Communications services


Making a telephone call

Most Canadian telephone numbers have 10 digits (for example, 123-456-7890). The first three digits are the “area code” and the seven last digits are the number itself. Each region in Canada has a different area code with three digits.

The telephone book has the following information you will need to make telephone calls:

  • detailed instructions on how to make telephone calls
  • area codes within Canada as well as international country codes and area codes
  • complete list of home and business telephone numbers

You can get the telephone book in most public libraries.

Automatic answering services

Many businesses and government departments have automatic answering systems that give you recorded instructions on how to get information or to direct you to someone you can speak with. You may be asked to select options by pressing the numbers on your telephone or by pressing the “pound” [#] or the “star” [*] keys.

Many telephones have answering machines that allow you to leave a message if someone is not there at the time you call. The telephone will ring and then a recorded message will ask you to leave your name, number and a short message after the beep sound. When leaving a message, speak clearly and repeat your telephone number to make sure that the person who hears the message is able to call you back. Hang up when you have finished recording the message.

Telephone service

There are two main types of telephone service in Canada:

  • fixed line telephones (“home phones” or “land lines”); and
  • cell phones (“mobile”).

It is possible to get home telephone service almost anywhere in Canada. Cell phone service is available in all major urban regions and the more populated rural areas as well. To get either type of telephone service, contact a private telephone company in your area.

There are many different types of phone “plans” available depending on your needs and how much you want to pay per month. Special plans are available for people who make many long-distance calls.

When you sign up for a home or mobile plan, you will generally need to provide two pieces of identification of your choice (for example, permanent resident card, driver’s licence, passport, etc.). You might also be asked to agree to a credit check or to provide proof of employment. If you have no credit history or job, explain that you are a new immigrant and ask what options are available for someone in your situation.

Public telephones

There are public telephones in many Canadian towns and cities. You pay by using a calling card (available at most convenience stores) or by inserting coins.

Telephone services for people with special needs

Most telephone companies have special telephone equipment available for people with hearing, speech, visual or other disabilities. Ask your telephone company for details.

Postal services

Canada Post provides postal services in Canada. Through Canada Post, you can send and receive mail and parcels to and from anywhere in the world. For information on the many services and products offered by Canada Post, visit the Canada Post website or a post office in your city or town.


The Internet is a useful tool of everyday life for most Canadians. For example, many people in Canada use the Internet to:

  • search and apply for jobs;
  • do their banking;
  • learn about and buy many different products; and
  • read the news.

You can use the Internet for free at most public libraries. You can also pay to use the Internet at an Internet café where you will be charged based on how long you stay online. If you have a computer at home, you can contact your telephone company and ask about Internet plans.

Internet users, especially parents, should be aware of the risks of using Internet.

Television and radio

There are many private television and radio stations in Canada, including channels aimed at immigrant communities who broadcast in many different languages. Canada also has a national taxpayer-funded broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Société Radio-Canada, whose services are available in English and French.

To find a store that sells televisions and radios, go to a shopping area in your city or town.

Service “bundling”

If you buy more than one service from the same company, you can save money. For example, if you buy Internet, telephone and cable television service from the same company, you will often get a discount. This is called “bundling.”

Newspapers and magazines

There are several independent national newspapers in Canada and every main city has one or more local newspapers. Most newspapers have print and online versions. You can buy newspapers at convenience stores and at many other locations, or you can pay to have them delivered to your home.

In major Canadian cities, there are also newspapers and bulletins produced by immigrant communities. You can usually find them at stores that serve these communities.


Housing video

This video offers information about:

  • Renting a home or a room
  • Lease agreements
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Getting phone, television and mail service

To watch the video, select your language and the topic “Housing”

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