Getting a Social Insurance Number
You need a social insurance number (SIN) to work in Canada. Your employer should ask you for your number. Sometimes parents get social insurance numbers for their children when they are young (this allows them to contribute to a Registered Education Savings Plan for you).
If you don’t have a social insurance number you can apply for one at a government of Canada Service Centre. You can find a Service Canada Office by going to the Service Canada website.
When you go to apply, you’ll have to have the original of one of these documents:
- Birth certificate
- Certificate of Canadian citizenship
- Permanent resident card
- Work permit or study permit
The application is free.
There are very few situations when you are required to give someone your social insurance number. They mostly have to do with employment, taxation and getting some government services (including student loans).
There is no law that requires you to provide your social insurance number when you apply for a job (but you do have to give it if you get the job), rent a property, cash a cheque, or sign up for a cell phone service. But it’s not illegal for someone to ask for you social insurance number in these situations and there isn’t much you can do about it if they do.
To learn more about when you have to, or don’t have to, provide your social insurance number, see this page of the Service Canada site. It is important to keep your SIN private so it isn’t used to commit fraud.
Employers are expected to hire people on the basis of skills. They can’t refuse to hire you because of your skin colour or your religion. This is discrimination. Many kinds of discrimination are against the law. It is discrimination if someone doesn’t give you a job because of your:
- race or birthplace
- sexual orientation (e.g. gay, bisexual or straight)
- marriage or family status (e.g married, or single)
- gender identity or expression
- mental or physical disability
There are also laws to protect you against discrimination at work.
Accepting a job
When you accept a job you enter into an agreement with your employer. He or she agrees to pay you a salary and other benefits in return for your work.
In BC, there is a law to protect you and your basic rights as a worker. It is called the Employment Standards Act. This law protects most workers. For more information, see the Guide to the Employment Standards Act.