The Great White North: An introduction to living and working in Canada

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by Niall Rice

Immigration to Canada

Contrary to popular belief, doing business and visiting Canada is very different to doing so in the United States. Furthermore the customs and routines found from city to city in Canada can differ greatly. For example, the French-speaking city of Montreal is significantly different to the cities Toronto and Ottawa.

Visitors would do well to remember that Canada is not made up of states but provinces (dating back to its colonisation) and territories. Perhaps because of this colonisation, Canadians have a greater affinity to British English.

Other idiosyncrasies include the fact that Ice hockey is the national game in Canada, although American teams often top the leagues. The last occasion a Canadian team finished top was in 1993, and a conversation about when it is likely to happen again is likely to spark a lively debate if brought up in Canadian company.

Canada’s ever increasing immigrant population means sports such as football (soccer) and cricket have grown in popularity. The status of both sports, however, has not yet surpassed the already established sports ice hockey and American football.

The new land of the free

Canada is a very liberal country and Canadians are generally quite opinionated about world affairs.Ask a Canadian about Canadian immigration, for example, and you are likely to endure a lengthy but enjoyable synopsis on the latest legislation. As in the UK, Canada has subsidised healthcare, with many of the same idiosyncrasies and misgivings as the UK’s National Health Service.

Crucially, businesses in Canada operate differently to US companies. There is much more of an emphasis placed on workers rights and quite often the employee is put before ‘marginal benefit’ cost-cutting measures.

Also, within Canada, as you would expect, there are marked differences from province to province. Business is conducted in a more relaxed and informal manner in Quebec than the other English-speaking provinces.

Many people say that ‘a meeting scheduled to stat at 4pm in Toronto, starts at 4pm. A meeting for 4pm in Montreal may start at 4 pm, 4.15 or 4.30.’

Consumer quirks in Quebec and the necessity for French marketing materials, among other factors, have led to some prominent chains to confine their business to English speaking Canada. Such companies include Abercrombie and Fitch and Pottery Barn.

Canadian Immigration

Surveys uniformly rank Canada as among the world’s most pleasant and relaxing destinations for foreign travellers to visit. This mirrors figures from Canada’s immigration department, as over 150,000 people come to Canada every year to live and to work.

So strong is the immigration into some parts of Canada that cities like Toronto have seen their populations and businesses swell, with half of Toronto’s 2.5million citizens being born outside of the country.

This is set to continue with the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, constantly introducing new policies and legislation to the benefit of immigrants.

It is also being reported that Canada has been the least affected by the banking crisis which makes it an ideal place to live and work in many regards.



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