Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Collecting Cards

So now I go out to collect various documents/cards that people recommended I get ASAP. These are the SIN and Manitoba Health Card. I'll also pick up a library card since I'm already downtown. Mean leaves earlier than usual so she could show me where to go. I bring my Passport and the now attached Confirmation of Permanent Residence.

So my wife leads me to the bus stop. It's still freakin cold by the way. Unlike in the Philippines, you can't just stand anywhere in the bus' route and expect to be able to get on. Mean also explains to me how to find out when a bus is scheduled to get to a stop but it's all too much for my brain. So the bus arrives and we get on. Mean bought me some bus tickets before I arrived. She uses a monthly bus pass though. For now, she lets me use her pass and she uses the tickets. The bus is about the same width and height as Philippine buses but probably shorter. Of course, they have heating. In order to get down, you can either pull one of the chords on either side of the bus or buttons near the door. Again, you can only get down in a designated bus stop. I'll post something more informative about the bus system when I absorb everything properly.

Downtown is about 45 minutes away. We get down at blabla street, enter blabla building which happens to be blabla mall. Finally we arrive at blabla building which happens to have Service Canada's office. Yes, that's how it all sounded and looked to me. You can go here to find a Service Canada office near you. Most likely, this is where we went. Service Canada is like is like a one-stop service for you to avail of various services offered by the Canadian (Federal) Government. For my purposes today it would be for applying for a SIN card/number.

So Mean tells me to line up at this counter. Apparently, for whatever service you require, the attendant can point you to the right direction. After a short wait I arrive at the counter and state that I want to get a SIN. She asked me if I had my requirements (I think the Passport and CoPR was enough), gave me a form and sent me to a waiting area. After another short wait, this guy in a turban called me to follow him. Another nice exposure to diversity. So all he did was confirm my information before he entered it into the system. After this, he printed something out and handed it to me. I now have my Social Insurance Number. My card should arrive in a couple of weeks. That all took less than an hour. Maybe even less than 30 minutes. Fast service. That's something I'm not used to.

Next was the health card. Again we passed through blablabla. Health care in Canada is handled by the Provincial government. So here, it was Manitoba Provincial Government. Upon entering, we got a number and waited. A short while later it was our turn at one of the available counters. The lady was very nice and courteous as she did her work. Me and Mean decided to have a joint card (if that's what it's called). Soon, I had my health card. Again, real quick. More information on Manitoba health here. There's also answers to Frequently asked questions here.

The library card was up next. Again, how we got there was bla bla bla. I just know we passed through a lot of buildings through a series of elevated walkways. It's really great given the weather outside. Soon we arrive at the Millenium Library. I hear it was renovated quite recently. I don't know what it looked like before but it's quite a beautiful and modern looking building in it's current form. There's a nice image gallery here. Anyway, we just go to the front desk and request for a card. I fill out a form, wait a bit, and I have my library card. So fast, ho hum. More info on the Winnipeg Public Library system here.

Now it's time for Mean to go to work. Thankfully, we can get to her building again without stepping outside. I really love those walkways. Now I have to kill around 5 hours. I decide to head back to the library to do some job searching on the net. It wasn't hard to get back as the walkways didn't really have too many tough "forks". I decide to check the place out floor by floor without taking the elevator. Actually, the internet terminals were full so I had to keep moving. Eventually, there was a free slot. You have to use your library card and the password they gave to use the computers. You can also remotely reserve computers if I understand correctly. I wasn't able to do much thanks to the time limit. So off I go to find something else to do.

I decide to go back to that mall we passed by. Surprisingly I didn't get lost. I guess my sense of direction isn't so bad after all. So the name of the mall is Portage Place. I kill a few more minutes walking around. The mall is 3 levels high, with the movie houses in the 3rd floor. That's eventually where I ended up. On a bench near the theaters, looking like Forrest Gump. I probably spent over an hour there. Thankfully Mean called and told me she was able to get off work early. I head on back to her building to meet her. When I get there, I meet her friend and officemate Paula. She seems very nice. Me and Mean head back to the library to check out Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press which contains a large Careers section. Nothing for me though. Oh, I also spotted a Philippine Daily Inquirer copy. So we head for the nearest bus stop (that's part of our bus route) and head home.

So that was a pretty productive day. I'm now realizing that it's gonna take quite a while to grow accustomed to the places and the way things are done. I've also witnessed firsthand how quickly things are done here. I really hope the Philippines, especially the government, reaches this level of efficiency in my lifetime. We can dream right?

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