Moving to any country raises a number of questions for any expat. The vagaries of the UK’s health and social security system are complicated enough to navigate. If you’re thinking of relocating to Canada, it’s a good idea to learn a little about the country’s welfare and health procedures before you leave Blighty.
Registering for Social Security in Canada
Anyone who works in Canada will find that a proportion of their earnings is deducted to pay for the country’s health and welfare system. The first thing to bear in mind is that Canada is divided into separate provinces, and each of these has different rules about contribution rates. You must have a nine digit Social Security number before you’ll be eligible to work in Canada. This is similar to the UK’s National Insurance number.
In Sickness and In Health
In common with the UK, Canada does have a public healthcare system, but according to the Canadian government website, ‘government health insurance plans give you access to basic medical services. You may need private insurance to pay for things that government plans do not fully cover.’ In other words, once you receive your health insurance card, don’t expect the type of comprehensive care that you receive under the NHS. It’s a good idea to apply for some form of private health insurance to complement the public scheme.
Caring for Children
Bringing up a family is always expensive. Under Canadian law children under six may be eligible for Universal Child Care Benefit. Expect to receive around $100 a month from this benefit, which is payable, dependent on eligibility, a month after the birth of the child. Child Tax Benefit is means tested. If your family is on a low income, then apply for this.
The Fitness Tax Credit is available for all families and recently the Canadian government pledged to extend this credit to adults as well as children. It's designed to allow taxpayers to claim back up to $500 as a result of any expenditure on fitness or keep fit programmes.
Insurance for the Unemployed
Anyone who has worked in Canada and paid their Social Security contributions is eligible for employment insurance. This benefit is only temporary and it's more complex than in the UK. It’s a good idea to carry out research here to find out more about Employment Insurance.
Benefits aren’t always the first issue that expats think about, but sickness and unemployment are a fact of life, so it’s better to be informed before you move.