Canada constantly ranks as one of the top immigrant destinations on the planet and we’re not surprised at all. Moving to Canada for work, education or adventure can be a life changing experience. Since the 17th and 18th centuries people have been settling here to take advantage of the opportunity Canada offers. Now, each year about 250,000 new immigrants arrive, eager to experience the breathtaking scenery, economic opportunity, stellar working conditions, top-notch educational system and the sweet, sweet maple syrup. There’s much to love about “The True North Strong and Free,” and we’ve put together a list of 10 of the many reasons why expats love Canada!
Why expats love Canada #1: Canada values freedom
When you arrive in Canada, you will probably notice the ease in which people of diverse backgrounds interact and communicate. From the workplace to the grocery store, the vast majority of Canadians treat each other with respect, kindness, dignity and equality. That’s because Canadians truly value their own human rights, and the freedoms of the people around them. The Canadian Constitution as well as federal, provincial and territorial legislation all have human rights law woven into our DNA. In fact, the constitution states that the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms takes priority over all other legislation in Canada.
Regardless of your economic status, gender, sexuality, or physical ability, your freedoms are protected in Canada. Gay marriage has been legal here since 2005. There is no state-sponsored religion and people are welcome to practice whichever faith they choose (or none at all). Freedom of expression, the right to protest, and the right to vote are all core elements of society. The Canadian track record for tolerance and equality isn’t spotless, but every day the country’s citizens and lawmakers are taking strides to correct past wrongs and ensure equal opportunity and freedom for all people.
The most recent validation on this came in November, when the London-based think tank called “The Legatum Institute” published The 2015 Legatum Prosperity Index and that Canada is the freest country in the world. Canada ranked number one in the Personal Freedom sub-index: 94 per cent of Canadians believe they have the freedom to choose the course of their own lives, 92 per cent of people here think Canada is a good place for immigrants and 92 per cent of Canadians believe it is a good place for ethnic minorities. Well played, Canada!
Why expats love Canada #2: the landscape is picture-perfect
From sea to shining sea, the Canadian landscape offers mesmerizing photo ops everywhere you look. There are the picture-perfect canyons of Nahanni National Park and the uniquely sublime Canadian Badlands, the beautiful rocky coast of the Maritimes, and Northern Lights painting the skies over the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Not to mention all the mountain ranges, the pristine blue waters of Lake Louis and the energizing cityscapes of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. When you first relocate to Canada, you’ll probably pine for the loveliness of your home country, but the sheer beauty of Canada’s diverse landscape is sure to help you quickly fall in love with your new country.
Why expats love Canada #3: public health is a right, not a privilege
The last thing we want to worry about when we or our loved ones are sick or injured is how bills are going to get paid. Canadians may like to whine about long wait times for healthcare services or shortages of primary care doctors, but the bottom line is every Canadian citizen and permanent resident, as well as many temporary residents can walk into a health care facility for consultations, services and treatments without hurling themselves into mountains of debt.
Unlike some other countries that privatize health care (meaning it is only affordable to the richest citizens), access to health care is a fundamental right. It’s the responsibility of provinces and territories to offer public health care plans to residents. Most of these plans come at no cost to health card holders, and they cover a diverse array of services and treatments, from primary care and hospital visits to many medical equipment and emergency visits. No wonder Canadians have a life expectancy rate of more than 81 years and the infant mortality rate is so low.
Why expats love Canada #4: higher education is accessible and attractive to immigrants
For people who are planning to immigrate to North America, and who want to raise families here, the accessibility, quality, and affordability of higher education can be an influential factor in the choice to move to Canada.
No matter what your home country, Canada is an accessible place for immigrants and the children of immigrants to receive quality college and university-level education. In fact, according to a recent Statistics Canada study, Canadian youth with an immigrant background are twice as likely to go to college than their counterparts who have Canadian-born parents. The study showed that while about 50 per cent of students who are immigrants to the country attend university, 31 per cent of students with one immigrant parent attend university, and the number falls to just 25 per cent for students with two parents born in Canada. Why is this? One major reason is that Canadian education officials use affirmative action programs to ensure visible minorities, English-as-a-second-Language students and immigrants have opportunities to be admitted into higher education programs.
