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Summer in Toronto

When people think of summer in Toronto, they probably picture themselves on the patio, drinking a nice cold beverage by the pool, the warm summer breeze and the appetizing smell of barbecue. It just doesn’t get any better, does it? But summer is also time for fun and in this energetic city a “delicious” event is on its way.

If you are about to travel to Toronto this summer, then you’re going to be in the right place at the right time! This dynamic city not only offers the usual holiday events all summer long, but it also hosts one of the best food festival in North America; and what is better than having a relaxed sunny day by the lake while enjoying a tasty meal?

May I Present Summerlicious!

No, it’s not a word from the Fergie’s song Fergalicious. This event is Toronto’s most appetizing culinary celebration and it runs for two tasty weeks in July every year. Summerlicious was created in 2003 to promote Toronto’s distinctive hospitality industry. Many restaurants decided to join the program to share with tourists and residents, the diverse and exquisite cuisine of the city.

Summerlicious consists of a three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus, served up at extraordinary prices. The program is offered by 200 of Toronto’s dining establishments; a wide spectrum of choices which will allow you to enjoy your favorite spot or discover new places.

For participating restaurants, please check the link: Summerlicious .

There is more…

If you were thinking that Summerlicious is the ultimate event, then you need to keep reading, because this food celebration is only one of the countless attractions that Toronto has in store for you this summer!

The Rec Room

Bring out your inner child in this massive indoor playground. Be playful and mind free surrounded by video games, virtual reality and live entertainment and then chill out at their dining room with a delicious Canadian-inspired cuisine.

Indigenous Arts Festival

Canadians care deeply about their indigenous communities. These people, also known as Native Canadians or Aboriginal Canadians, represent the first inhabitants of North America, arrived in Canada at least 15,000 years ago! To celebrate these communities, Toronto hosts an annual festival with dance, contemporary indigenous music, theatre, film, storytelling and food.

Corno & Warhol

The Canadian artist Joanne Corneau, better known as Corno, is remembered in an outstanding pop art exhibition this July. It is a deep dive in Corno’s world, strongly influenced by the great artist Andy Warhol, with the result of extraordinary art works in a vibrant pop art style.

Grease

In this cosmopolitan and busy city, intellectual lifestyle is not set aside. Theatres are still part of the Canadian culture, indeed, going to the theatre is considered a quite glamour event. If musical is your thing then you can’t absolutely miss Grease! The acclaimed Broadway choreographer and director, Josh Prince, comes to the city with a fresh revival of one of the greatest high school rock musical ever.

A Walk In The Nature

Summer is the right time to explore. Toronto offers various guided walking tours and nature hikes in the barren lands of the Ontario area. Many volunteer scientists, historians and local naturalists will help you explore the many significant features of the local natural ecosystem.

Jazz On The Beach

Rediscover the jazz era these summer nights in the heart of Toronto’s lake side beaches. Jazz music, multiple stages, street fest and tasty gourmet food trucks are ready for you!

Catch A Free Movie

Do you remember the typical American date night with couples watching a movie in a cabriolet, in front of a large outdoor movie screen? Well, this summer, grab a chair or a blanket and go watch a free movie under the starry sky. Toronto’s numerous parks and parking lots are set up for outdoor cinema and will create a magical atmosphere.

Time To Get Sporty

For every sport lover, a visit to Rogers Centre is a must! Head to the gigantic stadium to cheer on one of Canada’s major sports teams.

Go Swimming

We know it can sound weird cause there is no sea nearby but many of Toronto’s local Hotels provide the best outdoor pools in the area. So, if you don’t fancy a swim in the lake, get a day pass for a soothing day at one of the luxurious locations; check the link yellowpages.ca .

Explore Rouge Park

Not far from the skyscrapers of downtown there is a whole wilderness area: the country’s first national urban park. Rouge Park is a unique natural setting in the midst of Ontario’s capital; a nice walk through a charming forest populated by several species of plants and animals and surrounded by the waters of Lake Ontario.

Camping On The Island

In Canada, it’s not summer if you don’t go camping and Toronto has got something more than the typical camp in the woods. Just in front of this great metropolis, a chain of small islands rule Lake Ontario. The Toronto Islands are a great place where you can relax and go camping on the beach.

Still thinking of staying home this summer? Catch the next flight to Toronto and drop by for a visit. Maybe you’ll want to hang around for Winterlicious.…..to be continued.

Our team is waiting for you!!

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Summer Language Experience in Canada

Summer is just around the corner and this means it’s time for you to start thinking how you want to spend the next couple of months. Take the stress out of holiday planning and let Serving People Group (SPG) organize your English learning experience in one of the most desired destinations in the world.

