Get to know Canada:
Living and Life in Canada
- The second-largest country in the world with vast and diverse land.
- Land area of 9,984,670 square kilometres.
- Longest distance north to south (on land) is 4,634 km, from Nunavut to Ontario.
- Longest distance east to west is 5,514 km from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon Territory where it borders with Alaska.
- Has six different time zones: Newfoundland, Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific.
- World-renowned for natural wealth of forests, wildlife, protected areas, and water.
Provinces and Territories in Canada:
Canada comprises of 10 provinces and 3 territories. And falls into the category of five areas.
- The East (also called the Atlantic region) including the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
- The Central region including the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
- The Prairies including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and some parts of Alberta.
- The West including Alberta and British Columbia.
- The North comprising of three territories of Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.
Each province and territory have its own capital city where its provincial or territorial government functions.
Canadian Population and Climate:
Approximately 33 million people live in Canada. It ranks 36th in population in the world. There are four different seasons: spring, summer, autumn (fall), and winter in Canada. During winter, the days are shorter and colder whereas during summer days are longer and warmer. Canada has dramatic variations in the climate which is influenced by many factors such as distance from large bodies of water, latitude, elevation, and prevailing winds.
The Official Languages of Canada:
- Canada has two official languages: English and French. Thus, all Government of Canada services and documents are available in these two languages.
- English is a widely spoken language in most provinces in Canada. But Quebec’s official language is French.
- New Brunswick, home to many French-speaking people, is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.
- Also, there are Francophone communities in many provinces throughout Canada.
Cost of Living in Canada:
Life in Canada is different from your home country. Individuals might have to look for jobs with low salary and upgrade their skills and get relevant work experience. The cost of living in Canada is also standard in comparison to income. Canadian housing is cheaper than other developed countries in the world. Canadians can buy a house with a low annual mortgage. As a result, they can spend more of their income on other activities in comparison to other countries of the west. The following are the major expenses that one should consider first.
Housing, Heating and Utilities
In Canada, you can expect to spend 35% to 50% of your income on housing. This should include the cost of electricity, heating, telephone service, and water. Many newcomers choose to rent an apartment monthly. Rental costs vary across cities and Canada. You can expect to pay between $350 a month to rent a room and up to $2,000 a month to rent a luxury apartment or a large house. However, the housing may cost less outside large cities.
Food costs make up about one-eighth of your take-home pay. This can double if you often eat in restaurants, buy expensive treats, or include alcohol and cigarettes as part of your food budget. Because alcohol and cigarettes are very expensive in Canada due to heavy taxes.
Clothing is also a basic expense. Also, clothing expenses may be under 10% of your take-home pay. Some people shop at resale shops.
Some provincial and territorial health programs may not cover some newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada. So, check with the province or territory to see if you will need to buy an additional health program.
Many Canadian families own one or more cars. Also, Canadians buy their cars new or used or they lease them. So, make sure you consider all of the costs before you decide to buy or lease a car.
- When you own a car, you will have to pay for the car’s maintenance, gas, monthly loan payments, registration, and insurance.
- When you lease a car, you will sign a contract to have the car for a set period. You will pay the same costs as you do in owning a car.\n
It is the law that all cars must be insured and registered with the provincial or territorial motor vehicle licensing agency where you live. Car insurance can be expensive. But it protects you and other drivers in case of an accident.
Occasional Important Expenses
Occasional important expenses are bills that do not need to be paid regularly but are still important. Some examples are buying prescription medicine for a family member (not covered by health insurance), school expenses, and long-distance calls to friends and family in your home country.
Canadian Health Care System:
Health care is delivered through a publicly-funded health care system. And is guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act. In the collection of information and day to day care of an individual’s health, the Canadian government does not participate. It remains confidential between the individual and his/ her physician. The Provincial Ministry of Health issues a health card to each individual who enrols for the program. Everyone in Canada receives the same level of care. All essential basic care is covered under the plan. So, there is no need for a variety of plans. However, dental and vision care may not be covered, depending on the province. Often dental and vision care are insured by employers through private companies. Pharmaceutical medications for elderly persons or indigents are covered by public funds or through employment-based private insurance. Individuals choose their family physicians.
Transportation system in Canada:
Public transportation choices vary across Canada and options include buses, trains, and subways. Canada has a transportation system that includes more than 1,400,000 kilometres (870,000 mi) of roads, 10 major international airports, 300 smaller airports, 72,093 km (44,797 mi) of functioning railway track, and more than 300 commercial ports and harbours that provide access to the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans as well as the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Transport Canada is under the direction of the federal government’s Minister of Transport.
Education system in Canada:
Public education which is controlled by the provinces and territories is funded through taxes. The public education law in Canada states that:
- Education is free up to the Secondary level and available to every child in Canada
- Education begins at the age of four (4) or five (5), depending on the province or territory.
- Children are required to be educated in an approved way until the age of 15 or 16, depending on where they live.
Children in Canada attend public schools which do not charge school fees. However, private schools charge school fees for children to attend them. Also, teachers are highly qualified and licensed. And the language of instruction for schools in Canada is either English or French. Moreover, religion does not play an active role in most regular public schools.
Your First Days:
Moving to a new country is exciting and challenging. But when you arrive in Canada, you will want to establish yourself, find a job and find somewhere to live. So, to help you do this, you will need to know where to look for information and which organizations to contact.
Your Rights and Responsibilities:
Canada is a country with many rights and freedoms. Thus, as a newcomer, you must be aware of these rights and freedoms and the responsibilities that go along with them.
The rights and responsibilities of being a citizen are as the following:
- Legal rights;
- Equality rights;
- Mobility rights;
- Aboriginal peoples’ rights;
- The right to peaceful assembly;
- Freedom of thought;
- Freedom of speech;
- And freedom of religion.
Some responsibilities are:
- Obey Canada’s laws;
- Express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others;
- Help others in the community;
- Care for and protect our heritage and environment; and
- Eliminate discrimination and injustice.
Citizens have all the rights listed above along with the following:
- Apply for a passport;
- Run in elections; and
- Vote in elections.
Living and Life in Canada: More information can be found about “Going to Canada”