New immigrant Jennifer is all praises for Planning for Canada’s pre-arrival support
After living in the Philippines and Dubai, Jennifer Pacquing immigrated to Canada in 2020. Before the big move, she signed up for Planning for Canada‘s pre-arrival services and is “grateful for all the assistance, information and resources” she received. In this interview, Jennifer shares how Planning for Canada helped her create and follow a personalized short-term and a long-term action plan.
Country of origin: Philippines
Immigrated to Canada in: February 2020
Currently lives in: Calgary, Alberta
Occupation: Human Resources professional
Why did you decide to immigrate to Canada?
In 2013, I flew from Manila, Philippines, to Dubai and spent most of my years there working in the human resources department for a company. One day, I was walking home from work in Dubai and someone – perhaps a visa consultant – was handing out flyers for Canadian immigration. I had heard so many good things about Canada, like its healthcare benefits, the quality of life here etc. I checked the Government of Canada website and learned that applying for permanent residence is a very straightforward procedure. So, I arranged my documents and submitted my application in 2017, selecting provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia. My score in Express Entry did not reach the cut-off score for the year 2018 and hence, the application expired. I applied again, this time selecting all the provinces, and Alberta selected me for their AINP program. From Dubai, I went home to the Philippines for a month and then booked a one-way ticket to Calgary. It has been an adventure ever since.
What do you like about Canada? Is there also something you dislike?
Like: It’s amazing how Canada takes care of its people. The healthcare benefits here are incomparable to other countries. I also love how people in Canada treat each other. It is definitely a diverse and multicultural country that provides equal opportunities for everyone from different backgrounds and walks of life. There’s also a work-life balance here. After work, I still have time to study and do the things that I enjoy.
Dislike: I can’t say I dislike it but transportation in Calgary is a challenge for me because I am still in the process of obtaining my driver’s license. The city is quite spread out and it takes a long time to commute via public transport. When the weather is rough, I have to walk for 20 minutes in the snow just to get to a train station and then another 15 minutes after the ride to get to my destination. So, I often take a cab instead and that gets really costly for me as a new immigrant.
Did you face any specific challenges after you landed in Canada?
I’ve had a good experience so far. The pandemic was declared here soon after I landed so I am yet to explore places.
When did you avail of Planning for Canada’s (PfC) pre-arrival services? Was the time that you had enough to absorb all the information?
Right after I received my visa, I registered online for Planning for Canada’s services. I was contacted by a facilitator and I had a Group Orientation (GO) session and then a Personalized Planning Session (PPS). I enrolled well in time and was able to learn about the services in detail.
What was Planning for Canada’s role in your immigration preparation?
I’m very grateful to Planning for Canada for all the assistance, information and resources they shared with me. I kept referring back to those after reaching Canada. In my one-on-one session with my advisor, we had set a short-term goal for employment and a long-term goal for local education. I didn’t want to spend all my funds on daily expenses. My advisor suggested alternative jobs where I could apply my former work experience. Following her advice, I found a customer service job in 32 days after landing in Canada. And now, I’m also studying alongside my job.
How did these services assist you in your settlement and integration journey in Canada?
In my sessions with Planning for Canada, I was told about the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). I reached out to them within a week of landing and was put into training through their career bridge workshop for three weeks. I learned so much and networked with so many people. CCIS also assisted me with all my employment and settlement concerns. At the end of the training, we got a chance to get interviewed by employers at a career fair. I found a job and the pandemic hit soon after. I’ve been working from home since May. It’s going well.
Please tell us about your employment journey in Canada.
Before I moved to Canada, I was working in human resources. Right now, I have a customer service job where I am able to apply all my transferable skills. Recently, I was considered for a different position which I consider the first step in my career advancement.
Any tips or learnings that you’d like to share with future immigrants?
My advice to immigrants is to take advantage of pre-arrival services. While it is important to do your research about the province you are headed to, also reach out to organizations such as Planning for Canada that offer customized support and guidance free of cost. You might find blogs, forums and articles online, but it is better to get the information from organizations that have years of experience and updated information for newcomers.
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* Planning for Canada, funded by Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada, provides pre-arrival services to economic and family class immigrants before coming to Canada. For more information and to register, visit: www.planningforcanada.ca.