“But isn’t it really cold?”
That’s what many of my friends and family ask me when they learn that I’ve moved to Canada. And yes, Canadian winters are really, really cold— more than you can imagine.
But, the cold is not even the only thing to complain about.
The taxes are too high. Before moving to Canada I lived in Kuwait, a taxless country, so it took some getting used to. Before I was employed, I had to figure out what my disposable income would be after taxes. Whenever I was at a store, I had to calculate how much I would actually be paying for a particular item. The price displayed in stores does not include sales tax. I had to learn about provincial and federal tax, refundable and non-refundable tax credits as well as other lingo that I was completely ignorant about.
The internet and mobile plans are extremely expensive. Be prepared to shell out a significant amount every month for your internet and mobile plans. I currently pay $45 per month, plus tax, for unlimited calls and texts, as well as mere 5 GB of data. That would get me at least ten times the data back home.
My third issue, that will take some getting used to, is paid leave. Provincial governments typically guarantee just two weeks of paid vacation time every year. Saskatchewan mandates three weeks. Some employers may offer more paid vacation time in order to be more competitive when hiring. In addition to paid leave, employees in Canada are entitled to just five personal days, which are usually used for illness or emergencies. Only two countries offer less than Canada in terms of paid leave: Japan and the United States.
It is true that no country is without faults. The question now becomes, “why did I choose to move to Canada?”
I had dreamed of moving to Canada for years before I finally decided to go through the application process.
One of the main reasons I wanted to move here transcends material things. Because of Canada’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression laws, living in Canada allows me to express my true self and to be my true self. Even though I am an advocate of collective culture and strong communities, I also believe it is important that people are able to express themselves as best as they possibly can, without fear of judgement or backlash. Living a genuine life is irreplaceable.
My second reason might seem a little cliché— and that’s Canada’s free universal healthcare system. It is just incredible. Some people may complain about long wait times. But I would prefer long wait times to a huge medical bill. In Canada, you will be getting high quality medical care and you’ll only have to worry about purchasing medicine, which is usually heavily subsidized by provincial governments. Having a strong healthcare system at my disposal gives me the peace of mind I need, particularly with my asthma and weak immune system.
What drew me to Canada over other countries is that it is absolutely beautiful. This is what I mention to friends and family who ask about how cold Canada is. During Canadian summers, autumns and springs, the country is breathtakingly beautiful. From high mountains, majestic landscapes, diverse wildlife, over 2 million lakes and 300 billion trees, there is plenty to explore in the second largest country in the world.
In addition, I was quite fortunate to learn about the Express Entry system through a friend of mine. I learned that I would be eligible to apply for immigration through Canada’s Express Entry system, whereas for certain other countries, I needed to have more work experience, or a job offer. The good thing about moving to Canada is that there are over 100 different ways to come here through economic-class immigration alone.
To create an Express Entry profile, you have to submit your language test results as well as an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). I opted for IELTS (International English Language Testing System) for my language test. I received my results after about two weeks. As for the ECA, I used WES (World Education Services). I requested that my universities send my transcripts and diplomas directly to WES, and I received my ECA after about a month and a half.
Once I received both my language test results and my ECA, I created my Express Entry profile. It took me just under an hour. I was expected to fill in some basic information about my situation.
A few days later, I received my Invitation to Apply (ITA). I was given 60 days to gather all the documents I needed. This included police certificates of the countries I had lived in, proof of funds available as well as my education credentials. I was also required to disclose all the countries that I had visited over the last ten years.
Once I submitted my application, a nervous wait ended after just over five months when I received a request to submit my passport at the local Visa Application Centre (VAC). After submitting my passport, I received a phone call to pick up my Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) as well as my passport with a Canadian immigrant visa attached.
It was in the car, shortly after I picked up my passport that it hit me. I felt like I could finally restart my life.
I flew to Toronto in August, the hottest month of the year, and was hit with a shocking revelation– Canada isn’t always cold.
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