My Canadian Experience
Business Immigration Meeting


The Immigration folk were kind enough to invite me to a special all day meeting on Thursday 28th October 2004.  This meeting was where I would get a chance to listen to bankers, accountants and other experts.

I turned up for 8.30 for a coffee and danish for breakfast and at 9.00am the meeting started.

I won't go through everything but suffice to say I did get a lot of interesting information and here is just some of what I learned:-

Credit History
It was clear that it was very important to establish some kind of credit rating to enable you to do business in Canada. Was told the story of a millionaire who had never had to borrow money but there came a time when he had to apply for a visa credit card for his daughter.  He went off to apply and was declined as he had no credit history!

The simple fact is that Canadian banks really only look at your Canadian track record so it is very important to get a credit card as soon as possible. A personal credit card that is.  Should you wish a $5000 limit then you are going to have to make a security deposit of $5000 with the bank.  Should you manage your card correctly and show transactions going through and the amounts being paid off then in around one year you will get your $5000 back.  There is not a lot of point in just getting the card and not using it as that in itself doesn't build you a credit history.

Building a business in Canada rests a lot with you personally as no matter what your business is doing they seem to take your personal position as being very important in any decisions that are made.

Banking
There are what are called Shedule I banks in Canada including Scotiabank, RBC Financial Group, CBIC, and others. I was told that they are all pretty much the same.  One might have a slightly better interest rate or a product the others don't have but within a month or so the others will follow suit.  So it pretty much goes around.  It was stressed that you need to build a relationship with your banker and thus it is much better to use a local bank so you can meet your bank manager or business relationship manager from time to time.

Canadian banks can also arrange US dollar accounts as well and of course they do have online banking.

Accounting
Seems that the tax rate for personal taxation is a wee bit high.  From what I remember earnings up to $8000 are free of tax and then from $8001 to $22,000 it is 28%, $30-60,000 is 33% and then $60,000 and over it is 40%.  Mind you Canada does have a free healthcare sector so that does make a difference.

I was told by the Canada Revenue Agency, who also made a presentation, that I would likely be best setting up a small business corporation or something like that.  I then get to enjoy a much lower rate of taxation. This is for businesses earning up to $250,000 but if you go over that then your taxation rate goes up to the 40% level again.  Likely need to find out more about this but at the end of the day as a business I really need to find a good accountant.

When you are a resident in Canada you are expected to pay tax on your world wide earnings.  You do however get a tax credit for any tax you have paid overseas so you won't pay tax twice.

There were plenty of web sites quoted to us to find lots of other information.  I might also add that Canada has GST/HST sales tax which seems to be a bit like the UK's VAT.  This means a business has to charge these taxes on any sales they make which they can offset against any purchases made and then you remit the balance to the Revenue usually quarterly.  So like the UK you are a kind of unpaid tax collector although I think I remember them saying that they pay you a $1500 annual fee for doing it.

Employment
We also got a presentation from the employment department which advised us that there is a minimum wage in Canada and advised us of the basic legislation about hours of work, holidays, paternaty leave, etc.

Some key web sites that supply lots of information are:

Overview
I found the day to be well worth it and they also supplied a fact pack which included shots of all the presentation screens, a map of Ontario, and lots of other information.  Plus you did get to talk to lots of knowledgeable people as well as the Immigration folks. With all this help you really shouldn't have much of a problem getting settled and starting a business. 

Other Progress
I did in fact apply for my SIN card this Wednesday which is needed to work in Canada. This is a simple process as you can go to their web site and simply download a .pdf application form, complete it and then take it into the local Human Resources Centre, a list of which they give you on the site.  You just need to take your passport with you for identification and I only stood in line for around 10 minutes and it took only a couple of minutes to process.  You do need to supply an address for them to send it to (which they will do in around 4 weeks) but that needn't be a permanent address. Note that in my case coming in with a work permit the card will be dated through to the work permit expiry date.  But when I extend my stay for another year you simply ask them to extend the card date.  Once you have been accepted you just advise them of that and they will issue a permanent card.

It looks like my next step is to get down to one of the banks to open a personal account and to apply for a personal visa credit card.  Having got that my next step will be to get a mobile phone.  After that is to find an accountant that can advise on setting up a company.  And while this is all going on I'm also trying to find a place to rent which I can call home for a year or so.

I am also starting to make enquiries about advertising companies that might like to use my web site for advertising campaigns :-)

Right now I am staying with friends in Toronto and they are also being very helpful as they actually know good accountants and lawyers and so that will help me shortcut trying to find ones myself.

Here is the Agenda of todays meeting

8:30 - 9:00 Registration, Networking and Breakfast
9:00 - 9:15 Ms. Chantal Ramsay - Manager, Business Immigration Section
*Welcome / Opening Remarks
9:15 - 10:00 Mr. Peter Muller - President, Sales and Marketing - Dimensions Displays Ltd.
*Experience in Establishing a Business
10:00 - 10:45 Mr. Brian Fingold - Fingold & Fosbery
*Canadian Accounting for Small Business
10:45 - 11:00 Networking Break (coffee / refreshments will be served
11:00 - 11:50 Mr. Ben Manzo and Mr. Tony Mainolfi - CIBC
*Canadian Banking for Small Business
11:50 - 12:15 Ms. Vivian Binnion - Canada Revenue Agency
*Services of the CRA
12:15 - 1:00 Networking Lunch
*Take this opportunity to met with other recent business immigrants as well as the speakers and to share ideas, problems and successes
1:00 - 1:45 Mr. Mark Borkowski - President, Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation
*Business Opportunities
1:45 - 2:30 Ms. Cheryl Sleep - Citizen & Immigration Canada / Business Immigration Unit
*Removal of Terms and Conditions
2:30 - 2:45 Networking Break (coffee / refreshments will be served)
2:45 - 3:10 Mr. Jason Li - Enterprise Toronto
*Services of the Business Self-Help Offices
3:10 - 3:45 Ms. Sheridan Barker - Ontario Ministry of Labour
*Overview of Employment Standards Act
3:45 - 4:15 Mr. Charles Donley - TradeLink Toronto
*Services for International Trading
4:15 - 5:00 Mr. Larry Hynes - MEDT Business Immigration Section
*Wrap up / Question and Answer Period

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