The United States may have a reputation as the home to the best universities in the world, but Canada’s colleges and universities also hold themselves to high standards of quality that prepares students to be competitive at an international level. And they do it without putting students under immense amounts of debt. Upon graduation, the average college graduate in 2015 will have about $35,000 of debt right out the door. In Canada, is more affordable than our neighbor to the south. According to College Data, a “moderate” college budget for public colleges and universities in the U.S. was $23,410 for the 2014-2015 school year, and for private schools, the price tag shoots up to $46,272. In Canada, in 2015, the average in-province tuition costs for citizens and permanent residents is $6,191 per year. The lower price tag means the children of immigrants are more likely to have access to education.
Why expats love Canada #5: from poutine to butter tarts, Canada does food right
Canadian has given the world some of it’s most savory snacks and most mouth-watering desserts. Expats who move here get the benefit of exciting their senses right at the source. You may have heard of poutine, our solution to the boring old French fry. We kick fries up a notch by dousing them with rich gravy and melty cheese curds, and often thick pieces of ham, bacon or sausage and any kind of vegetable imaginable. And poutine is just the beginning – welcome to the land of Canadian bacon (a.k.a. peameal bacon), which is lean cured meat served in thick, delicious slices. We also have Tourtière, a mouth-watering Québécois double-crusted meat pie. Alberta is the lands of beef, while British Columbia’s coast is the place to go for some of the world’s best salmon. When it comes to sweets, we’ve got the Vancouver creation Nanaimo bars, a layered treat made of melted chocolate, wafer crumbs and custard cream. Not to mention butter tarts, warm buttery pastry shells dripping with maple syrup, butter and sugar. These delicious dishes only skim the surface Canadian’s sumptuous traditional foods.
As much as we love our traditional foods, Canada’s culinary landscape is also influenced by our rich immigrant culture. We embrace international food and expats delight in the variety of options from all over the world. In the big cities, we’re never far away from an excellent plate of sushi, traditional Italian pizza, a savory Indian thali or an expertly prepared Jamaican bean stew. We even know how to blend culinary traditions, and there’s lots of “fusion” food to choose from. For example, Vancouverites have embraced the japadog – a Japanese version of the hot dog, topped with seaweed or noodles and Japanese mayo.
Why expats love Canada #6: Canada cares about women and children
Two words: Parental Leave.
Two more words: Maternity leave.
In Canada, parents, and especially mothers, are not pressured to choose between raising their children and pursuing their careers. That’s because Canada employers are required to grant new parents up to a fifty-two weeks (yes, an entire year!) of combined maternal and parental leave. While in most provinces, this leave is not paid, the government offers maternity and parental employment insurance. Further, employers must ensure that parents have at the same, or a comparable job to return to, and maintain all the same benefits and coverage – that means no one is getting fired when they have kids here. Beyond that, the Government offers subsidies for childcare to many residents, and there are sorts of other breaks for families, including tax benefits and reduced or free public transportation options for youths.
But wait, here’s more proof that Canada is taking strides to ensure equality amongst men and women. In early November, the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced that his 31-member cabinet includes 15 women. This balance of men and women taking high-level roles in government reflects a deep-set agreement that the time for true equal opportunity between men and women has arrive.
Why expats love Canada #7: the fun doesn’t stop when the weather gets cold
Sure, Canada’s winters are long, with their fair share of winter driving woes, short sunlight hours and temperatures dropping as low as -40 degrees celsius. But wait until you see how Canadian towns and cities transform public parks and mountainsides into winter wonderlands. It’s a myth that people hide away in underground cities and the warmth of their homes. We take to nature! Most Canadians have a favorite winter activity, from ice skating on lakes, rivers and rinks to whizzing down an alpine ski trail or snowshoeing up the side of the mountain, there’s always something fun to do.
