So you are thinking about migrating to the big snow country. You have done some sample Google search and found a few articles online, referring to a land of milk and honey and also some others about how Canada is not a paradise and about the struggles that the immigrants go through to fulfill their great Canadian dream. I will try to summarise these points to aid you in your decision making and may help you to bust certain myths that you might have about the Canuck country. To be or not to be, is a question only you and Shakespeare can answer.
The Pros of moving to the Canuck country
- Free Health Care in Canada
Canada offers free health care to all the permanent residents and its citizens. As your mother would probably have told you, there are no free lunches in the world and this free health care is not free in the absolute sense. These are funded by high taxes on income- one of the highest among the developed world. The free health care is provided under the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act does not cover prescription drugs, home care or long-term care or dental care, which means most Canadians rely on private insurance from their employers or the government to pay for those costs. In British Columbia, taxation-based funding is supplemented by a fixed monthly premium which is waived or reduced for those on low incomes. Virtually all essential basic care is covered, including maternity but excluding mental health and home care. Health coverage is not affected by the loss or change of jobs, health care cannot be denied due to unpaid premiums, and there are no lifetime limits or exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Contrast this with USA and India, where medical costs may ruin one’s financial security and even may throw the lives of an entire family to an unexpected conundrum.
2. Child Care- Free public education: Most part of a child’s early education is publicly funded. A tax-free monthly payment is provided to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. However, the caveat here is that the exact amount depends on the parents’ annual income. University education is still not free and rising student debts are a cause of worry all over North America. However, contrast this with India, where above the school costs, extra tuitions outside the classrooms through digital means is a thriving multi-million dollar industry with enough money to buy front page ads and to bring in King Khan as the ambassador of ad campaigns. Not to mention the suicide rates in Kota entrance coaching centres, the pressure to get into the IIT’s, no visible career options other than being an engineer or doctor. I would love to have a respite for my kids from the system that I have gone through and love to raise them where their self-worth is not measured by the colour of their collar.
3. Facilities for the Old and Disabled- The streets, buses, trains, buildings etc are disabled friendly and is made accessible to the elderly or the disabled. In Toronto, TTC-Wheel Transport provides door-to-door pickup and drop services for the disabled.
4. Low crime rates: In general, Canada is a very low crime country. Although there are neighbourhoods in every city in the world that I usually stay away from, at night.
5. Clean Air and Clean Water: This is something that most Canadians take for granted save for the occasional wildfire in British Columbia and extreme winter in Saskatchewan, Canada is bestowed with nature’s bounties
6. Awaken the wanderlust in You: A Canuck passport gives you access to visa-free travel to more than 100+ countries. If you, the person reading this, hails from an emerging economy, it is unlikely that your passport will make it to the most powerful passport list anytime soon. Maybe it will, but who wants to travel when they are old?
7. Family reunion/sponsorship: At present, you can apply for a 10-year multiple entry visa for your parents and grandparents. You can also apply for a PR for your parents. The Express Entry program also awards 15 points for having siblings in Canada.
8. Multiculturalism: To me personally this is the single most wonderful aspect of Canada. To be able to interact with persons from different parts of the world and cultures. In fact, the majority of the inhabitants in the city of Toronto was not born in Canada. I can’t wait to discuss Narcos with my Mexican hombre or Peaky Blinders with an Irish guy.
9. Actually, a subset but world cuisine: Toronto hosts food festivals all through the summer and it is a delight to meet, greet and dine with such a multicultural audience. As a person who worked in Bangalore, I had relished the ‘Puliyogare’ of Kannadigas and the red fiery chutney of Andhrites. There is no reason why I will stay away from a Mexican burrito or a Hungarian goulash.
10. Sexual Libertanism: This particular reason may not be appealing to you, depending upon your worldly views. A gay friend of mine had moved to Canada, for the simple reason that the society there is not judgemental and is more accommodative to him and his partner. Now India had recently decriminalized homosexuality as a crime, but the societal taboo is going anywhere anytime soon. I would love to raise my kids in a society, where they are not marginalized due to their sexual orientation. I truly believe, love ‘trumps’ all evil.
11. Legal Weed- Might be appealing to some, For some, may not be. either the case, watch the movie, ‘Kid Cannabis’ cause it’s awesome.
