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Temporary Foreign Worker Support Program

Temporary Foreign Worker Support

ISANS is pleased to offer the following services to Temporary Foreign Workers and their families across Nova Scotia:

  • Needs assessment and one-on-one counselling
  • Referrals to legal, health, financial, government, and other services
  • Access to translation services
  • Employment counselling
Labour Standards

Canadian laws protect every worker in Canada. This includes temporary foreign workers like you.

Your employer:

  • must pay you for your work
  • must make sure that your workplace is safe
  • cannot take your passport or work permit away from you

Every province and territory has an office that deals with labour and employment laws. A person at your local employment or labour standards office can talk to you about fair pay, hours of work, rest periods, working conditions and provide other services.

You do not need your employer’s permission to call the Labour Standards office or visit the website. Your employer cannot punish you or have you deported for it. You can also call anonymously – you do not have to give your name.

Read our Labour Standards Guide.

To call with inquiries or concerns about your rights as an employee, dial 424–4311, or 1-888-315-0110 outside of HRM.

Visit Nova Scotia Labour Standards for more information.

Occupation Health and Safety

Your health and safety in the workplace is protected by Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations. It is the responsibility of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to promote, coordinate, administer, and enforce occupational health and safety for you and your co-workers. Their goal is to establish and enforce clear standards to reduce occupational injury and illness.

You have the legal right to refuse to do work that you think is unsafe.

For more information on Occupational Health and Safety or for information on how to report a concern, visit Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Health and Safety.

Housing in Nova Scotia

There are many types of housing in Nova Scotia. They include:

  • Apartment – bachelor or 1, 2 and 3 bedroom
  • Shared house/room for rent
  • Condominium -sometimes called a condo
  • Townhouse or duplex or semi-detached house
  • Detached house

Buying a Home

  • The price of homes in Nova Scotia ranges widely, depending on such things as size, age, type and location.
  • Often, homebuyers get a loan from the bank – a mortgage – to purchase their home. You usually have to make a down payment (e.g., 25% of the purchase price) when you get a mortgage. Your bank can give you details on financing a home purchase.
  • Other costs to consider when you buy a home are property taxes, repairs, maintenance, insurance and utilities (heat, water, electricity, etc.).
  • You must also take care of your home and property (e.g., paint, cut the grass, shovel snow).
  • Many people who buy a home use a real estate agent. Check the Yellow Pages under Real Estate Brokers or search for agent and property at
  • Some people find their home through a private sale advertised, for example, on a ‘House for Sale’ sign or on an internet site such as Kijiji.
  • You can find more information about buying a home in Canada through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.

Renting a Home

  • Most newcomers to Canada rent at first. If you rent, you will need to sign a lease (a legal contract between you and the landlord). Leases are usually for one year but you may be able to negotiate a month to month agreement.
  • Rent amounts range widely depending on location and size, and apartments or houses for rent can be furnished or unfurnished. Rent is usually due on the first day of the month. Most renters pay by post-dated cheques.
  • In addition to your first month’s rent, you will pay a damage deposit of not more than half a month’s rent. The landlord holds this damage deposit to cover the cost if you damage the apartment. If there are no damages, the landlord is required to return this money within 10 days of you moving out.
  • Consider Tenant’s Insurance to protect your personal belongings while you are renting – see an insurance agent for more information or visit the Insurance Brokers of Nova Scotia website.

Finding a Place to Rent

There are many ways to find apartments or houses to rent in Nova Scotia. For example:

If you find an apartment or house that you think you might like to rent, contact the landlord, property manager or superintendent to tell them you would like to view it. You may have to make an appointment. Think of this meeting as an interview; be on time, dress professionally and be prepared.

Questions to ask a landlord or property manager:

  • How much is the rent?
  • What utilities are included?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • How old is the building?
  • Is the building quiet?
  • Can I have pets?
  • Is it a non-smoking building?
  • How many appliances are there?
  • Is there a balcony?
  • Is parking available?

Rental Applications

The landlord will ask you to complete an application before renting an apartment or house to you. Rental applications provide the landlord with your personal information. Landlords will also check the references you provide and your credit history.

Rental applications will include such things as:

  • names and dates of birth of occupants
  • current telephone number
  • current and previous addresses
  • social insurance number (this is not mandatory)
  • employment information and/or financial information (e.g., bank statement)
  • current/previous landlord information

 Signing a Lease

  • A lease is a legal contract between you and the landlord. It includes such things as the rent amount, term of the lease, information on when and how the rent can increase,  and rules for living in the building.
  • Read the lease carefully and make sure you understand everything. If you do not understand the lease, ask someone you know and trust to help you before you sign the lease.
  • You should get one copy of the lease and your landlord should get another. Make sure to keep your copy safe. See a standard Nova Scotia residential lease agreement at Access Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Downloadable Forms.


  • Heating and water costs may not be included in your rent. If heat is not included, make sure you budget for this, especially during the winter season when heating costs can be very high. There is a Heating Assistance Rebate Program available through Access Nova Scotia that can help people with low to medium income pay for heat.
  • Electricity costs may not be included in your rent. You may need to contact Nova Scotia Power to set up an account and get electricity in your apartment. You may also need to pay a security deposit at the time you set up your account.
  • Cable/Telephone/Internet are usually not included in your rent. You can contact Eastlink, Bell Aliant or check local Yellow Page listings for available services in the area where you are renting.

