This issue’s resettlement sitrep focuses on a destinations highly popular with many Brits – Canada!
Canada isn’t the US – which is either a huge plus or a big minus, depending on what you’re looking for in life! Most Canadians, though, like being different from their southern neighbours. Both nations are, of course, built on immigration, but the general view is that Canada has a much more relaxed and pluralistic society – officially confirmed by the 1988 Multiculturalism Act. Successive governments have encouraged racial and ethnic harmony, promoted cross-cultural understanding and discouraged hatred, discrimination and violence.
Modern Canada regularly appears near (or indeed at) the top of numerous international ‘quality of life’ surveys. It has an excellent education system (with the highest tertiary education enrolment in the world) and an economy that, though certainly hit by the financial meltdown (the US is Canada’s major trading partner), remains among the strongest in the world thanks to its large natural resources – and could be among the earliest nations to break out of the recession.
So, is it any wonder that thousands of people from around the world wish to settle in Canada? Around 260,000 people took an oath of citizenship in 2006; could you soon be joining them?
Here are 30 useful things to know about Canada.
Canada is the ninth-biggest economy in the world, the world’s eighth-biggest trader, and in the top five when it comes to the production of natural gas and metals including copper, zinc, aluminium, nickel and gold.
Though its economy is – typical of any developed nation – dominated by the Service Industries, Canada continues to have a relatively large primary sector, which is particularly important in some provinces and territories. For example, forestry/logging dominates British Columbia’s economy, while the oil industries overshadows Alberta and Newfoundland & Labrador.
Canada is one of the few developed nations that is a net exporter of energy, thanks to the large oil and gas resources centred in Alberta and the Northern Territories and relatively inexpensive hydroelectric networks in British Columbia, Quebec and elsewhere.
Much of Canadian manufacturing (particularly the car industry located largely in southern Ontario) consists of branch plants of US firms, which has raised real concerns about the commitment of US and other foreign firms to jobs in Canada.
According to The Economist, Canada’s economy remains fundamentally strong, but is currently experiencing its worst recession since the 1930s – and is unlikely to exit this until 2011, thanks to a sluggish US economy and other contracted export markets.
Canada’s trade balance has been pushed into deficit for the first time since the 1970s, thanks in part to falling prices for its natural resources – prices for these are expected to strengthen from 2010.
Unemployment is currently at 8.4% (May 2009), the highest figure in 11 years, compared to the UK’s 7.2% (June 2009).
Inflation is currently at 0.1%, compared with the UK’s 2.2% (both May 2009).
House prices dropped by 1.44% during the first quarter of 2009 (source: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) with expectations of recovery not until late 2009/2010. In the UK, the equivalent figure saw a drop of 4.54% (source: Nationwide)
Canadian banks managed to avoid the worst of the financial collapse that dominated the US and UK economies during 2008.
New Canadians are expected to be able to speak English or French; to obey the law and abide by Canadian values and to understand and respect the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – both of which forbid discrimination based on ethnic origin, race, religion, gender, age or disability.
Canada’s universal health care system is publicly funded through provincial/territorial taxation. It does not cover glasses or most dental care, though the exact coverage differs between individual provinces and territories. As medical care isn’t automatically covered outside your own province/territory; private health insurance may be required even when travelling within Canada. More: www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Ethnically diverse – more than half of the population do not count English as their first language – the west coast city of Vancouver is, according to Forbes, the 10th cleanest city in the world and is consistently ranked among the top three of the world’s most liveable cities.
Forbes lists Toronto among the world’s top 10 most economically powerful cities. It’s Canada’s financial capital and also boasts North America’s third-largest concentration of private IT companies.
Automatic taxation in Canada can deduct between 25% and 35% of your income (depending on where you live), contributing to income tax, Canadian/provincial pension plans, employment insurance and any other agreed deductions. You can expect to pay additional tax on goods and services; usually 5% to the federal government and an additional provincial sales tax of between 7%-10% — although Alberta, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon do not have a provincial/territorial sales tax.