So, this year, why don’t you spice up your summer?! At SPG we are ready for you and we want to help you make your holidays an incredible experience you will never forget!

What is the weather like?

We know you may have heard that Canada is always cold. But let us tell you, summer, here, isn’t a myth! We do enjoy beautiful, warm and hot days every year. Summer is an explosion of colors and there are so many outdoor activities that you will find hard to resist. You can relax at a lakeside cottage, you can go hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, camping…and if you are a city lover most of our urban destinations like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, are full of opportunities to get the party going with events, music festivals, delicious food markets and art exhibitions, to name a few.

We believe that the best way to have a well-rounded experience is to immerse yourself in the culture and society and while enjoying the diversity in habits and different lifestyles. Exploring a completely unfamiliar country will make you feel like you’re creating a new relationship with yourself. Anything out of the ordinary is intriguing, unexpected. You can meet people from all over the world just simply sitting in a coffee shop or while walking down the streets of a big city.

Invest in your summer! It’s not too late to organize a new trip and create a memorable adventure. We will give you all the help you need in finding the best way to enjoy this beautiful country.

So far, we talked about how exciting summer can be in Canada and how being directly in contact with the north American society can make a huge, positive impact in your life. But how can you make this happen?

We understand that for some the language barrier can be intimidating, but what may seem as an obstacle now is simply your point of departure! Canada is, in fact, well known for its great school system and for the numerous foreign students that visit every year. Various Canadian provinces are home to many excellent English Language Institutes. They offer a wide variety of programs that cater to all ages, from children to adults.  Additionally, a study plan can provide you the opportunity to stay in the country longer if your desire is to pursue further studies.

SPG has partnered with various language schools that provide short-term programs specifically designed for the summer months. These schools combine English studies and activities allowing you to enjoy your stay to the fullest while enhancing your English skills. Most language schools can be found in these three dynamic cities: Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. Regardless of which city you choose, each location provides an excellent education and will ensure that each day of your stay is filled with learning, trips, sightseeing and events.

Let’s have a closer look at the locations…

Why Toronto?

If you’re looking for a modern, cosmopolitan city, then Toronto is a perfect fit for you. Located on Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes in North America, it is a gateway to many famous destinations in this vast region; including the majestic Niagara Falls, the beautiful castle of Casa Loma and the Toronto Islands. Art, business and fashion are just some of the many characteristics that make this city so charming and appealing.  It is also home to many famous singers and hosts an International Film Festival every year! Not to be missed is the CN Tower tour: a 553.3 m-high observation tower, located in the heart of Toronto that offers a spectacular view of the entire metropolitan area. But beyond the energetic city life there is an unlimited choice of parks, gardens and conservation areas where you will feel completely connected to nature and where you can enjoy various outdoor activities with your friends.

Why Vancouver?

Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, in the province of British Columbia. The city has a wide diversity of natural scenery because of its geographical position, beautifully surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and majestic mountain ranges. Vancouver will surprise you with its multicultural society and a very friendly people. In fact, it has been coined the “city of neighborhoods”. Vancouver hosts the second largest Chinatown in North America and is home to many ethnic backgrounds and religions. It’s also the city of food lovers, its people are proud of their local cuisine and chefs. The Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge is one of the most beautiful attractions located in a spectacular second-growth rainforest, and the park that surrounds the bridge offers a range of hiking trails for all abilities.

Why Victoria?

Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia and it grows on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It’s a clean and charming harbor city, rich in history but still progressive and modern. You can take relaxing walks along the harbor or visit the peculiar Victoria Butterfly Garden: a small tropical jungle where butterflies of all shapes and colors live safely among ponds, plants, turtles, flamingos, parrots, iguanas and many other animal species.

If, at the end of your summer experience, you decide that you would like to extend your learning experience in Canada, don’t worry! SPG can help you explore the various study opportunities, from finding the College or University that best suits your needs, to obtaining the necessary permits. What better way to enrich your resume if not with an excellent international education and valuable foreign work experience; two attributes highly appreciated by prospective employers.

We hope that we have inspired your imagination and that you can see your Canadian adventure begin to take shape. Let us help you make this dream a reality!

 

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Study in Canada

Canada is home to a large variety of universities and colleges, each with an ever- growing list of programs and courses. Coming to Canada to study is exciting, but it can also be a scary and overwhelming experience if you don’t know where to start. Serving People group (SPG) will guide you through each step of the process to ensure your new journey is a memorable one. SPG will work with you in the search for the educational institution that best fits your study goals and economic needs.

WHY STUDY IN CANADA?

What comes to mind when you think of Canada?

