Moving to a new place is exciting but can also be overwhelming. We hope the following information will be helpful in connecting you to your new home.
This video is meant to help you get ready for your new life in Canada and explains some of the things you should do during your first two weeks here that will make the transition easier.
The Western NS Local Immigration Partnership has created welcome packages that include a Welcome Guide, information about organizations providing services throughout the region as well as items specific to the community you are living in.
The Western Regional Enterprise Network created the all-encompassing Welcome Guide to living in the region for those considering moving to our communities and to those who have recently moved here. It takes readers through the need to knows, including housing, healthcare, child-care, education, volunteering, museums, and activities to check out within the region. It is available online but if you are looking for a printed copy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can tell you where you might pick one up.
Service Canada provides a single point of access to a wide variety of government programs and benefits. Here you can apply to obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN), a Canadian passport, search the Federal Job Bank, and much more.
Access Nova Scotia is the provincial agency that offers many services, such as a Driver’s Licence application, Marriage Licence, and information for starting and registering a business, among others.
The Health Guide for Newcomers to Nova Scotia provides clear information about our health care system for you and your family. This guide will also include links to help you access the various health care services available.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority provides health services to Nova Scotians and some specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. The Health Authority operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province.
For information about how health care works in Canada, click here.
Residents of Nova Scotia need a Nova Scotia Health Card. To register for a Health Card in Nova Scotia, you must call the MSI Registration and Enquiry Department at 902-496-7008 or 1-800-563-8880 (toll-free within Nova Scotia) to start the application process. Blank application forms are not available. More information can be found here.
YARMOUTH, DIGBY, AND SHELBURNE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY
Emergency departments (EDs) and their staff are an essential part of the province’s health care system, quickly assessing and managing patients with unexpected illness or injury. The emergency rooms at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital (60 Vancouver Street), Digby General Hospital (75 Warwick Street) and the Shelburne Roseway Hospital (1606 Lake Road) provide 24/7 access to emergency services.
HEALTH CARE QUESTIONS – 811
Nova Scotians may access health information and advice by calling 811. The service is available for non-urgent, health-related issues and questions, and can help with advice on everything from bee stings and frostbite to coughs and flu.
Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide reassurance and information on general issues and questions.
Health information and advice may include self-care at home or a recommendation to see a care provider or visit a local emergency department.
Callers may also get information about health-related services available in their community. Services are available in more than 125 languages, including French, Farsi, Cantonese, and Arabic.
For more information about 811, visit www.811.novascotia.ca.
NEED A FAMILY PRACTICE REGISTRY
The Need a Family Practice Registry is a provincial list for people without a family doctor or nurse practitioner. You can register by calling 811 or by visiting https://needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca/. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be added to the list. When a primary care provider in your area is accepting new patients, Nova Scotia Health will contact you by phone and/or email.
Virtual Care NS provides free, temporary access to primary medical care for people on the Need a Family Practice Registry. Through Virtual Care NS, people on the registry can make a virtual medical appointment for their health care needs.
Register at https://app.getmaple.ca/register .
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
The Western Region has both established collaborative care practices including the Bear River and Area Community Health Clinic, Digby and Area Health Services Centre, Islands Health Centre, Clare Health Centre, Harbour South Medical Clinic, A.M. Clark Health Centre, Barrington Community Health Centre, and traditional family medicine practices throughout our communities.
We also have the unique opportunity to partner with the Acadia First Nation and Bear River First Nation health centres to help address the health care needs within our First Nation communities. There are also services for Mental Health and Addictions, Blood Collection and Public Health in the community. Other areas related to health care such as hearing services, therapeutic services, natural healing, respiratory care and more, are available throughout the area.
The Western Region is considered a safe place to live, with limited crime. We’re protected by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and by the dedicated first responders and emergency professionals in our community.
EMERGENCY – 911
If your health, safety, or property is threatened and you need help right away, call 911. The 911 operator will notify emergency responders such as fire, police, or ambulance.
911 operators have access to interpreters in more than 170 languages.
For text with 911 service (for those with hearing or speech impairments), ensure your cell phone is compatible with the service and register your cell phone number with your wireless provider. You also need to ensure you have a cell phone that’s compatible with 9-1-1 Service Text.
