As the world looks upon America’s host of anti-immigration scandals and policies with dismay, some immigrants are looking elsewhere for a place to start a new life. That’s put Canada on the world stage as an alternative place to seek out the so-called American Dream. Famously, when Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, the Canadian immigration website crashed. Though Canada has always been a country that welcomes immigrants, America’s recent approach to immigration has led more immigrants to turn to Canada as a viable alternative for starting a new life.
1. CANADA EMBRACES MULTICULTURALISM & IMMIGRANTS
In the 1970s, under the direction of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada officially adopted a policy to promote multiculturalism, and ever since it’s been a key part of the Canadian identity. Canada has one of the highest immigration rates per capita among developed nations. In 2018 alone, Canada will welcome over 310,000 immigrants into the country. 57% of those immigrants will arrive as skilled workers. The rest will be refugees or join family already living in Canada. Altogether, 22.3% of the Canadian population identifies as a visible minority and 21.9% as foreign-born.
Canada is also known for its ‘mosaic’ approach to multiculturalism, where people from all cultures live in harmony, while also maintaining their cultural heritage and religious practices. In Canada, there are over 30 ethnic communities with 100,000+ people, and 11 that have a million or more people. This stands in contrast to ‘melting pot’ cultures where immigrants are expected to blend in and assimilate to the norms of their new home. Canada’s urban centres such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are particularly diverse, and home to many ethnic neighbourhoods. In Toronto, which is regularly referred to as ‘the most multicultural city in the world,’ more than half of the population identifies as a visible minority.
2. CANADA IS ONE OF THE MOST INCLUSIVE COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD
Beyond being multicultural, Canada is known for its diversity and inclusivity in other ways. The country has strong support for the LGBTQ community. In 2005, Canada became the 4th nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and the first outside of Europe. A 2017 poll found that Canadians overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage with 74% saying: “it’s great that two people of the same sex can get married in Canada.” Canada also officially declared June Pride Month in 2015 and hosts the annual Toronto Pride Parade, which is one of the world’s largest LGBTQ celebrations.
Women also have a strong voice in Canada. When Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister in 2015, he committed to a cabinet with 50/50 representation between genders. Basic women’s rights such as voting, access to birth control and abortion are long-established and protected. Though there’s still room for improvement in getting women into leadership roles in Canada, Canadian women have a high workforce participation rate, with 82% of women between the ages of 25 to 54 opting to work outside of their home.
3. CANADA IS THE 10TH LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD
Canada punches above its weight when it comes to the world economy. Despite having the 38th largest population in the world, Canada has the 10th largest economy, with an output of 1.6 trillion or $48,100 per capita. Canada overtook Russia in 2015 to claim a top 10 spot. Though Canada is well-known for its wealth of natural resources, Canada’s economy is actually heavily service-oriented, with 78.9% of Canadians working in a service-related job, according to Statistics Canada. Though the goods-producing sector is relatively small in comparison to the service sector, Canada’s manufacturing and oil and petroleum industries have experienced small but steady annual growth over the last several years.
4. CANADA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM IS WORLD-CLASS
Canada spends more on education per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world and has been named the most educated country in the world. Canada’s K-12 public education system is regarded as one of the best in the world. Canada is also home to some of the world’s top universities, with McGill University, the University of Toronto, McMaster University, and the University of British Columbia ranking among the world’s top 100 institutions. According to Statistics Canada, 54% of Canadians 25-64 have a post-secondary degree, and an additional 10.8% have completed an apprenticeship or a trades certificate. In some provinces, the cost of tuition is fully or partially covered for low-income students.
5. CANADA’S TECH INDUSTRY IS GROWING RAPIDLY
The tech sector is Canada’s fastest growing industry, which spells good things for Canada’s future, as the need for tech professionals continues to boom. Government support and investment in Canada’s tech industry is strong, as well, with grants and other tools available to help Canadian startups. Canada is rapidly becoming a destination of choice for employers seeking skilled tech talent. Toronto leads the pack, with big names like Google’s Sidewalk labs, Shopify, Salesforce and Facebook setting up shop in the city. While Toronto gets a lot of attention for its plentiful tech talent, it’s not alone. Other Canadian cities are pulling in tech talent, too. Montreal quietly established itself as an epicentre for innovation in AI and game development. Vancouver and Calgary, meanwhile, are known for innovation in clean tech, among other things.