Many of our major cities truly celebrate winter with energetic and exciting festivals like the family friendly Winter Carnival in Quebec City, the dance party vibe of Igloofest in Montreal, the Festival du Voyageur in Winnipag, which celebrates francophone heritage with lots of delicious traditional food, and Winterlude in Ottawa, home of the world’s largest skating rink and snow playground. If you really want to get into winter Canuck style, accompany your neighbors onto a country lake for ice fishing or take a freezing dive with them into the ocean for a New Year’s Day Penguin Plunge. You can even visit a majestic ice hotel.
Why expats love Canada #8: The cities are cultural meccas
Canada may be better know for its breathtaking natural beauty, its love of hockey or the friendliness of its people, but it’s also got some of the most underrated cities in the world. Each one has its own unique identity with world-class museums, festivals and entertainment (live music, theatre, opera, dance and so much more), sports teams and innovative businesses. Affordable Montreal is the perfect blend of Francophone culture and youthful spirit. Our largest metropolis, Toronto, is a multicultural hotspot and the country’s financial centre. Ottawa is exciting for political buffs, and offers a blend of suburban and big city living. To the west, Vancouver’s laid-back and health-conscious vibe pairs perfectly with the stunning landscape the surrounds it. From sunny Edmonton to historic Quebec City, from the charm of Halifax to Winnipeg’s diverse economy, you’ll have lots to explore in all of the great Canadian cities.
Why expats love Canada #9: hockey is a cultural institution
Every country has a sport or two that unite people like little else can. If you’re coming from Europe, maybe you’re a die-hard soccer or rugby fan. Folks in India love cricket, and in the U.S. fans pack stadiums and bars to cheer on their favorite football and basketball teams. We love those sports too, but expatriates quickly discover that nothing gets Canadians to show their national pride like hockey.
Hockey is more than a spectator sport, it’s a community and cultural institution. Lakes and ponds transform into hockey rinks. You’ll find games of all levels going on in public parks and state-of-the-art arenas. Women and girls love playing the sport as much as their male counterparts – and everyone has the opportunity to play in community teams if they want to.
After a day of playing the sport themselves, Canadian’s won’t be surprised to find public transportation filled with people sporting the jerseys of their favorite teams, cheering on the way to watch on of our seven National Hockey League teams face off. The excitement revs up during the national drama of playoff season, or during special games, like the 2002 Olympics, when 6 million Canadian hockey fans watched the Canadian’s women’s team win the gold medal, or 1972, when people actually took a day off of work to watch Canada the final game of the 1972 Olympic serves against the Soviet Union.
Chances are you’ll get swept up in the excitement of hockey, and it won’t be long before you’re cheering alongside other Canadians, reading your kids The Hockey Sweater, one of Canada’s most beloved children’s stories. Or learning about Canadian’s hockey legends and history at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Why expats love Canada #10: you’re coming.
Canada was founded on successive waves of immigration, so we understand that diversity is a true national asset. In fact, Canada became one of the first countries on the planet to adopt an official multiculturalism policy. In 1971, the Multicultural Act of Canada allowed Canadians to keep their cultural identities and practice their chose religion without the fear of being persecuted. It ensures that Canada respects and recognizes all diversity included in society, from language and customs to religion, and it guarantees equality before the law.
Today, the populations of Canada’s largest cities are growing thanks to immigration. More than half of Toronto’s residents were born outside of the country. To help skilled people relocate to Canada, most of the provinces and territories have Provincial Nominee Programs, which allow people with skills, education and experience to get here smoothly. We even have an Express Entry program to help qualified people get to Canada quicker and with less paperwork, and connect to employers.
From all of us here at Settle-in.com, and from Canadians from across the country, welcome!
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