help complete your tax return, you should bring the following:

  • All tax slips (T3, T4, other)
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Personal identification: photo ID is preferred
  • Rent payment information
  • Common law or married couples will need to come together

After filing a tax return

After you file your tax return the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will review the information you submitted and confirm the calculations are correct. They may compare your return with information received from third parties, such as your employers and financial institutions.

If you are owed a refund, you will get a direct deposit into your bank account or a cheque will be mailed to you. 

If you owe a balance, usually you must pay this by April 30. If you do not pay your balance on time, you will be charged interest. The CRA's website has more information about how to make a payment.

The Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) provides limited, temporary coverage of health-care benefits for specific groups of people in Canada who don’t have provincial, territorial, or private health-care coverage.

The Government of Canada has several programs to help refugees resettle in Canada.

Westman Immigrant Services is a not-for-profit organization that provides the following services and programs to immigrants and refugees in the Brandon and Westman area:

  • Settlement 
  • Employment 
  • ESL Classes
  • Interpreters
  • Volunteering
  • Settlement Workers in Schools
  • Resettlement Assistant Program

Legal Aid Manitoba provides a range of legal services to eligible applicants trying to remain in Canada as a refugee or as an immigrant. Services include:

  • Seeking refugee status
  • Opposing deportation
  • Opposing removal orders

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