Breathtaking views, large lakes, the explosion of colors when fall comes, the big cities? You will find a bit of everything here.  There is so much to see and many things to do! What better way to experience Canadian life than to choose a good study pathway which will allow you dive in the culture and society of this great country?

Canada is, without a doubt, one of the largest countries in the world. It’s home to ten provinces and 3 territories, each with unique characteristics, first-rate education and diverse study opportunities.  It is known for its safe and friendly communities. You have probably heard about Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal. These well-known cities aren’t just famous because of their large metropolitan areas, they are the most important hubs of the Canadian economy and some of the best places to enrich your cultural knowledge and build solid foundations for future career opportunities. However, no matter which city you choose to live and study in, you will not be disappointed as you will be sure to receive a top-notch education that you will be proud to show off on your resume!

OUR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Canada is widely considered as one of the most livable countries in the world. It’s affordable and known for its political stability, safety and excellent health care. The country welcomes thousands of international students from all over the world each year. No matter where you are from, Canada will always make you feel at home and you will have the experience of a lifetime.

From business schools educating future CEO’s of global corporations to medical schools training the doctors of tomorrow, the curriculums are developed to give theoretical and real-world experience.

Now you are probably wondering…how much is it going to cost?  You’ll be glad to know that Canada’s cost of living and tuition fees are generally much lower than those in other English-speaking countries. And thanks to its numerous institutions you will have the freedom to choose between part-time and full-time programs, as well as on-the-job training through internships.

It’s good to know that:

  • Tuition fees vary based on program of study, but for most courses the tuition is less compared to other western counterparts. And when the tuition is affordable, the payment doesn’t become a burden, so you can focus on your education and ensure you complete your program.
  • If English isn’t your first language, you might need to take a test to demonstrate your English ability. So, make sure to first check with the institution to verify what test and scores they will accept.
  • Before applying for a study permit, you must have a letter of acceptance from the institution of your choice.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STUDY PERMIT?

A Canadian study permit will allow you to stay in the country for the duration of your course. If your course lasts for less than six months, you’re even luckier, in this case you won’t need to request a study permit. For anyone whose program lasts longer, however, you will need to apply for a Canadian study permit. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you!

One of the best benefits about having a Canadian study permit, besides being able to study, is the possibility to work on-campus or even off-campus during your program of study. Thus giving you a well-rounded experience of the Canadian life and the opportunity to find employment opportunities.

STUDENT LIFE

Campuses across the country have vibrant student life with a variety of activities you can take part in. From joining an athletic team to a club based on an interest you have; your student experience will be amazing.  Universities and colleges have departments dedicated to helping you find ways to get involved in your campus community and really take advantage of everything your education will offer you. Adopting an open mind to trying new things will enhance your experience in Canada.

When planning to come to Canada, coming a few days early will help you to familiarize yourself with your new city and the campus you’re living on.

Student life departments will help you find housing, create or find clubs to join, organize social events, and much more. While you may be moving to a country on your own, where you don’t know anyone, you will not be alone when you’re here!

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Is it worth it?  You will find the education you receive in Canada will open limitless doors to your future, and you will have fantastic opportunities: from furthering your education to graduate school to finding internships or co-op programs to help you gain valuable work experience in your field. There is no question that studying in Canada will give you a competitive edge on the world stage, and foundations that will serve you well wherever you go.  Having a Canadian education may also make it easier for you to obtain permanent residence if it becomes part of your long-term goals.

Regardless of where you choose to study in Canada or for how long, Serving People Group can help you with all your questions and ensure you are ready for your Canadian educational experience. Our team of professionals will assist you from choosing the educational institution that is suited to your educational goals and budget, as well as, any visa or permit requirements necessary to begin your journey.

SPG awaits you!

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Canadian Income Tax Season

At the end of February, each and every year, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) opens the tax season and Canadians across the country begin filing their income tax for the previous calendar year. Whether you were born in Canada, or have recently started your life here, every person who is employed in Canada has to file income tax.

If this is your first time filing Canadian taxes it might seem confusing and you’re unsure where to go or how to get help. Here is some helpful information as to when you need to file, how to file, what you can expect and where to go if you need help.

April 30th

For personal income tax filings, you need to ensure you’ve filed by April 30th for the previous calendar year. Filing by this date helps to avoid penalties, or even interest, on any amounts you may owe on your taxes. If you are late in filing but you don’t owe anything on your taxes, you may not have to pay any penalties but that doesn’t mean you won’t take a small financial hit. If you file after April 30th the government may hold onto any refund you’re eligible for, or delay the processing, and it could delay receiving GST or HST installments during the year.