Fire and rescue services are provided by the 36 fire departments throughout the Western Region. Our fire halls are also a gathering place for community events, which take place throughout the year. These organizations are almost all staffed by volunteers – if you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to the fire department closest your new home.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICE
The provincial Emergency Management Office (EMO) is responsible for emergency planning and coordinating emergency responses. The office works with municipal authorities to help plan for emergencies, coordinate provincial resources when there is an emergency and help with analysis and evaluation after an emergency. They also administer the provincial emergency 911 service.
EHS (EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES)
In Nova Scotia, EHS provides emergency response via ground ambulance and the Life Flight helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE (RCMP)
For nearly 150 years, the RCMP has been Canada’s national police service. In the Western Region, there are five RCMP detachments: Barrington (2486 Highway 3), Yarmouth Rural (156 Starrs Road), Yarmouth Municipal (233 Water Street), Meteghan (60 Meteghan Connector Road) and Digby (129 Victoria Street). These detachments are responsible for policing throughout the entire region, including Acadia First Nation, Bear River First Nation and on our rural roads and highways.
PROVINCIAL SERVICES & PROGRAMS – 211
211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, non-profits, and government departments across Nova Scotia. It’s available throughout the province 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by dialing 211 to speak with a helpful staff member, by searching the easy-to-use online database at ns.211.ca or by texting 211 Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm)
WEATHER UPDATES AND ROAD CONDITIONS – 511
For up-to-date road conditions in Nova Scotia, dial 511 or visit 511.novascotia.ca for maps and access to real-time highway cameras.
SLOW DOWN, MOVE OVER LAW
In Nova Scotia, if you see an emergency vehicle pulled over with its lights flashing, slow down to 60 km/h or obey the speed limit if it’s lower than 60 km/h. If you’re on a road with two or more lanes in your direction, you must move into the lane farthest away from the stopped vehicle if you can do so safely. You don’t need to slow down or move over if the vehicle is on the other side of the median on a divided highway.
This law has been updated to include public safety officers and tow truck drivers as well as emergency personnel, conservation officers and motor vehicle inspectors.
Finding a person or group of people who you can trust to look after your child is a big decision. Here in the Western Region, we have all kinds of wonderful, caring, and professional childcare providers to help you and your family.
Regulated childcare is licensed through the Government of Nova Scotia and administered through registered day care organizations. The Western Region is home to several privately-run French and English day care businesses- you can search for nearby locations. Options are also available for in-home care for infants, toddlers, and after-school care for school-aged children. Many day cares offer flexible hours, which is especially welcome by parents or guardians requiring early drop-offs or late pick-ups.
Most of these go up to four years of age since children attend the province-wide Pre-Primary Program after preschool.
You may hear the term Early Childhood Educator or ECE. ECEs are certified childcare providers who have completed a four-year degree or two-year diploma program and can be found in various day cares. They also administer the pre-primary program in our schools.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool here! Many parents find great babysitter referrals through neighbours, friends, coworkers, or social media. Courses or certifications aren’t required for babysitting jobs, but are helpful to some, especially teenagers looking to earn some extra income while spending time caring for children in the community. Many municipal units facilitate babysitting courses as well.
The Family Centre in Digby, Parents’ Place in Yarmouth, and Le Centre provincial de ressources prescolaires in Church Point deliver free programs and services to families with children ages 0-6, as well as offering prenatal support to pregnant women throughout the region.
Most people in the Western Region rely on a personal vehicle for travel. All towns and communities offer parking and taxi services are available throughout the region. There’s also a variety of car dealerships, car rental agencies and mechanics in the community ready to serve you and your motor vehicle needs.
ACCESS NOVA SCOTIA
The Registry of Motor Vehicles is located at Access Nova Scotia in Digby (338 Highway 303) and Yarmouth (10 Starrs Road, Suite 127). Staff can help you with items like driver’s licenses, written and road tests and vehicle and plate registration. They’re open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and evening hours Tuesday to Thursday, 4:30 pm to 7 pm (except holidays). Many of these services can also be accessed online: https://novascotia.ca/driving-and-road-safety/
Both drivers and pedestrians are responsible for crosswalk safety. Crosswalks exist at every intersection. Marked crosswalks have painted white lines and unmarked crosswalks do not. Vehicles must yield to pedestrians in both marked and unmarked crosswalks and pedestrians should use marked crosswalks when available.