House prices in Canada are relatively low – the Canadian average is CA$274,000 (£146,000) – when compared with other western countries and, in common with most developed countries, have been dropping. Prices are naturally highest in the main cities, and the relatively mild climate of the west coast. In contrast, you can pick up a bargain in the likes of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, assuming you can withstand the severe winter weather and general remoteness.
The cost of living is less than in the UK, although this is balanced by generally lower salaries compared to those available in the US, UK and Northern Europe. Petrol costs are certainly lower, despite a rollercoaster of price rises and falls during 2008.
If you intend to work or run a business in Quebec, it’s advisable that you’re able to speak French fluently, as there is a degree of hostility to English speakers in the province.
Violent crime rates are significantly lower in Canada than in the US, although disparities in other crimes (for example, vehicle theft was 22% in Canada in 2006) mean that the gap between the two countries is less than the homicide rate might suggest.
Canada has an excellent choice of public, independent and private schools with high standards across the country. Fees for studying at college or university vary across the provinces, but most courses are partly subsidised through taxation.
Canada is the second-largest country in the world after the Russian Federation. At 9,093,507km2 it’s 37 times the size of the UK, but has only slightly more than half the UK’s population (33 million).
Nearly 90% of Canadians live within 200 km of the US border, meaning the country contains vast expanses of wilderness to the north. Almost a third of Canadians live in the country’s three largest cities: Toronto in Ontario (5.1 million); Montreal in Quebec (3.6 million); and Vancouver in British Columbia (2.1 million).
Canada’s official capital – a selection made, originally, by Queen Victoria – is Ottawa in Ontario (812,000).
Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and three territories. The 10 provinces are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (Western Canada); Quebec and Ontario (Central Canada); and New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador (Atlantic Canada). The three territories are Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut (Northern Canada).
Unlike the UK, Canada’s provinces and territories enjoy considerable economic and political autonomy from the national government; because they are responsible for areas including healthcare, education and welfare, the provinces uniquely collect more tax revenue than the national federal government.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy and federal state with a democratically elected parliament; formerly a Dominion of the British Empire, it officially became a country in 1982.
Canada’s two official languages are English and French; the latter is spoken by more than nine million Canadians.
The country has six time zones; east coast Newfoundland & Labrador is three and a half hours behind Greenwich Mean Time; west-coast Vancouver is eight hours behind GMT.
Popular sports in Canada include ice hockey, swimming, cross-country and alpine skiing, baseball, tennis, basketball, soccer and golf. The biggest spectator sports are ice hockey and Canadian Football.
Canada is home to slightly more women than men, especially in the cities. Men tend to outnumber women in rural areas.
EMIGRATING TO CANADA
You can follow four main routes to settle permanently in Canada; three national programmes covering skilled workers, family and business or a separate initiative run by Canada’s provincial governments. Success in all depends on gaining a sufficiently high score on a points system, which you can find more about from the Canadian High Commission Immigration Section (020 7258 6699, www.canada.org.uk) in London, or specialist commercial agencies such as Four Corners Emigration (0845 841 9453, www.fourcorners.net) and Migration Expert (020 7494 6464, www.migrationexpert.com). Agencies are useful as they can offer self-assessment tests which giving you a realistic view of your chances of success.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Canadian driving licences are issued by each Province and Territory. If you’re moving to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, or Newfoundland & Labrador (and can prove you’ve had at least two years’ safe driving experience in the UK), you’ll be able to exchange your DVLA-issued licence for its Canadian equivalent*. Elsewhere, to get a Canadian licence, you will need to sit the relevant written and practical road test to earn – which in some Provinces can take up to two years. UK licences will be accepted for any period between 30 days and six months after arrival, depending on location.
*UK licences issued in Northern Ireland are not currently included in these arrangements.
(Information: Foreign & Commonwealth Office)