Friday, July 13, 2012

Immigration Challenges - Currency Confusion

This post is a guest blog post written by May Tartoussy (see bio below). May is sharing some of her challenges during her first year in Canada coming from Dubai:

If you lived in Dubai prior to coming to Canada you most probably have enjoyed the bliss of spending with minimum worry. Not wanting to generalize but chances are that you have. Of course having lived in Dubai doesn’t mean that you are not disciplined but here I would like to share my learning when it comes to currency conversion and how it was very confusing switching from the Dirham to the Dollar mentally. What worked and what did not work.

Moving from Dubai to Canada is a huge step and you will deal with a lot of changes and shocks, yes shocks because what you see on the surface is not it. These are just initial and first impressions. One of the things you will deal with is the currency conversion confusion. Of course you know and I know that $1 equals AED 3.5 but it will take you time to be able to deal with the dollar as a dollar not as a dirham. By the time you get to learn and understand the currency and its value you would spend much more money than you should. Chances are that you will come to Canada looking for a job which means you are using your own savings.

When I first came here December 2010, I was comparing everything to Dubai, starting with the roads to the malls, to the services (which I found horrible and doesn’t measure to 30% of the quality service that we used to get in Dubai), the only thing that I could not really compare was the currency. Although mentally I know that $10 is equivalent to AED 35 but when it comes to shopping, spending the $10 dollar felt like AED 10 so go figure the spending that I made according to that impression. 

Starting from taking cabs paying $60 so I don’t have to get my head around the transit system to silly grocery items that I really didn’t need paying $100-150 that felt like paying AED 100-150. And no matter what I did, whether it was do the actual conversion, to put it on paper it didn’t feel like I was spending in dollars and I guess the reason behind that was the fact that I was using my own money which in my head was always in Dirhams. I did not need to spend more than $3000 a month to live decently in Toronto but I ended up spending more than $6000 again that was bleeding on my savings. Do I need to say that I used to raise my eye brow when people around me change their buying decision for (a few bucks and sometimes for a buck). 

This confusion did not end until I asked around me to figure out the average salary for someone in my career level who is new to Canada and then I limited myself to that (actually a little less). I.e. creating a scenario for myself that I am getting paid this amount of money in Dollars per month. Then gradually I started to understand the value of money the Canadian way. One day I found myself appalled when I had to pay for the pop corn $7 rather than $3.50 before doing that trick, the difference in prices, discounts, offers, sales didn’t mean anything to me. And I’m not talking about pop corn of course; it applied to anything and everything. The money value, sales, offers, expensive, less expensive is nothing for us but it is huge for Canadians.. And I only got after applying that trick. I started to see it exactly like how they see it.

My advice whether you are financially stable or not, make an effort to understand the spending according to the dollar it will make a whole lot difference than keeping the dirham perspective. The quicker you get around this issue the better because this understanding will cascade down on the entire Canadian context. i.e the market, salaries, how life works here in terms of earning and spending etc... which means faster integration. Isn’t that what you need to do anyway??

Good luck and thanks for reading.


About May

May Tartoussy is the Marketing Manager at IQS Canada with responsibility to building awareness of the brand in GTA and Canada. Prior to joining IQS Canada, May served as Marketing Assistant Manager in Dubai Holding, the Dubai government conglomerate that owns many high profile developments and investments in Dubai and around the world.

May immigrated to Canada in December 2010 and has already become an active member contributing to the community in Toronto by volunteering in organizations and groups such as TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival) and the Social Media Café Toronto


Friday, May 25, 2012

Employment Status Options in Canada

Different employment arrangements are becoming more and more common. While many people still prefer to be an employee of a company, others prefer to be self-employed and act as an independent contractor.  Our hope is that the information provided will help you clarify the characteristics and differences of each method, while helping you determine the option that best suits you.


If you are a full-time or part-time employee, your employer - by law - must:
  • Withhold income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) contributions (if applicable), and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums on amounts paid to you
  • Remit the amounts withheld as well as the required employer's share of the CPP/QPP (Quebec Pension Plan) contributions and EI premiums to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Report your income and deductions on the appropriate information return
  • Give you copies of your T4 slips by the end of February of the following calendar year
  • Pay for statutory holidays and vacation time

Independent Contractor

If you have decided to become an Independent Contractor, there are two methods to consider.