 What if you owe on your return

If your income tax filing states you owe money, meaning you should have paid more in income tax during the year, you have until April 30th to pay the balance to the government. Starting May 1st you will begin to incur interest on any outstanding balance you haven’t paid yet. The penalty starts at around 5% owing plus 1% of the balance owing for each full month it is late.

What if you don’t file at all

Not filing your income tax could result in serious financial implications for you. If you fail to file income tax twice in a four year period you could find yourself facing a “repeated failure to report income” penalty. This penalty is 20% of the total income that was earned and not reported in the most recent year.

After you file

Once you, or your authorized representative, have filed your income tax the government will begin preparing your Notice of Assessment (NOA). The Notice of Assessment is a summary of your income you’re being assessed on, a zero balance refund, your total refund or amount owing. It will also show any deductions you are eligible for, and it will contain the Home Buyer’s Plan information if you qualify.  This statement will typically be mailed to you once the government has completed your assessment, but there is a service offered by CRA called Express NOA that allows access to your assessment much sooner than waiting for it to be mailed.

Express NOA

This service is secure and offered by CRA so that you, or your authorized representative, can view your NOA immediately after the return has been received and processed by the CRA. In order to use this service, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be registered for MyAccount
  • Be registered for online mail
  • Use a NETFILE-certified software that offers express NOA service

It’s important to note that if you are having your tax prepared and filed by an authorized representative on your behalf and you select to have the NOA made available electronically, the CRA will not send a paper copy of the NOA to you and the assessment will only be available electronically to the individual who prepared your taxes.

Filing Taxes with Serving People Group

Our income tax service is highly qualified and offers an extensive range of financial expertise to help ensure all your tax needs are met. Our professionals are here to help you with all kinds of tax needs. Outside of our extensive experience, there are many other benefits to working with Serving People Group for filing your tax needs.

We offer appointments to fit your schedule and ensure we are meeting when it’s best for you. Booking this appointment guarantees that our experts are giving you completely undivided attention to properly assess you financial situations and we completely understand your situation.

Serving People Group also gives you ongoing assistance, and it isn’t just a one time appointment. Contacting and working with us means you will receive continuous assistance in preparing your taxes. When your income tax is ready to file we will also complete the electronic filing process on your behalf, at no additional charge to you.

On top of filing your taxes for you, we will communicate with CRA on your behalf should there be any complications or need for additional information. We can also review any previous filings you completed to ensure they were completed correctly, or correct any items that were incorrect and file them again for you.

A copy of your income tax return will be provided to you when the filing is completed so you can retain it for your records. Further, many of our staff are bilingual so if you feel more comfortable communicating in a language other than English we can help.

Our Offices

We have multiple offices in Ontario and British Columbia to help you with tax preparation. In Ontario, we have offices located in Hamilton, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Toronto, Vaughan and Woodbridge. In British Columbia, our office is located in Burnaby.

Booking an Appointment

We offer appointments based on your schedule, and we would be happy to schedule time to work with you when it’s convenient for you. You can contact us by the following methods

Email: canada@servingpeoplegroup.com

Phone: (905) 605-8181

Toll Free: 1 (800) 269-0065

Filing your taxes every year is important, but when the process is different from what you’re used to it can be overwhelming. We are here to help you make sure you have filed correctly and all the paperwork is in order. We want to help you and make your experience in Canada stress free.

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What You Need to Know When Filing Your 2017 Canadian Tax Return

Filing income tax returns can be a daunting task for those who have lived in Canada their entire lives, so it’s understandable when new immigrants find the process confusing. Even if you have lived in this country for many years, it is important to remember that tax rules change – expenses and credits that you were able to claim last year may not be available to you this year, and benefits that were not available last year may be available this year.

Fortunately there is help available to make sure you can get your 2017 Canadian income taxes filed properly and on time. Serving People Group (SPG) specializes in a number of professional services including income tax filing for individuals and businesses and with your permission, we will communicate with Revenue Canada on your behalf.

The following is an overview of some of the things you will need to know when filing your 2017 income tax return. For specific advice on your situation, contact the team at SPG.

What’s new for this year’s tax returns?

If you submitted a Canadian tax return last year, there are a number of changes that you should be aware of for this year.

The following are some new and expanded tax deductions for 2017:

  • Students and those seeking job retraining may benefit from the fact that the government has enhanced eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, and artists’ projects grants exemptions. Exemptions have been expanded to include scholarships and bursaries for non-post-secondary occupational skills courses.
  • Eligible medical expenses have been expanded to include medical intervention for individuals trying to conceive a child.
  • The family caregiver amount has been replaced by the Canada Caregiver amount. This entitles caregivers to claim up to $2150 for certain expenses related to caring for a mentally or physically impaired person and up to an additional $6883 which is determined by the income of the dependent.
  • Finally, new rules for 2017 allow nurses to determine eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit. While the credit itself remains unchanged, having more medical practitioners who can make this determination may help to decrease wait times for those applying for the tax credit.