On rural roads without sidewalks, pedestrians must walk on the extreme left side of the roadway or on the shoulder of the road, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.
Bicycles are allowed on all roads in Nova Scotia unless otherwise posted, and cyclists must follow the same law as motor vehicles.
The one-metre rule applies: motorists must leave at least one metre (three feet) of space when passing a cyclist on the road.
KINGS TRANSIT is a public transit service that offers service between Weymouth and Cornwallis, through the Annapolis Valley to Wolfville.
TOWN OF YARMOUTH TRANSIT runs using a flag stop system where you can choose to board and depart the bus at designated stops, or by creating your own flag stop. One-fare tickets are $1.50 and monthly passes are $50.
LE TRANSPORT DE CLARE offers door-to-door transportation for people with disabilities, seniors, and people on a fixed income throughout Digby County. For more information visit their website or call 1-888-769-2477.
HOPE DIAL-A-RIDE offers pre-booked door-to-door transportation for clients throughout Yarmouth County. Call 902-742-6579 to book a ride.
SOU’WEST NOVA TRANSIT provides door-to-door, wheelchair accessible transportation options to all Shelburne County residents. For more information visit their website or call 902-637-2572 or toll free at 1-844-637-2572.
SHUTTLE SERVICES are available, offering round-trip service from the Western Region to Halifax – picking you up and dropping you off at your preferred departure and arrival locations.
Tri-Star Charters– Yarmouth
Some of the services, costs, and monthly bills you may have when moving to or living in the Western Region.
WATER AND SEWER
This is managed through each municipal unit. If you’re in a rural area, you may rely on your own well water and septic system.
Insurance is required for all drivers in our province; however, the types of insurance do vary. In addition, it’s highly recommended that you also secure insurance for your home and your belongings, which is referred to as Contents or Tenants Insurance. Click here to search for an insurance broker in the region.
ELECTRICITY AND HEATING
In Nova Scotia, we have one electric utility, Nova Scotia Power, an Emera Company. Electric heating is one popular source of heating, in addition to oil, gas and wood heating. There are many local providers for oil, gas and firewood, and the source of heating for your home might be something you wish to consider when purchasing or renting a home, as each require maintenance and different costs.
CABLE AND INTERNET
Cable and internet are available from a variety of providers in our area, the largest being Bell Aliant and Eastlink and other local options such as Mainland Telecom, City Wide Communications and Xplornet. It’s recommended that you do your research to ensure that service can be provided to your area of choice.
Discovering foods that are new to you or finding ingredients to make your own traditional meals, you will find many options for shopping.
MAJOR GROCERY STORES
There are several major chain grocery stores across the region. These include Co-ops, Sobeys, Atlantic SuperStore, Foodland, No Frills, Walmart, and more. Many of these stores have an “international food” section, provide online ordering and curbside pickup options.
Visiting a Farmer’s Market in your community is a great way to explore your new home and discover the exciting products created and grown by your neighbours and local farmers. There are many markets across the region, all on different days of the week. Please note many of these markets are seasonal.
Several organizations throughout the region provide food banks and/or similar services where they collect and distribute foods to residents in need. If you need food, visit www.ns.211.ca or call 211. They’re available 24/7 to help connect you with resources in your community. You can also use our Find Food tool for information on food banks and meal programs. If you’ve never accessed support, learn more about what to expect.
WHAT GOES WHERE?
Nova Scotia offers waste management programs that are leading in the country, and Waste Check is proud to offer a robust waste diversion program. For those new to the area, this can often be an overwhelming process, however Waste Check has resources to help you with that, including a free app called Recycle Coach that helps you learn what goes where, see your waste collection schedule, and set up reminders about your collection day.
Some items such as tires, paint, electronics, and hazardous waste aren’t part of the curbside recycling program, but you can contact Waste Check for disposal instructions.