Sole Proprietorships

A sole proprietorship is defined as a business owned and operated by one individual.
  • It is not considered to be a legal entity under the law, but rather an extension of the individual who owns it.
  • It does not require any specific legal organization, apart from the normal requirements such as licenses, registration information and permits.
  • The owner has possession of the business assets and is directly responsible for the debts and liabilities incurred by the business.
  • Any loans made to the proprietorship are tantamount to personal loans to the individual.
  • This is known as unlimited liability.
  • The income or loss of a sole proprietorship is combined with the other earnings of the individual for income tax purposes.
  • If the sole proprietor secures work through another firm, the sole proprietor is responsible for submitting their income tax documentation - not the firm.
  • You are responsible for remitting your own employee and employer deductions as well as sourcing and financing your own benefits.
  • Your customers are not required to pay for statutory holidays or vacation time. It is up to you to work all of these costs into your bill rate.

Incorporated Independent Contractor 

A corporation is defined as a separate legal entity, and exists under the authority granted by either Provincial or Federal law. A corporation has all of the legal rights of an individual and is responsible for its debts. It must also file income tax returns and pay taxes on income it derives from its operations. In most cases, the owners and shareholders of a corporation are protected from the liabilities of the business.

  • Corporations must file annual income tax returns with the Canada Revenue Agency (Federal) and the Ministry of Finance (Provincial).
  • The legal fees involved in becoming an incorporated independent contractor may vary, but they involve legal fees for start-up, government fees (depending on the province in which you do business) and, if the contractor so chooses, maintenance fees.
  • You are responsible for remitting your own employee and employer deductions as well as sourcing and financing your own benefits.
  • Your customers are not required to pay for statutory holidays or vacation time. It is up to you to work all of these costs into your bill rate
Hope that helps Nabil

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Leather Bags and Backpacks?

Hey everyone ... I'm sure you're wondering what this blog has to do with leather bags , leather backpacks , and Leather Rucksack... well,  this is the interesting part :)

Now after I've been in Canada for 5+ years ... and I'm settled with stable job and good network, I decided to start a new venture in my journey.

So I've launched an online store where I sell Handmade cool stylish leather bags and backpacks ... and I called it I import the bags from handmade leather workshops in Spain and I sell them here in North America (Canada and USA), it's a huge market!

I'm sharing this with you for few reasons:

  1. To bring to your attention that Canada is FULL of opportunities ... if you got creative ... other than employment.
  2. When you first come to Canada and you have some experience in some niche start leverage this experience while doing your job search ... you may end up making more money than employment.
  3. and finally to get your feedback on the site :) so please leave your comments below ... your opinion is so helpful :)
Thanks guys ... wish me luck in my new venture!

[Update] mochilas de cuero is a leather backpack in Spanish. It turned out there is a big market in Spain.

[Update April 8, 2013]

For those who are interested in establishing an online story, here is a list of to do:

It’s actually pretty simple to do all the setup in Canada. You need the following steps:

  1. Establish a corporation. Not mandatory though but there is huge tax advantages here. You can do that online or through an accountant, it would cost you around $600 including all the fees.
  2. Once you have a business number, you need to call CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) and get an import/export number. This process is spontaneous, you get your number over the phone and it allows you to get lower customs fees and taxes
  3. You would want to sign a agreement with shipping companies to get 15% off of CanadaPost and up to 40% off of UPS. 
  4. You need to get your inventory, take good photos
  5. Implement an online store, which I can help you with. And start upload your products.
  6. There are so many tips on how you can get visibility in search engines and exposure in the online space. This is something I’m consulting on so I can help you with that.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stop Marketing Calls Via National Do Not Call List

As you may already know mobile calls are very expensive in Canada, you pay when you call someone and you pay when receive calls!

Recently I've been getting a lot of marketing spam calls from tele-marketing companies and that is costing me a lot of money not mentioning the frustration and waste of time.

Luckily, there is a National No Call List managed by the government which you can add your number to to stop those calls. And if you still get calls you can sue the caller.

Here is  the site where you can add your number:

Happy no-spamming!


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Eligible Occupation List July 2011

Hi guys - on July 1st Citizenship and Immigration Canada has changed the Eligible Occupation List. They are now accepting 500 applicants from every occupation, total of 10,000 applicant from all occupations. See details from CIC below

On July 1, 2011, the eligibility criteria for Federal Skilled Worker applicants changed.
Between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, a maximum of 10,000 complete Federal Skilled Worker applications will be considered for processing. Within the 10,000 cap, a maximum of 500 Federal Skilled Worker applications per eligible occupation will be considered for processing within this same time frame.
These limits do not apply to applications with an offer of arranged employment (job offer).

