Money and finances

Managing your money and understanding tax and savings regulations can make a big difference to you and your family. If you want to buy a car or a house, and in many other situations, you will need a good credit rating in Canada.  There are many different ways to save money.  You should also make sure that you are claiming all the allowances you are entitled to as part of your income taxes.

For general information and Resources on:

You will need a bank account in Canada to deposit and cash paychecks.  Learn about the difference between banks and credit unions to find out what each of them offers, before you choose where to have a bank account.

Banks and Credit Unions in Canada charge a fee to customers who hold a bank account, and there are many charges on bank accounts in Canada that you may not expect.  Review the details of the different options on each account carefully and think about how you will use the account before you choose which one to open.

If you are not sure which account is the best for you, talk to someone at the bank who will go through how it all works.  A Financial Advisor at the bank can help you understand the different accounts available and will help you choose the best one for you.

To open a bank account, you’ll need photo ID and may have to make an appointment.

More information on the financial system in Canada:  

People use credit cards a lot in Canada.  This is how you build up your good credit rating which can affect you getting future loans.

Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are a way to postpone payment for items you purchase.  Each month you will receive a statement listing all the purchases you made during the last month.  Credit cards must be used wisely.  If you do not pay the total balance of your bill each month, you will be charged a much higher interest rate than if you got a loan from a bank.

If you use it well, a credit card is a good way to establish a good credit rating.   A good credit rating is usually needed for large purchases such as a car or a house, where you need a loan or a mortgage.

Most financial institutions can offer a credit card for newcomers to Canada.  These can often be linked to foreign accounts.

Major stores also may offer their own credit cards.  If you have many credit cards, it’s important to keep track of the amount owing on each card.  If you are not paying the balance of each card each month, it is easy to get into debt trouble quickly.

Online resourceCredit and credit cards

Income tax is collected from residents of Canada so that the government can provide programs and services such as healthcare, education, highways, and income assistance. You must file your taxes to make sure that you can get benefits from the government like the Working Income tax benefit, GST credit, Universal Childcare and Canada Child tax benefit.

If you are working, tax is usually taken off your pay by your employer, and your employer will give you a T4 slip in January or February every year.  Taxes must be completed and sent in to the government by April 30 each year.  Even if you have not made any money, it is important to send in (file) your taxes so that you get benefits you qualify for from the government.

Filing your Tax Return can be confusing.  You may wish to pay a small fee to have your taxes done by a professional bookkeeper or accountant who can make sure that you pay the least amount of tax necessary.

Every March and April, the Whistler Welcome Centre works with the Whistler Public Library and Whistler Community Services to provide tax return support for people with lower incomes. For details of tax clinics, check out the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.

It is important to keep information all year for your tax return.  Be sure to keep your T4 slips from your employer, T5 slips from your bank, donation receipts, child care expenses, and to keep track of other costs for your tax return.

You can file on your own online using purchased tax software such as UFile.  There is also free software available. For information on filing your taxes online (called NETFILE) and for free software options, please see:  NETFILE

Online resources
Mandatory Insurance Coverage: 

Most people don’t have the money to pay for the losses (property damage, injury, death) they might cause while driving, so governments require vehicle owners to buy a certain amount of insurance to cover any losses they might cause others to suffer (Liability).  In BC, you must purchase your mandatory auto insurance (Autoplan) from the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC).  See: http://www.icbc.com/for a list of local brokers.

ICBC office Whistler location:

Westland Insurance (above McDonald’s)
232 – 4370 Lorimer Rd. 
Whistler V0N 1B4
604-932-5814         

Optional Car Insurance Coverage: 

You can buy this Optional insurance from ICBC, but it can often be much cheaper if purchased from another vendor, such as Canadian Direct.  See: canadiandirect.com

Home and Tenant Insurance

Home insurance protects you from having to pay out a huge amount in damage such as a fire, theft, flood, etc. Even if you rent, your belongings will not be covered by your landlord’s property insurance and you should buy your own in case your belongings are damaged.

Also, as a tenant, you are legally responsible for any damage you cause to any part of your building and for unintentional harm caused to others who live in or visit the property.  Tenant insurance protects you from having to cover these costs out of your own pocket. For more information on tenant insurance, click here.

Home and Tenant insurance can be purchased through private insurance companies.  Ask the provider of your other insurance (such as vehicle) as there is often a discount if you buy more than one policy with a company.

Health Insurance

In BC, you purchase Health Insurance from the government.  You can also purchase additional insurance from private companies through your employer’s plans, or personally to cover those areas aren’t covered by provincial MSP.   See the Health section for more information.

Life Insurance

Some people choose to purchase Life Insurance to provide for their families in case of death.  This insurance can be purchased through financial institutions and private insurance agents.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is very useful if you are travelling to other countries for vacation or work.  Medical costs and trip interruption and cancellation can incur major costs in other countries, and travel insurance is relatively inexpensive.  Travel insurance is sometimes provided by your credit card, and is also available for purchase from private Insurance companies.

Only some medical expenses are covered when you are in another province. If you need to be seen by a doctor or visit a hospital emergency department, then your home province (where you have MSP) will pay for those services.  But any extras are not included, so it is recommended that you obtain private supplementary health insurance for non-physician, non-hospital and uninsured services when you are traveling within Canada.

Mortgage Insurance

If you have a mortgage on your home, would you or your family be able to make the payments if you lost your job or died?  That is what mortgage insurance is for.  You can also purchase this insurance through your financial institution and private insurance agents.

Bank Account

Opening a Savings account at a bank is a way to store your money safely.  There are also term deposits and other products which may pay higher interest on savings.  Ask at your bank.  In Canada you may be required to pay income tax on interest earned.

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP)

RRSPs are a great way to save money for retirement.  You do not pay tax on these savings until you take the money out when you retire from working.  RRSP’s are offered by banks and other financial companies.   If you need to take money out of your RRSP before you retire, you will be taxed on this money.

For more information, see: government website regarding RRSP or speak with your financial representative or your mortgage holder.

Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP)

RESPs are a way to save money for your children’s post-secondary education in future.  RESP’s offer compound interest and are offered by banks and other financial companies.

For information on how RESPs work and to find the best RESP for you needs, see the Canadian Government’s CanLearn website:  CanLearn – Education Savings for Your Child

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)

Unlike regular bank accounts, money invested in a TFSA is not taxable, and can be invested in a number of ways.  In Canada the amount you can save in a TFSA each year can change, so check with your bank.  If you need to take your money out of your TFSA, you pay tax at the time of withdrawal.  TFSA’s are offered by banks and other financial companies.

There are five banks or credit unions where you can open a bank account in Whistler:

RBC – Royal Bank of Canada: 101-4000 Whistler Way, in the Village 604-938-5800

TD Canada Trust: 38-4370 Lorimer Road, in the Marketplace 604-905-5500

Blue Shores Credit Union: 101-4321 Village Gate Boulevard, in the Village 604-982-8000

Scotiabank: 2059 Lake Placid Rd, in Creekside 604-966-3232

CIBC: 4338 Main Street, Unit 102, in the Village 604-966-0200

BlueShore Financial – 7438 Prospect Street #2, 604-982-8000

Scotiabank – 7433 Prospect Street, 604-894-1050

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A Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions with a 100 dollar banknote and dollar coins.

Have a Question?

Contact our Settlement Worker
or drop in to the Welcome Centre at the Whistler Public Library

Monday 3 – 6 p.m and Friday 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

WHISTLER WELCOME CENTRE

A helpful, friendly and practical service that will support you while you adjust to your new life in Canada. Welcome Centre services are for eligible clients and are free of charge.

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