Twice a year, there is a spring/fall clean-up where you can place oversized items such as mattresses, furniture, appliances, barbecues, and hot water heaters on the side of the road for pick up. You can find more details and dates on the Municipality of Barrington and Waste Check’s websites.
You can also visit Waste Check’s website to request an organics cart, report an illegal dumping and view and download sorting guides.
Divert NS is a not-for-profit corporation that is championing recycling by working with Nova Scotians to improve our environment, economy, and quality of life by reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering resources.
Divert NS operates a key recycling program in Nova Scotia — the Beverage Container Deposit-Refund Program. All beverage containers (excluding milk) can be returned to an Enviro-Depot™ for refund.
Some Enviro-Depots™ accept extra materials such as electronics or paint. You can call ahead to determine what your depot accepts. Find your local Enviro-Depot™ at www.divertns.ca.
Setting up a bank account or finding a local branch is an important step prior to or once you arrive in your new community. The Western Region has a variety of options to serve your banking needs. There are also ATM/ABMs and cashback options located throughout the community.
- CIBC 3528 Highway 3, Barrington Passage 902-637-2212
- Royal Bank 3525 Route 3, Barrington Passage 902-637-2040
- Coastal Financial Credit Union 3640 Hwy 3, Barrington Passage 902-903-3437
- Royal Bank 948 Route 335, West Pubnico 902-762-2205
- Coastal Financial Credit Union 9 Abbotts Harbour Rd, West Pubnico 902-762-2372
- Coastal Financial Credit Union 59 Van Norden Rd, Tusket 902-648-2322
- Coastal Financial Credit Union 2246 Route 334, Wedgeport 902-663-2525
- Bank of Montreal 354 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-9291
- CIBC 317 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-7855
- Coastal Financial Credit Union 371 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-2123
- Royal Bank 399 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-2496
- Scotiabank 389 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-7116
- TD Canada Trust 360 Main St, Yarmouth 902-742-3561
- Caisse Populaire de Clare 15 Hache Rd, Meteghan 902-645-2661
- Royal Bank 8249 Hwy 1, Meteghan 902-645-2410
- Scotiabank 10027 Hwy 1, Saulnierville 902-769-3234
- Caisse Populaire de Clare 1726 Hwy 1, Church Point 902-769-3132
- Royal Bank 4663 Evangeline Trail, Weymouth 902-837-5136
- CIBC 87 Warwick St, Digby 902-245-4754
- Royal Bank 51 Water St, Digby 902-245-4771
- Scotiabank 61 Water St, Digby 902-245-2564
In Nova Scotia, a sales tax called ‘HST’ (Harmonized Sales Tax) is charged on most goods and services and combines a federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). Sales tax is not shown on the price tag of an item but is added to the cost when you pay for it or when you receive your bill.
All residents must submit annual income tax returns to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Need some help? There are a variety of corporate and independent accounting firms in Western Nova Scotia to help you.
You must file your income tax returns by APRIL 30TH every year to ensure that you will not incur interest or penalties.
Tax rates are determined by each municipal unit — all property owners pay residential taxes. There is a separate business and corporate tax rate. There is also a separate charge for property owners for utilities such as sewer, water, and waste.
Places of Worship
Sacred spaces for prayer and worship are important to communities everywhere. The Western Region is home to many faiths and places of worship of all sizes, all of which welcome new members and visitors alike.
Church Point is home to the Sainte-Marie Church, the largest wooden church in North America. It was built over a period of two years, from 1903 to 1905, by 1500 volunteers under the supervision of a master carpenter who could neither read nor write and features large columns which are complete 20 m (70ft) tall tree trunks.
Today, the Western Region is home to an array of faiths and sacred spaces that serve as gathering places for family and friends, old and new. Presbyterian, United, Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and other Christian churches sit prominently in our towns, which village churches dot our rural roads, each of them with their own stories, all of them the product of local vision and labour.
The area is also home to several Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Baha’i families, although there are no formal places of worship for these religions.
While the role of churches and places of worship have changed over the centuries, today they remain an integral part of life here in rural Nova Scotia. You can find the location of nearby churches by using the Google “Near me” search function. For example, if you type in the words “Roman Catholic Church near me” you will see a list of the addresses of Roman Catholic churches in the area.