Applications received per eligible occupation:

Eligible Occupation
(by National Occupational Classification [NOC] code)
Number of Complete Applications Received*
0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers-
0811 Primary Production Managers (except Agriculture) -
1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management-
1233 Insurance Adjusters and Claims Examiners-
2121 Biologists and Related Scientists-
2151 Architects-
3111 Specialist Physicians-
3112 General Practitioners and Family Physicians-
3113 Dentists-
3131 Pharmacists-
3142 Physiotherapists-
3152 Registered Nurses-
3215 Medical Radiation Technologists-
3222 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists-
3233 Licensed Practical Nurses-
4151 Psychologists-
4152 Social Workers-
6241 Chefs-
6242 Cooks-
7215 Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades-
7216 Contractors and Supervisors, Mechanic Trades-
7241 Electricians (except Industrial and Power System)-
7242 Industrial Electricians-
7251 Plumbers-
7265 Welders and Related Machine Operators-
7312 Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics-
7371 Crane Operators-
7372 Drillers and Blasters – Surface Mining, Quarrying and Construction-
8222 Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service-
*The number of complete Federal Skilled Worker applications received as of July 1, 2011 is approximate.
**Once the cap has been reached, we can only accept applications for this occupation from people with an existing offer of arranged employment.
NOTE: Because application intake fluctuates, these figures are meant as a guide only. There is no guarantee that an application sent in now will fall within the cap.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Free Education at York University for Immigrants

Hi guys ... I want to share with you this great opportunity for immigrants to Canada who are internationality educated (with bachelor degree or higher in IT and Business only).

York University has got government funding to provide immigrants with the required education to be able to work successfully in the Canadian workplace. So York introduced Make More program they also refer to it as Bridging Program:

York University's Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) works with small and large local businesses, not-for-profits, professional associations and accreditation bodies to help IEPs transition into a position that matches their education, credentials and experience. We attract candidates from over 30 countries and create an individual, customized action plan for each IEP that is tailored to their professional goals and career path.

My wife is taking this program right now, she is a Software Engineer, and she is pretty happy with the program quality.

They are now holding information sessions, here is a list of dates:

Please share this with your friends so everyone can benefit from this.

Friday, November 05, 2010

How to Get Your Resume Online

The paper Microsoft Word document that is your resume has become outdated and stale.  Job recruiters are now turning to the Internet to find employees, and web-based job sites require that your resume be available for online viewing.   Are you using all of the cutting edge technology available to you?  If not, let us help you jump start your employment odds with our guide to getting your resume on the Internet.

Secure a domain name

A domain name is what you type into your Internet browser to get to a particular website.  For example, our domain name is  Your first step will be to buy your own domain name with a domain registrar.   Your domain name should be easy to spell and professional.  In other words, unless you’re a professional comedian, now is not the time to get cutesy or playful.  Your domain name may be:

  • Your full name
  • Your business name
  • A description of what you do (e.g.,
  • Your family name (e.g.,

Find web hosting

Now that you have a domain name it’s time to find a web hosting company to host it.  If you’re only putting your resume online and don’t plan to develop an actual website, you can safely purchase the smallest web hosting plan available.   You’ll want your chosen web hosting company to be reliable, so make sure you always do the following:

Optimize your resume for the web

Since job recruiters will be searching for resumes online you’ll want to make your website easy to find.

  • Use the word resume in your resume.  Many recruiters search for potential employees using the word resume.
  • Use meta tags.
  • Use keywords.

Pick a platform

You can get your resume on the Internet in a number of ways.

  • Create an HTML resume.  Most web hosting companies offer free website builders that will help you create an HTML resume or you can use freeware like HTML Kit to do it on your own.
  • Use a template.  There are thousands of free resume templates available.
  • Install WordPress and use a free theme.

Adding the finishing touches

Once your resume is online and viewable by the rest of the world, spend a few moments proofreading to make sure you’ve put your best work out there.

