There are two important documents you must apply for as soon as you arrive in Canada: a Social Insurance Number and a health card.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from the federal government to work in Canada. An employer cannot legally hire you without this number. You also use this number to apply for government services or pay your taxes. To apply for a SIN, you must go to a Service Canada Centre. Phone 1-800-206-7218 to find the centre nearest to you, or visit the Service Canada web page on Social Insurance Number for more information.
All residents of Canada have access to medically necessary hospital and physician care through a provincial health insurance program. Doctors are paid by government taxes; this means that you do not have to pay for most healthcare costs. The provincial and territorial governments issue health cards. Contact information for the health ministry of each province or territory is available at Provincial/Territorial Health Insurance Card Links.
For a list of other things you need to do before and after you arrive in Canada, see this Coming to Canada checklist. Download PDF version