Rights and Responsibilities

By law, both tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities. A tenant is the person who rents the place they live in. A landlord is a person who owns the building or home where the tenants rent. A caretaker or superintendent may work for the landlord to take care of the building or home rented to the tenants. Read about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Access Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Guides, or go directly to the Residential Tenancies Act.

What to do if there is a problem

If there is a problem in the house or apartment you are renting (e.g., broken plumbing, appliance, heating, or mice), contact your landlord or superintendent immediately. Note the date and time and the information you give to your landlord/superintendent. If the landlord does not solve the problem in a reasonable time, you can contact Dalhousie Legal Aid Service. Visit or call or visit their office in Halifax.

Dalhousie Legal Aid Service
2209 Gottingen St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3K 3B5
tel:  902-423-8105
fax: 902-422-8067

You also have the right to take your complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board. Visit
Access Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies or call 1-800-670-4357 for more information.

What to do if you are without a home

Some newcomers may find themselves in a situation where they are without a home due to a lack of work, financial problems or other issues. In those situations, there is help available. Speak to the Temporary Foreign Worker Support Counsellor at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (1-866-431-6472) who will help you to connect with an agency that can assist you in finding a place to live.

Useful Links

Healthcare in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health Insurance

Nova Scotia’s Health Insurance Programs are designed to provide eligible residents with coverage for medically required hospital, medical, dental and optometry services with some restrictions.

The Medical Services Insurance (MSI) Programs are administered by Medavie Blue Cross on behalf of the Nova Scotia government. The Hospital Insurance Program is administered directly by the Department of Health and Wellness. The cost of providing these services to Nova Scotians is met through the general revenues of the province. Temporary Foreign Workers pay no premiums.

To be eligible for Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) benefits, you must have a valid work permit for a minimum of one full year (from the date of your arrival).

Application forms are available by calling MSI toll-free within Nova Scotia at 1-800-563-8880. Once your application has been processed, you and your eligible family members will receive your Nova Scotia Health Cards.

Once you receive your Nova Scotia Health Card, please sign it and carry it with you at all times. You must present it to the physician and/or hospital each time you need insured hospital or physician services.

Your Nova Scotia Health Coverage:

We are updating this information – please check back soon.

Visit Health and Wellness Nova Scotia for more information.

Private Health Insurance

  • Many people buy private health insurance
  • It can help to pay for things not covered by MSI (e.g., dental, prescriptions, eyeglasses, private hospital rooms, travel insurance and alternative treatments)
  • The cost of health insurance depends on many things, such as your plan type, your age and your health
  • You may be able to receive health benefits through your job
  • The following companies offer private health insurance in Canada:

Healthlink 811

  • Call 811 to receive free non-emergency health information
  • Speak to a registered nurse
  • They can answer health questions and give you advice and information
  • They may tell you to see a doctor or go to the emergency room
  • Interpreters are available
  • Visit Healthlink 811 for more information

Walk-in Clinics

  • Many places in Canada have walk-in medical clinics for non-emergency health problems
  • There are advantages such as:
  • you may be able to see a doctor much faster
  •  you do not need to make an appointment
  •  they may be open on weekends and evenings
  • Check the internet or your local telephone listings for walk-in clinic information and locations in your area


  • You should choose a pharmacy that is close to your home
  • Ask the pharmacist about the medication (i.e., how to take it, side effects)
  • You can sometimes order a refill over the phone or online
  • Pharmacies also sell over-the-counter medicines for things such as a cold, the flu, headache, upset stomach or diarrhea, and other convenient household items
  • Check the internet or your local telephone listings for pharmacy information and locations in your area

Nova Scotia Family Pharmacare Program

  • This program helps people who do not have drug coverage with a private insurance company or who have high drug costs not covered by private insurance
  • The program helps pay for prescription medications, supplies and related services
  • You need a valid Nova Scotia Health Card to be in the program
  • You need to complete a registration form (1 per family) to be eligible for the program
  • Visit  NS Family Pharmacare Programfor more information


  • If there is a healthcare emergency (e.g., heart attack, stroke, severe burn, loss of consciousness), you should call 911 immediately
  • Remain calm; tell the 911 operator why you are calling and answer their questions
  • They will send an ambulance to your location
  • You may need to pay for the ambulance ($134.52)
  • In some situations, you may want to go to the emergency room of the closest hospital instead
Immigrating to Nova Scotia

As a temporary foreign worker, you may be considering immigration to Canada. If you would like to apply to become a permanent resident, it is a good idea to begin preparing as soon as possible. Eligibility is not automatic and you have to meet many requirements. Three possible immigration routes to Nova Scotia are briefly described below:

  1. The Nova Scotia Nominee Program
    The NSNP allows the Government of Nova Scotia to recruit, select and nominate applicants who can meet the province’s labour market and economic needs. Nominated applicants, along with their spouse and dependents, may become permanent residents following approval by the Canadian government. Among other requirements, the applicant must have an offer of permanent employment.For complete information, visit the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration website at the Nova Scotia Nominee Program.
  2. The Federal Skilled Worker Class
    The Federal Skilled Worker Class is administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Skilled workers are selected as permanent residents based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, and other criteria that have been shown to help them become economically established in Canada. Among other requirements, the applicant must have an offer of permanent employment or have at least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in one of the listed occupations by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For complete information visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada at the Federal Skilled Worker Class Program.
  3. The Canadian Experience Class
    The Canadian Experience Class is administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. To qualify you must be a temporary foreign worker with at least two years of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience in Canada. Among other requirements, the applicant must provide proof of language proficiency.For complete information visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada at the Canadian Experience Class Program.