  • Your email address should be easy to spot and use.
  • You should have no misspellings or punctuation errors.
  • Fonts should be easy to read and standard across all web browsers.
Happy job hunting!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Job Search Podcast

Hi guys ... here is a very very useful Podcast about Job Search in Canada from Patricia Polischuk, a senior career consultant at Careego sharing great job search advices for immigrants coming to Canada:

Hope that helps,


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Job Search - Resume Help

As I'm getting  lots of questions about how to get a job in Canada, which is indeed the most critical step in your immigration journey. I have Lori Dyne (Marketing Manager with Knightsbridge) sharing lots of wonderful resources and thoughts about Job Search in Canada, including resume help:

Hello! My name is Lori and I am here to tell you about – a website designed to help professionals manage their careers in Canada.
Immigrating to Canada can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. There are things that you can do in advance of your move and when you arrive to make your transition easier. One of the things you can do is to prepare yourself to find employment in Canada.

One of the most important pieces of your job search will be developing a resume that meets Canadian standards and effectively summarizes your unique skills and experience. If you would like some help and guidance building your Canadian resume you may want to consider registering as a Premium Member on Premium Members have access to 3 pre-recorded resume webinars (Resume Basics, Resume Styles, and Build Your Resume) featuring Knightsbridge Career Coaches for you to watch at your convenience.

Once you watch the resume webinars and write your resume, you can then submit your rough draft to an actual Knightsbridge Career Coach for feedback.The resume critique evaluates the overall format, presentation and marketing effectiveness of your resume. Our goal is to provide you with practical advice and solutions to help you build a successful resume for today’s competitive marketplace.

Here is a summary of the benefits you will receive as a Careego Premium Member:

  • One Resume Critique by a Knightsbridge Career Coach.
  • Access to three pre-recorded Resume Webinars featuring a Knightsbridge Career Coach.
  • Unlimited email access to our Online Career Coach.
  • Six in-depth Career Assessments to help you determine work preferences, transferable skills, etc.

If you would like to access these resume resources you can register as a Premium Member for just $30/month (no contract required). Click here to be taken to the Registration Page.


Monday, August 02, 2010

New Occupations List and Immigration Law

Hi everyone ... I know I know .. I haven't written any post since forever. Actually I was surprised a couple of days ago to notice that the last time I posted was like a year ago!! I couldn't believe it, time really flied in Canada ... I really felt it's only a couple of months.

Anyway, this post is about the updated New Occupation List for the federal skilled worker immigration class.

The notable thing about this, which really surprised me, is that IT professionals are NOT needed anymore. That really made me sad as most of people I know who are planning to come to Canada are IT Professionals. However, there are still a lot of other ways to immigrate to Canada ... don't give up! it seems arranged employment  is one of the ways that works.

here is the new law from the CIC:

From CIC:

Eligibility criteria for federal skilled worker applications

Under changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, federal skilled worker applications are assessed for eligibility according to the criteria listed below. Note: This does not apply to applicants intending to live in the province of Quebec.

These criteria affect you only if you applied on or after June 26, 2010. If your application was received before June 26, 2010, it will be processed according to the rules that were in effect at that time.

Note: If you are applying under one of the 29 eligible occupations, as of June 26, 2010, a maximum of 20,000 Federal Skilled Worker applications will be considered for processing in the following 12 months. Within the 20,000 cap, a maximum of 1,000 Federal Skilled Worker applications per eligible occupation will be considered for processing each year.

These limits do not apply to applications with an offer of arranged employment.

Is my application eligible for processing?

For your application to be eligible for processing, you must include the results of your official language proficiency test, and either:
  • have a valid offer of arranged employment, OR
  • be a skilled worker who has had one year of continuous full-time or equivalent part-time paid work experience in at least one of the following eligible occupations within the last ten years:
0631 Restaurant and Food Service Managers
0811 Primary Production Managers (Except Agriculture)
1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management
1233 Insurance Adjusters and Claims Examiners
2121 Biologists and Related Scientists
2151 Architects
3111 Specialist Physicians
3112 General Practitioners and Family Physicians
3113 Dentists
3131 Pharmacists
3142 Physiotherapists
3152 Registered Nurses
3215 Medical Radiation Technologists
3222 Dental Hygienists & Dental Therapists
3233 Licensed Practical Nurses
4151 Psychologists
4152 Social Workers
6241 Chefs
6242 Cooks
7215 Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades
7216 Contractors and Supervisors, Mechanic Trades
7241 Electricians (Except Industrial & Power System)
7242 Industrial Electricians
7251 Plumbers
7265 Welders & Related Machine Operators
7312 Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics
7371 Crane Operators
7372 Drillers & Blasters - Surface Mining, Quarrying & Construction
8222 Supervisors, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service

NOTE: the occupations above are all Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) or Skill Level A (professional occupations) or B (technical occupations and skilled trades) on the Canadian National Occupational Classification list.

