Living in Canada

Outstanding natural beauty, vibrant cities and a high standard of living make Canada an attractive country to emigrate to. With a total land area more than 40 times that of the UK, Canada is the second largest country in the world. Because of its size, Canada's climate varies greatly from place to place.The north is within the Arctic Circle and is almost entirely ice-bound, yet the southernmost point is on the same latitude as sunny California.


Canada's distinct seasons attract large numbers of tourists who come for the beautiful autumn scenes, the outdoor pursuits and wildlife in the summer, and of course the skiing in the winter. With ten provinces and three territories covering mountains, lakes, coast and prairie lands, Canada has something for everyone.


Politics and economy


The Canadian parliament is made up of the Senate and the House of Commons for which there are elections every five years.The government is run by a prime minister who is the leader of the majority party.The British monarch is head of state. The major issue in Canada is the relationship between the English- and French-speaking areas, which could result in a split in the federation.


Canada has high living standards and low interest rates. Unemployment is slightly higher than in the UK, but it has been falling steadily for more than a decade. In terms of industry, the service sector has been growing in importance and now accounts for around three out of every four jobs. International trade, especially with the USA, plays a large role.



In Canada, individual provinces or states run their own education, and there is no national ministry. However, the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) acts as a forum for coordinating education nationally. Primary and secondary education is free and is compulsory from the age of 5 to 7 until 16 to 18. The school year runs from September to June.


As well as publicly run schools, there are private schools and colleges.These must meet government standards but do not have to follow the curriculum. Home schooling is possible in all provinces.


There are 90 universities in Canada, 64 of which teach in English, 20 in French and six in a combination of both.Tuition fees must be paid at all colleges and universities except in Quebec, where residents may attend free. UK students must obtain a visa to study in Canada.



Canada has a publicly funded system for necessary healthcare, known as Medicare. It is provided on a needs rather than ability-to-pay basis. In most provinces, there are some restrictions on what Medicare will cover, for example dental care, ambulances, prescription drugs and spectacles. To have access to Canadian healthcare you will need a health insurance card, which is available from doctors and hospitals as well as immigration services. In some provinces, there is a waiting period during which time you will need to get short-term private medical insurance. Preventative healthcare, such as immunisation, is key in Canada. Before becoming a permanent resident you will need to have a medical examination and may have to have another one when you arrive.



Canada has a multicultural society, which is refl ected in its food and drink. Although there are no particular national dishes, there is access to a wide range of food, especially seafood along the coastal regions. Maple syrup is probably Canada's best known fare, and pancakes, steak, stew and clam chowder (a kind of thick seafood soup) are all popular foods.




Pets are allowed into the country but you will need a certificate to show that they have had a rabies injection within the previous 36 months. The Pet Travel Scheme (PET) could allow you to avoid quarantine. Seeing-eye dogs are allowed access without restriction both to the country itself and to shops, restaurants and other businesses.


Retirement and pensions


There are two main types of pension in Canada. The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. To get the full pension you must have been in the country for 40 years after the age of 18, although you may be able to get a reduced amount if you have been in the country for less time. In addition, those receiving Quebec is three times the size of France this pension may be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) if they are on low income.


The Canadian and Quebec Pension Plans are a form of insurance to which you must contribute while working.The amount paid depends on the amount you have contributed. It is available at the age of 65 or at a reduced amount from 60 and can be claimed by anyone whose income has paid both contributions and income tax. The Consolidated Arrangements on Social Security came into force in 1995.This means that certain periods of residence in Canada can be treated as if they were periods of contribution to the National Insurance scheme in the UK when determining whether that person is eligible for benefi ts. The Convention on Social Security came into force in 1998 and means that if you work temporarily in Canada you don't lose out under the UK pension scheme.

Who moves there?

A real land of opportunity, especially for young professionals, Canada has a long tradition of atracting immigrants
Every year more than 90,000 foreign workers enter Canada temporarily to help Canadian employers address skill shortages. Currently, 650,000 British people are living in Canada and only one per cent are unemployed.


Who moves there?


Canada has a long history of attracting immigrants, and as a result is a thriving multicultural society. The largest proportion - 2.3 million - are from Europe. Asia is the next biggest contributor with just under 2 million.The number of people immigrating to Canada from the UK has been falling steadily over the years - from 160,000 in the 1960s down to just 42,500 in the 1990s. On the other hand, the number of immigrants from Asia has been steadily rising, and in the 1990s accounted for more than half of total immigrants.


People come to Canada in one of three ways - as economic immigrants, family immigrants or refugees. Most are of working age, and a high proportion have university degrees. Immigrants have tended to settle in large urban areas.Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal account for 73 per cent of new arrivals.The location of family and friends is an important factor. However, job prospects infl uence just under 20 per cent of immigrants, with lifestyle, education prospects and housing prices holding very little sway.


The largest number of jobs are in the services sector, followed by the goods producing sector. The largest number of foreign workers in Canada are employed in health and retail, with just over 24 per cent each, and three million of the 5.5 million settle and work in Ontario.

Why move there?


It has been said that Canada represents the best of the USA and the UK, bringing together vast areas of outstanding natural beauty and varying terrain and climate with a stable political framework, health and education systems. Nature-lovers will love the prairie lands and the mountains, the ocean and the lakes.There is a huge range of outdoor activities to pursue, including skiing, hiking, kayaking and even dogsledding. But Canada is not just about the great outdoors. From historic sites to performing arts, there is plenty to keep culture vultures busy.


The slower pace of life makes Canada an ideal place to which to retire, with an excellent public health system and low crime rates to boot.The tax position is also favourable, because assets outside Canada can remain tax-free for the fi rst fi ve years, and there is no death or inheritance tax. Although Canada has the most educated workforce in the world, many of its own workers are emigrating to the USA, leaving countless opportunities for young professionals to fi ll the gap. With an ageing workforce and a skills shortage among Canadians there is likely to be a continued demand for foreign workers.With unemployment rates at 7 per cent and GDP 0.2 per cent, Canada is in a healthy economic state and predictions are for growth to continue.


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