The following are some of deductions which are being eliminated for 2017:

  • The deduction for federal education and textbooks has been eliminated.
  • The child arts and fitness tax credits have been eliminated
  • The federal public transit amount is being phased out. You may still claim monthly transit passes that were purchased before June 30, 2017 however any fees paid after this time are not eligible.

If I’m new to Canada, do I even need to file income tax?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might think. Canadian residency for tax purposes and Canadian residency for immigration purposes are not the same thing. If you are at all unsure, it is wise to get advice from a professional.

You might be a considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes if any of the following are true:

  • You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You are a refugee (protected person).
  • You have received approval-in-principle to stay in Canada from the Canadian government.
  • You are a temporary resident such as a foreign worker or foreign student.

You are considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes when you establish residential ties including:

  • Purchasing a home in Canada.
  • Having a spouse, common-law partner or dependents come to Canada to live with you.
  • Owning personal property in Canada including a car.
  • Having other significant social ties in Canada.

What if I’ve only been a Canadian resident for part of the year?

If you were a new immigrant to Canada in 2017, you will have to report your earnings both from Canadian sources and elsewhere during the time you were a Canadian resident. Prior to that time period in the same year, you are only required to report income that came from Canadian sources. Because Canada has tax treaties with over 90 other countries, you should be able to avoid double taxation. Some of these tax treaties may make some of your income such as spousal support tax free. This income can be deducted on your 2017 tax return on line 256.

In the event that you are not sure of the exact date that you legally became a Canadian resident, you will be required to fill out and submit form NR74 (Determination of Residency Status) to CRA and they will then make a determination as to the date you should use on your tax return.

Why work with SPG to file your 2017 Canadian tax return?

As a new Canadian taxpayer, you have several choices when it comes to filing your return. You may file on your own using either a tax filing software program or with Revenue Canada’s paper return or you may take your taxes to a professional to have them filed.

Here are just a few reasons why our customers come back to us time and again for their yearly tax returns:

  • Express Notice of Assessment – this is a secure online service that lets clients see their notice of assessment (NOA) as soon as it has been received and processed by Canada Revenue. Your NOA will give you important tax details including your RRSP contribution room and amount of tax refund or tax owing.
  • SPG offers personal attention. We assess your specific situation and needs when filing your tax return. Appointments can be booked at the time and office location most convenient for you.
  • E-filing is done at no additional cost, meaning that you can be assured that returns are accurate and timely.
  • We can communicate with CRA on your behalf.
  • We can review tax returns from previous years.
  • Year round assistance with any of your tax concerns.
  • Our bi-lingual staff can provide service in English and Italian.

If you would like the employ the confidential and professional services of SPG for filing your 2017 Canadian income tax return, then contact us today to book an appointment. During the months of March and April our offices have extended hours, so that you can arrange a time that is most convenient for you.

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5 Tips for Studying English as a Second Language

As a student coming to Canada or the USA you may need to study english before you start your program. If you don’t have any of TOEFL or IELTS english scores, don’t worry! You can still study in any field of study. You will be required to study english for two months to one year depending on your English proficiency. You will be studying English at the same university/college you get accepted to in Canada or the USA and then start your main program.

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Niagara College

Niagara College is located near one of the world’s natural wonders, Niagara Falls, a place where more than 15 million tourists come and visit every year. Since opening our doors in 1967 and expanding into other parts of the Niagara Region, Niagara College has grown to become a leader in applied education and training, consistently ranking among Ontario’s top colleges for student satisfaction.

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Hansa Language Centre

Founded in 1969, Hansa Language Centre is one of the largest and most established language schools in Canada. Hansa offers a huge variety of English classes, a flexible schedule, and a long list of trips, excursions, sports and social activities. We also offer teacher training programs as well as a number of foreign language programs for Canadians, such as French, Spanish, German and Mandarin.

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University of Ontario Institute of Technology

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) is in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. At the university we combine hands-on learning with innovative and relevant research in a technology-enriched learning environment. Our graduates are prepared with the knowledge and skills needed to excel and lead in the evolving workplace.

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Starting a Business

Follow this step-by-step guide with useful tips and planning advice to guide you through the process of starting a business in Canada. We are here to assist you and to provide you with information on how to start a new journey, beginning from a business plan, through securing financing and choosing your business name and location, up to licenses and registration processes.

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