If you are not sure if you should apply as a skilled worker, you can use the eligibility tool to get an idea of whether your application would be eligible for processing.
If you apply and do not meet the above criteria, you will be informed of this and  your processing fee will be refunded.

There are many ways to immigrate to Canada. If you don’t meet the criteria to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you may qualify under another category. Learn more about your options.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earthquake shakes central Canada

I was sitting in my desk at work and for the first time in my life I felt my chair and desk shaking very noticeably! It lasted for 15 seconds ... everyone was wondering is that a real earthquake??

Here is the media coverage from the local news site:  

Amagnitude 5.0 earthquake hit central Canada this afternoon, rattling buildings from Windsor to Montreal and several U.S. states.

The epicentre of the quake was likely in Quebec, north of Ottawa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and struck at 1:41 p.m. EDT at a depth of 18 kilometres. The area - known as the Charlevoix-Kamouraska zone along the St. Lawrence River - is the most active seismic zone in that part of Canada, according to a report for the Canadian Geological Survey published earlier this year.
The same report predicted that the odds of a "structurally damaging" quake for Ottawa were about 9 per cent over the next 50 years. For Vancouver, the largest city near Canada's other most active seismic zone, those odds were estimated at 11 per cent.
An earthquake with a magniture of 5.0 is considered to be a moderate one but it can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At the most, it should cause only slight damage to well-designed buildings.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice was doing an interview with CTV at its Ottawa bureau on the 14th floor of the World Exchange Plaza in downtown Ottawa when the tremor struck.
"I was on the air and suddenly my chair was moving," he said afterwards. "Fortunately I was at the end."
The sidewalks quickly filled with workers who decided to evacuate their buildings. Within minutes of the tremor, cellphone service in Ottawa was down, possibly because callers had overloaded the system, though the exact cause was not known.

The Globe's Ottawa bureau was evacuated at 1:43 p.m. The Toronto newsroom also shook.  Read more

Friday, August 07, 2009

Job Search - Networking

Hi guys, I'm back to continue sharing with you my experience in finding a job in Canada.

Actually, networking is proven to be the BEST and most effective way in finding a job. You would be surprised to know that my very first job in Canada, which I got it 80 days after landing, was through networking. Here is the full story:

I logged in to Facebook and searched for all Project Managers in Toronto, then I added them with a gentle nice small message reads "Hi there, as I'm a project manager as well and we share the same profession, I thought it would be nice to connect to talk about that... I look forward to hearing from you" etc .. (you can choose your own words for sure, but you got it).
So for sure not all of them would reply, but eventuality some will accept you as a friend and reply to you. Then what I did is looked into one's company name and logged into the company website, and noticed that they need a project manager .. Yuppiiiiiie. So I contacted that person and he gladly offered to pass my resume to the HR department, he actually did that and referred me with a good recommendation! Then guess what? the next week I got an interview and got hired in three days after that! Isn't that awesome guys?

So bottom line ... facebook is only ONE of the tools that you can use, here are some other techniques:

1- Create a profile in, which is it's a business networking site (for those who don't know, and try to expand your network as much as you can. I'm still getting calls from recruiters who found my profile in LinkedIn!

2- Use facebook and all other social networking sites

3- Technology is good, but still real life is best! try to to meet people as much as you can, in the bus, the subway station, social events, and everywhere possible. they might be in the same field .. then tell them about your experience, who knows they might have some vacancy or they might know someone who can help you.

4- ALWAYS Leave people you meet with a business card. I know you don't have a company business card, but you need ot print some personal business card with your name, what you do (Project Manager, Programmer etc ..), top three strengths (C#, Web 2.0, Enterprise Application) and contact info. You can print these business card for FREE through this website: VistaPrint

5- Use MeetUp website: to find people with your interest and meet up with them in real life. (Don't forget to give them your Business Card)

With these above techniques you will find a job much faster ... and settle in Canada much easier.

Hope that helps ... leave me a comment below with questions or anything you would like to add.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spring in Canada - Video

Hi everybody ...

First of all I'd like to say sorry for not blogging so often ... I'm just very busy and now enjoying the wonderful spring in Canada these days ...

So for those who are yet to come to Canada ... here is a nice video I recorded specially to share it with you ...

That's Mississauga, after a heavy rain ... the sun appeared under the black clouds ... very nice view ... take a look .. I'd love to hear from you, let me know what you think:

I will try to share some great photos as well. Hope you will make it soon and come to enjoy this nice nature :)


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