Ready, Set, Alberta | Must-Knows Before You Pack Your Bags!

Ready, Set, Alberta | Must-Knows Before You Pack Your Bags!

Samuel Francis Gills Published:
February 11, 2024

Alberta, a part of Western Canada, is flanked by British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east. One of its standout features is the prevalent outdoor activity culture and the striking natural beauty that it boasts. Alberta has a substantial immigrant population, with approximately one million newcomers having established themselves in the province. Most of these individuals choose to reside in the major Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge.

The province boasts elevated income levels compared to the rest of Canada. As per the Government of Alberta, it provides the highest median after-tax income nationwide. Consequently, families in Alberta typically experience a superior family income compared to those in other regions of Canada.

For those considering a move to Alberta or seeking more information about life in the province, this article will delve into subjects such as housing, healthcare, and taxation.

 

Housing

Alberta, the fourth most populous province in Canada with over 4.6 million residents, sees many newcomers opting for the rental market when seeking accommodation.

As of August 2023, the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Calgary stood at $1,728, while in Edmonton, it was $1,279. In Lethbridge, the average for a one-bedroom unit was $1,181. Several provincial resources, such as the Government of Alberta’s Digital Service and Affordable Housing Resources, can aid individuals in finding suitable housing.

Commuting

A significant proportion, at least 71%, of residents in Alberta's three largest Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) live within 500 meters of a "public transit access point," facilitating easy access to buses or other public transportation. Both Calgary and Edmonton have train transit systems serving their communities. In Calgary, more than 40,600 people utilize public transportation, while in Edmonton, the number exceeds 33,000.

Calgary Transit, Edmonton Transit Service, and Lethbridge Transit operate their fleets of buses, trains, and other transportation modes to meet the commuting needs of their respective communities. Despite the availability of public transit, the majority of residents in Alberta's three largest CMAs still rely on personal vehicles for commuting. Consequently, obtaining an Alberta Driver’s License may be advisable.

During the initial 90 days as an Alberta resident, you can use your foreign driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. However, after this peri od, you must apply for and obtain an Alberta driver’s license to continue driving.

 

Employment

In Alberta, the primary industries by employment are trade occupations, healthcare and social assistance, and construction.

The trades industry, encompassing wholesale and retail trade professions, employs over 345,000 individuals in Alberta. The healthcare and social assistance sector, responsible for the well-being of the community in terms of physical, mental, and social health, provides jobs for more than 232,000 residents. Additionally, Alberta's construction sector, vital for building essential infrastructure, employs over 178,000 people.

For assistance in finding employment opportunities in Alberta, individuals can explore various provincial resources.

Healthcare

In Alberta, newcomers to the province face a three-month waiting period before gaining access to public healthcare coverage. After this period, individuals settling in Alberta can receive free healthcare by obtaining a valid provincial health card. To obtain a provincial health card in Alberta, applicants must submit an application along with supporting documents verifying their residency, identity, and legal entitlement to remain in Canada.

While a valid health card across Canada provides access to public health services without direct payment, each province has its healthcare system determining the coverage offered. Some medications and treatments may require out-of-pocket payments.

Education

Children of newcomers in Alberta enter the provincial education system at the age of six, and mandatory education continues until high school graduation. The public school system in Alberta provides free education from kindergarten to high school. Alternatively, for parents opting for private or boarding schools, tuition payments are required.

The provincial government has a webpage detailing the provincial curriculum from kindergarten to grade 12. In terms of post-secondary education, Alberta has over 150 Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) for newcomers. Many of these DLIs offer programs eligible for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), allowing non-permanent resident Canadian newcomers to work in Canada upon graduating from an eligible program.

Taxation

The primary taxes in Alberta are sales and income tax. Residents are subject to a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) sales tax, while most other provinces impose either GST or a combination of sales taxes exceeding 10%.

Similar to other provinces, Alberta levies income tax based on a bracketed system, requiring residents to pay a specified amount to the government based on their annual income level.

Check if you qualify to migrate to Canada. Check out Owlspriority Immigration’s Canada Settlement Resources to learn about finding employment in Canada, making your initial days stress-free, etc.

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