Living and Life in Canada

Get to know Canada:\n

Canada is:

  • The second largest country in the world with a vast and diverse land
  • Land area of 9,984,670 square kilometers
  • 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 which can be divided into 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 has its own capital city where the provincial or territorial government is located.

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 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:

Bilingualism

  • Canada has two official languages: English and French. All Government of Canada services and documents are available in these two languages.
  • English is the widely spoken language in most provinces in Canada, except Quebec French is the official language.
  • New Brunswick, home to many French-speaking people, is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.
  • 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 compared to income. Canadian housing is comparatively cheaper than other developed countries in the world. Canadians can buy house with a considerably low annual mortgage which leaves more of their income to be spent in other activities in comparison to other countries of the west. The following are the major expenses that one should consider first.

Household Expenses:

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 on a monthly basis. Rental costs vary across cities and across 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. Housing may cost less outside large cities.

Food

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. Alcohol and cigarettes are very expensive in Canada because they are heavily taxed.

Clothing

Clothing is also a basic expense. Clothing expenses may be under 10% of your take-home pay. Some people shop at re-sale shops.

Health Insurance

Some provincial and territorial health programs may not cover some newcomers for the first three months they are in Canada. Check with the province or territory to see if you will need to buy an additional health program.

Transportation

Many Canadian families own one or more cars. Canadians buy their cars new or used or they lease them. 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 of time. You will pay the same costs as you do in owning a car.\n

Car Insurance

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 which 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 variety of plans. 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 the 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 which 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 Canadian:

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 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. Private schools charge school fees for children to attend them. Teachers are highly qualified and licensed. The language of instruction for schools in Canada is either English or French. Religion does not play an active role in most regular public schools.

Your First Days:

Moving to a new country is exciting and challenging. When you arrive in Canada, you will want to establish yourself, find a job and find somewhere to live. 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. As a newcomer, you need to be aware of these rights and freedoms and the responsibilities that go along with them.

The rights and responsibilities of being a citizen are:

  • Legal rights;
  • Equality rights;
  • Mobility rights;
  • Aboriginal peoples’ rights;
  • Freedom of thought;
  • Freedom of speech;
  • Freedom of religion; and
  • The right to peaceful assembly

Some responsibilities are:

  • To obey Canada’s laws;

To express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others;

  • To help others in the community;
  • To care for and protect our heritage and environment; and
  • To 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.

More information can be found about “Going to Canada”: http://www.goingtocanada.gc.ca/CIC/display-afficher.do?id=0000000000096〈=eng