Technology & Telecommunications
Most Canadian telephone numbers have 10 digits (for example, 123-456-7890). The first three digits are the “area code” and the seven remaining digits are the number itself. Each region in Canada has a different area code with three digits.
- Local telephone calls:
A local call is a call to a number within the same city or rural district. To make a local call in most regions of Canada, you simply dial the 10 digit number (area code + number). In certain regions, you only dial the last seven digits of the number (without the area code).
- Long-distance telephone calls (within Canada and the United States): A long distance call is a call to a number that is outside your city or rural district. Any call outside your geographical area is a long distance call, even if the number shares the same area code as yours. To make a long distance call to a number in Canada, dial 1 + area code + number.
- Long-distance telephone calls (international): When making an international call, you need to dial 011 (this is the “exit code”) + the country code + the area code + the number. You can find country codes and area codes for regions within other countries in the first pages of the telephone book, by dialing “0” for the telephone operator or searching on the Internet.
- Free calls (or “toll-free” calls): Any number that begins with 1-800, 1-866, 1-877 or 1-888 means that you will not be charged for calling that number. Simply dial all the digits (including the “1”).
The Internet is a useful tool of everyday life for most Canadians. For example, many people in Canada use the Internet to search and apply for jobs, do their banking, learn about and purchase many different products, and read the news.
The Internet is provided free to patrons, at public expense, at most public libraries. For a list of libraries in your city or town, consult the Blue Pages, search the Internet or contact a municipal government information centre. Alternatively, you can pay to use the Internet at an Internet café where you will be charged based on how long you stay online.
Internet users, especially parents, should be aware of the presence of offensive, obscene and illegal content that is easily available on the Internet. It may be prudent to install software to block such content or to supervise children’s Internet use to protect them from immoral and potentially criminal material.
There are two main types of telephone service in Canada:
- Fixed line telephones (“home phones” or “land lines”); and
- Cell phones.
It is possible to get home telephone service almost anywhere in Canada. Cell phone service is available in all major urban regions and the more populated rural areas as well. To obtain either type of telephone service, contact a private telephone company in your area. Most companies offer both fixed and cellular services, but some offer only one or the other.
Depending on your country of origin, you may find that the cost of cell phone service in Canada is quite high. However, there are many different types of fixed and cell phone “plans” available depending on your needs and how much you want to pay per month. Special plans are available for people who make many long-distance calls (within Canada or internationally). Certain plans require you to agree to a long-term contract in exchange for cheaper service. Always find out the financial penalties for ending the service contract early and do not make any long-term commitments that you may not be able to keep. The federal government’s Office of Consumer Affairs has published a useful guide to answer common questions and help consumers make informed decisions. This guide is available at www.ic.gc.ca/ consumer.
It is also possible to just buy a cell phone and use prepaid calling cards that are available at convenience stores and stores that sell cell phones. This means that you do not need a “plan” and there is no service contract involved. As a newcomer, this is a quick and easy way of getting access to a cell phone.
When you sign up for a home or cell phone plan, you will generally need to provide two pieces of identification of your choice (for example, permanent resident card, driver’s licence, passport, etc.). You might also be asked to agree to a credit check or to provide proof of employment. If you have no credit history or job, explain that you are a new immigrant and ask what options are available for someone in your situation.
Canada Post, a division of the federal government, is responsible for postal services in Canada. Through Canada Post, you can send and receive mail and parcels to and from anywhere in the world. For information on the many services and products offered by Canada Post, consult www.canadapost.ca or visit any post office in your city or town. Post office addresses are provided on the website. In smaller towns and rural areas, the local Canada Post office is often a useful source of general information and a popular place in the community.
In Canada, there are also private “express shipping” companies that offer delivery of small packages within Canada and across the world. In addition, there are “freight” companies that you can pay to transport larger volumes of goods between locations in Canada and between Canada and other countries.