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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Things to know before immigrating to Canada

According to Maha Kamil, a current resident of Canada, there are certain factors that every Pakistani needs to consider before migrating to Canada. While Canada may be the top choice for starting a new life, its harsh weather and competitive job market are the discouraging points.

Many people from different backgrounds and ethnicities proudly call Canada their home. In recent years, there has been a spike in new immigrants moving to Canada, especially from Pakistan.

According to Canadian Immigration And Citizenship Canada, Pakistan ranks sixth amongst the top ten source countries of Canadian immigrants. Furthermore, Canada could expect 12,684 new immigrants in 2021 from Pakistan.

Read more: Brain drain: an Achilles’ Heel for the Global South?

Much of Canada’s beauty lies in the fact that it is ahead of other western countries in embracing multiculturalism and diversity as one of its core values. However, Pakistanis moving to Canada must be aware of certain harsh realities before they embark on their journey to live the Canadian dream.

Canada’s unforgiving weather and competitive job market   

First off, weather conditions in Canada are severely extreme, as it gets freezing cold. With over seven years worth of Canadian winters under my belt, I think it’s safe to say that weather sets the mood for most people in Canada for a better part of the year.

If you have kids, staying indoors and keeping them entertained during the winter can be quite challenging. On the bright side though, if you have a knack for adventure, you can go skiing in the winter to have some fun and engage in physical activity.

Read more: Canada’s western provinces shut schools, universities due to record heat

Secondly, the Canadian job market is incredibly competitive. Companies have the privilege to be extremely picky in who they want to hire since they receive thousands of applications from qualified new immigrants as well as individuals who have the relevant Canadian education and work experience for any given job at any given firm.

New immigrants with certain qualifications and professional experience may have a competitive edge. For instance, people with technical degrees and backgrounds are more likely to land a decent job in Canada than those with non-technical backgrounds.

Nevertheless, if you are planning to come to Canada, be prepared to throw yourself into books to upgrade your qualifications or to acquire any certifications, as all professions in Canada are highly regulated.

Read more: Pakistani & other foreign workers to lose jobs in Gulf

Is Canada’s healthcare system better?

Another important point to note is the healthcare system in Canada, and how it is different than the one in Pakistan. Canada has a publicly funded, universal healthcare system, which means that every permanent resident or Canadian citizen is eligible for basic health care services in the country. A universal healthcare system provides necessary health care to patients on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay for them.

In contrast, the health care system in Pakistan includes both private and public sectors.  70% of the Pakistani population is served by the private sector, owing to its high-quality service and above-average patient satisfaction rate.

On the other hand, public healthcare facilities in Pakistan lack proper resources and are often overburdened with patients, resulting in the provision of sub-standard health care solutions.

Read more: How to remove mistrust in the healthcare system?

In terms of the healthcare cost, the private sector in Pakistan is notorious for charging exorbitant fees, rendering their services inaccessible and unaffordable for the lower to middle-class segments of society. Consequently, the less privileged are left with no other option but to turn to the public sector for treatment.

However, this unfortunate situation is a blessing in disguise for those who can afford the services offered by the private sector. In contrast, there isn’t any option to attain premium services or VIP treatment in the Canadian health care system.

In Canada, one has to solely rely on their physician’s judgment when it comes to ordering diagnostic tests, unlike in Pakistan, where patients can just pay for any test they want their doctor to run for them, to dispel doubts for their mental peace.

Read more: Why mental health is an ignored phenomenon in Pakistan

Furthermore, emergency services in Canadian hospitals operate on entirely different principles, so you might be in for a shock if you ever need to avail them. Generally, when you check-in at the ER in a Canadian hospital, you can expect to wait for at least six to eight hours before being seen by a doctor, unless your health conditions are extremely life-threatening. They also reflect in your vitals, and nurses in the ER will not take you seriously and you may have to wait an entire day or night for your turn (given you have that much time).


Social life: Canada Vs. Pakistan

For any Pakistani, it is no secret that building and maintaining long-lasting friendships and social ties is much easier in Pakistan, as compared to doing it while living abroad. There are primarily two reasons for this difference, one is the fast-paced nature of life in Canada, and the second reason ties back to the harsh Canadian winters. People are cooped up in their cozy homes for half a year and hardly get to casually socialize with their neighbors/friends.

Furthermore, often people find it difficult to schedule a day and time for socializing that is mutually agreeable for everyone. Understandably, it is quite bothersome to garner the courage to even plan, let alone hold a social gathering at one’s house.

Here are my two cents: Plan an outdoor picnic or gathering whenever the weather permits and get comfortable with the idea of potlucks, to make life easier for everyone involved.

Read more: Life without Facebook? Social network outage triggers moans and soul searching

On the other hand, most people from upper-middle-class backgrounds in Pakistan can afford to hire domestic help and have the luxury to entertain a large number of guests frequently. In a nutshell, some new immigrants in Canada might feel isolated and homesick in their initial years due to the different social dynamics of Canadian society.

On the flip side, there are a few support groups on social media such as “Soul Sisters Canada” & “Canada Pakistan Association” that have made it easier for newbies in Canada to make connections with other like-minded individuals.

In conclusion, generally, people in Canada are very nice and welcoming. It may take some time to fully get accustomed to the Canadian culture and way of doing things, but if you persevere, you will eventually get there.

Read more: Trudeau wants a carbon neutral Canada

There are a number of resources for new immigrants to take advantage of, including career mentorship programs and platforms such as ACCES Employment Bridging Program and Canada Info Net to better ease into this life-changing transition. I hope that this article offers a good analysis and comparison of life in the two countries and helps you make the best decision for yourself and your family.

The author completed her Undergraduate at the University of Toronto & currently works at RBC Wealth Management. She is a registered Career Mentor at Ottawa Community Immigrant Services. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.