6. CANADIANS ENJOY ACCESS TO UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE
Canada’s universal healthcare system was adopted in the 1960s. Under the program, every province or territory in Canada has a healthcare plan which provides all residents with reasonable access to medical services, without paying out of pocket for healthcare services such as hospital visits or access to doctors. In 2017, Canada spent $6,323 per person on healthcare, according to the OECD. Despite spending about half of what the US does per capita, Canada’s quality of care has been rated significantly higher. Thanks to the reliable healthcare programs available to everyone in the country, Canada has one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates at just below 82 years. That places Canada’s life expectancy at 18th in the world.
7. CANADA HAS THE BEST BENEFITS, HOLIDAYS & PAID LEAVE IN NORTH AMERICA
Canada is a progressive country with many policies in place to protect workers. It’s the only country in North America with mandated vacation leave, with 2 guaranteed weeks of paid vacation for all employees, in addition to 6 to 10 statutory holidays, depending on the province. Canadians are also guaranteed access to a variety of monetary protections including Employment Insurance (EI), old age security, the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), and a federal childcare benefit.
The minimum wage in Canada is also one of the highest in the world, though it ranges from $11 to $14 depending on your province of residence. Canada’s maternity and parental leave policies are also progressive. Canadian workers are permitted to take up to 18 months of parental leave, with the mother and father able to share the leave however they choose.
8. CANADA IS EXTREMELY SAFE
Canada regularly ranks among the top 10 safest nations in the world on various polls and indexes. According to the Global Peace Index of 2018, Canada was ranked the 6th most peaceful nation in the world. The index weighs a variety of factors including homicide rates, militarization, political stability, diplomatic relations, ongoing conflicts, incarceration rates, and terrorism impact, among others. Canada is well known for strong gun control and relatively peaceful approach to foreign diplomacy. In general, Canada’s crime rates are low and have declined significantly since their peak in the 1980s.
9. CANADA’S BANKS ARE EXTREMELY STABLE
For years Canada’s banks have been ranked the world’s most stable according to the World Economic Forum. In Canada, you can rest easy knowing that if you deposit your money into a major bank it’s going to be safe and sound. Canada hasn’t had a bank failure since 1983. Also, unlike the US, which continues to use magstripe cards, Canada has moved towards PIN and chip technology, which is a lot more secure. Canadians are also very forward-thinking when it comes to using bank tech, with 68% of Canadians doing their day-to-day banking online or through mobile apps.
10. CANADA’S A BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE
There’s no denying that Canada has some epic scenery to enjoy. From BC’s mountains, to PEI’s coastal views, to Montreal’s historic buildings (the city just celebrated its 375th birthday and is looking pretty good for its age!) there’s no shortage of places to visit and things to see in Canada. The country boasts hundreds of nationally protected parks, reserves, historical sites and hiking trails.
From world-renowned parks like Banff and Jasper in Alberta, to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, to Georgian Bay in Ontario, there’s no shortage of natural wonders to enjoy from coast to coast. Speaking of coasts, Canada also has more coastline than any other country in the world, with over 200,000 kilometres of coastline, almost 4 times as much the next closest (Indonesia.) So while Canada may not exactly be known for its warm weather beaches, there’s plenty of beautiful coastal scenery to enjoy when the weather does heat up. If you’re more of a city person, Canadian cities like Calgary and Toronto are regularly listed among the world’s cleanest cities.
11. CANADA HAS A STABLE, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL SYSTEM
Though Canadian governments shift between various liberal and conservative parties depending on the political climate, in general, all of Canada’s political parties have relatively centrist stances on hot-button issues such as women’s and LGBT rights, environmental concerns and immigration, which are sometimes highly divisive in other democratic nations. Canadians also have faith in and respect for the political system and government bodies. Though scandals break occasionally, they tend to be fairly mild and there’s little in the way of widespread corruption, fraud or government distrust. Canada’s political campaigns are also short and inexpensive for taxpayers compared to other democratic nations. Even at a national level, political campaigns rarely last more than a few months.
These are just a few of the things that make Canada a great place for immigrants to settle and make a build a life.