12. Canadian Politics- One name- ‘Justin Trudeau’. I have been told by my American friends that the Conservative Party members would be at best, medium democrats in the USA. In the Trump era and rising xenophobia across geographies, Canada remains as a beautiful exception for many countries including India to emulate to. Further, have a look at their cabinet of governing ministers. A doctor as a health minister, a former soldier from the minority Sikh community is the defence minister and not to mention, an immigrant refugee from war-torn Somalia has made it all the way to the top echelon, and is appointed as the Minister of Immigration. A truly inspiring story, indeed.
Now to address the cons part and genuine worries of Immigration.
Immigration is a bet. You are betting that some number of years from now (not one or two, but rather five or ten) you or your children will be better off somewhere else (in Canada in this case) than in your current location. This is an expensive bet — it is generally very hard to uproot your whole life and emigrate — you are starting from scratch in almost every aspect of your life. Depending on your definition of “better off” on the one hand, and your willingness to sacrifice a lot of comfort and familiarity that your current life provides, it might or might not be worthwhile for you. Canada takes pride in being very accepting and open-minded, in giving equal opportunity to everyone, in being a peaceful country with a good rule of law. Big Canadian cities are melting pots of all world cultures and influences. Canadian people are on the whole very kind and friendly. Is it perfect — no, because nothing is. Is the bet worth taking — I thought it would be, but everyone needs to make this decision for themselves.
You are in a new country. Please do not start to build upon your expectations based on your past experience and accomplishments. It is a sure shot recipe for disaster when immigrating to any new country. You may be a Chartered Accountant in India but you will just be an accountant in Canada until you clear the equivalent exams and become a CPA. It is difficult to accept it, I would surely know. But leave the baggage behind, move on.
For instance, just like a CEO of a small time company may take the position of mid to senior role in an MNC, you might need to make career adjustments. It is not a straight line, but success as a general rule of thumb is rather a zig-zag way. Who will know, Canada is one of those places, where the colour of your collar don’t matter and you might end up pursuing a new career or trade, depending on your interests and you may absolutely love it. Maybe it is time, to dust upon that old passion of yours or try pursuing that career change that you always wanted to.
A rational immigrant is often satisfied with finding a job in his relevant profession without griping about the job title. I know a friend of mine, who had did her MBA from one of the premier institutes in India, Indian School of Business and was in the senior management of an Indian MNC. She had migrated to Canada and had no trouble in finding a job, but compromised a lot on career, as she is working in a junior to the mid-level role, ‘much below her professional rank’ if you will. But the important this is she is happily living there with her husband. She is enjoying the newfound free time, by spending more time with her family. Again, depending upon the perspective, things could be a boon.
If you are one of those dudes, who have seldom had a conversation with a person outside of their immediate community, I have news for you. If you do not change your ways and be flexible enough, you’re bound to fail in Canada or in any other metropolitan city. Take the case of Bangalore, you will need to adjust and deal with cultural melting points of different states of India in Bangalore too. If you are from Bengal, you cannot possibly expect to get all job referrals and opportunities handed down to you by other Bengalis in Bangalore.
Finally, ask yourself this basic fundamental question? Are you from a top-tier college in your country? If you’re one of them folks, with degrees from the Oxbridge and the IIMs of your country, careerwise, you’ll rest assured be better off, in your home country. Are you one amongst those who are working in the best unicorn startups or holding a significant strategic position in a company in your home country? If yes, rethink again about immigration, chances are that you’ll start again at an entry-level position much below your professional rank, or worse need to do survival jobs while getting your education equalized or being made at par to the Canadian system.
Finally let me draw your attention, to this excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist- (spoiler alert)
Remember when the glassware merchant at Tangier asked Santiago-“Why did you want to get to the Pyramids?”
“Because I’ve always heard about them,” Santiago answered.
“I don’t know anyone around here who would want to cross the desert just to see the Pyramids,” said the merchant. “They’re just a pile of stones. You could build one in your backyard.”
“You’ve never had dreams of travel,” said the boy.
Now we all know how Santiago venture out hoping to find the Pyramids. Ironic as it is, the climax is that the treasure that Santiago seeketh all this time, was back at home in Spain under a tree where he took rest under the shade while herding his sheep. It took Santiago all the way to travel to the Pyramids to find out that the treasure was always back at home. The point being, he wouldn’t have recognized or found out this treasure, had he not taken this bold step. This could be your adventure and who will know, what tomorrow holds? So now you know what you have to do. You have to keep breathing. And tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in.