Banking, Money and Shopping
With a relatively low cost of living in Canada, your money goes further in Saskatchewan. Learn about cost of living, banking, shopping, taxes, tax credits and financial assistance programs available in the province.
1. Money and Banking
You will need enough Canadian money to meet your needs during your first few days here.
Things you may need to pay for include:
- Taxi fare from the airport to where you will stay;
- Telephone calls; and
- Food and other basic needs.
You will probably get a better rate of exchange on your currency in a bank than at a foreign currency exchange office at an airport.
Opening a Bank or Credit Union Account
You have choices:
- Banks are federally regulated and most of them operate across Canada.
- There are usually many bank choices in cities and more than one in larger towns in Saskatchewan.
- Credit unions are like banks and provide many of the same services like lending money, allowing you to deposit money and investing your money.
- They are provincially regulated and their operations are focused in one province.
- They are also member-owned, meaning if you have an account in a credit union, you are a part owner that can share in the profits of that institution or vote on your Board of Directors.
Open a bank or credit union account soon after arriving in Saskatchewan so that you can keep your money safe and cash any cheques that you receive.
You might also need other services the institution provides, such as transferring money between countries.
Consider the following as you choose the right financial institution for you:
- Is the location close to you? Can you get into your account from other branches?
- Does the bank or credit union offer all the services you will need (savings, investments, loans, bill payments, money transfers, etc.)?
- What are the fees charged for services like using an ATM, cashing a cheque, transferring money, exchanging foreign money, etc.?
- If your first language is not English does the bank have someone who speaks your language?
Some banks will allow you open an account with them even before you arrive in Canada.
To find a bank:
- Search online for "newcomer opening a bank account in Canada".
- Once you find a bank that allows you to open a bank account from your home country, you might also wish to check if the bank has a branch where you will be living in Saskatchewan. You can contact the bank by phone or email or use mysask411.com to check this.
You will need to cash or deposit the cheques you get. These could include regular pay cheques and in some cases, government cheques from Child Tax Benefits or the GST/HST Refund. You can arrange with your bank and employer to have many of your cheques automatically deposited in your bank account through direct deposit.
If you move from one house to another, it's important to give your new mailing address to the offices you receive cheques from.
Other Bank Services
- Internet banking: This service lets you check your accounts over the internet on computers and mobile devices at home and elsewhere. With internet banking, you can pay bills online or transfer money between accounts.
You can transfer money to other countries through banks and credit unions, financial services and pay day loan companies. There is a fee associated with the service so you may want to search for the best rate for you.
Federal, provincial and municipal (local) governments all collect money from Saskatchewan people through taxes. This money is used to provide services like police and fire protection, health care, education and more. In many cases, these taxes are deducted from an employee's pay cheque.
Every year, before April 30, you must complete Income Tax forms for the Canada Revenue Agency. On the form, you will list how much money you earned and how much tax you have already paid. Depending on your income and the amount of tax you paid, you will either have to pay more tax, or you will get some money back as an income tax refund. No matter how much or how little income you had in a year, you must fill out income tax forms. Both Federal and Provincial Income Tax are calculated on your income. This is done on one income tax form.
Visit the Form T4055 - Newcomers to Canada page, for an explanation on how income tax is calculated.
GST and PST
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a federal sales tax charged on most items and services you buy.
The Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is a sales tax charged on most items that you buy, import or rent, and on certain services.
In most cases, these taxes are not included in the listed prices of the items; they are added when you are paying for them.
If you own a house or other property, your local city, town or municipal government will charge you property taxes, which help to pay for local schools, roads and improving services in the city.
If you rent an apartment, you don't pay property tax directly.
For more information, visit Property Taxes.
Tax Credits and Financial Assistance Programs
The government gives money back to residents of Saskatchewan mainly through credits, supplements, and benefits.
- A tax credit is money received from a government tax program.
- An income supplement is money received through certain programs of the federal or provincial government to make life better in a particular way - such as to help individuals pay their rent or buy eyeglasses for their children.
Benefits for People with Children
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. If you have children, you should apply for the CCB as soon as possible after you arrive in Saskatchewan. You need to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before you can apply for the CCB.
The Child Care Subsidy is a monthly subsidy that is available to families to help them with the costs of licensed child care.
The GST Credit is a way for people and families with lower incomes to get back some or all of the federal goods and services tax they pay during a given year.
Newcomers to Canada may apply for GST/HST credits at any time in the year they become residents of Canada by completing Form RC151 or by filling out the benefits section on your income tax form.
GST Credit cheques are issued every three months.
Assistance for Low-Income People and Families
There are many Saskatchewan programs that help low-income families get a better quality of life.
- The Education and Training Incentive (ETI) that offers financial assistance to adult learners with low incomes to help them complete their high school education, participate in workforce and skills training programs, and improve employment opportunities, start a career and become more self-sufficient;
- The Saskatchewan Low-Income Tax Credit that reduces the provincial income taxes paid by lower-income people. If you applied for the federal GST Credit, you will automatically be registered for this program; and
- The Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) for people who aren't able to meet their basic living costs.
For more information, visit Financial Help.
When you arrive in Saskatchewan, you may need to buy goods including things for your home, groceries, clothing or school supplies.
You may also need services, such as:
- Buying a bus pass; or
- Getting a haircut.
There are many stores where you can buy groceries, clothing and household items, and many service businesses in its cities. Most towns have several large stores, and villages might have a store combined with a post office.
Types of Stores
There are many different types of stores in cities and towns across Saskatchewan, including:
- Department stores
- Specialty stores
- Thrift shops or second-hand stores
The prices of items in stores and restaurants are fixed - you pay the asking price. You can bargain over the prices of bigger purchases, such as cars and homes, or larger appliances like refrigerators.
There are many different types of restaurants in Saskatchewan.
Keep in mind, when you eat in a restaurant where you are served, it is common to leave a tip for the serving staff equal to about 15 per cent of the bill.