There are many things immigrants love in and about Canada. After all, they chose Canada as their new home despite many contending options. However, a few things are on the list of reasons why immigrants sometimes wonder what they are doing in Canada. Immigrant Muse asked immigrants what they do not like about Canada and generated this list from their responses.
Canada’s long and depressing winter tops the list for many immigrants. This is not surprising as most immigrants are from countries with temperate weather.
“The only thing I hate about Canada is the long winter.”Adeola, AB
“Canada would be the perfect country if winter was as short as summer and summer as long as winter.”Priyanka, NS
“When I first heard about Canada’s winter, I never imagined it could be this cold until I experienced it. The overwhelming sadness that accompanies winter season makes it suck even more”Jeremiah, SK
“I find myself asking what I’m still doing here every winter.”Zeal, Yukon
High Cost of Living
According to World Data, Canada is the 18th most expensive country in the world, with Vancouver as the most expensive city in Canada. It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of Canadians spend more than 80 per cent of their income on necessities, leaving them little to spend on pleasures and savings for the future. The increasing cost of living and inflation only makes it worse. A recent CBC report shows that many Canadians are afraid they may not be able to afford their basic needs anymore. To help with the increasing cost of living, the Saskatchewan government recently paid a one-time affordability credit of $500 to everyone 18 years and above who file taxes in Saskatchewan in 2021.
“When I first saw the proof of funds required to live in Canada for six months, I imagined it was exaggerated because I didn’t think the cost of living could be that expensive. I’m shocked at how fast my proof of funds drained just from buying my basic needs. No wonder most immigrants settle for survival jobs to pay the bills.”Ishmael, BC
“Living cost is annoyingly expensive in Canada.”Neo, NS
“The bills here can make one go crazy with worry.”Ishmael, ON
Canada is a country with ten provinces and three territories. Each province makes laws, policies and rules on provincial taxation, healthcare, education, business registrations, and natural resources, amongst others. As a result, laws and systems in one province may not apply in another. This creates a disconnect and can make relocating across provinces a new learning curve. For example, the goods and services tax (GST) differs from one province to another. In New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, the GST has been blended with the provincial sales tax and is called the harmonized sales tax (HST). However, these provinces charge different rates. While Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon do not charge a provincial sales tax aside from the federal GST of 5 per cent, other provinces charge anything from 6 per cent to 10 per cent in addition to the federal GST. Learning these differences is difficult enough for people travelling through the provinces and even more so when someone needs to move to another province.
“When I moved from Toronto, ON to Saskatoon, SK, it felt like I moved to another country. I had to unlearn and relearn many things.”Muyiwa, SK
“It was tough when I first moved from Alberta to British Columbia. I knew life would be more expensive, but I hadn’t thought about the extra cost of buying basic things because of the additional taxes I never paid in Alberta. My budget never worked.”Mina, BC
“Each time I go on a road trip to Alberta, I buy a trunk load of groceries because of the sales tax.”Keela, BC
Healthcare Wait Time
Canadians brag about the free healthcare in Canada, but the other side most people outside Canada do not often see is the long wait time. Long wait time applies not only to emergency room visits but also to surgical procedures, finding a family doctor, and even a regular visit to a clinic. According to data published by Ontario Health in August 2022, the average emergency room wait time in Ontario for July was 20.7 hours.
“I went to emergency recently at 2 pm and didn’t get to see a doctor until 1 am. After the doctor checked me and requested blood work, a nurse said my COVID test result returned positive. I was shocked because I did not take a COVID test. The nurse realized I was the wrong patient. It just made me realize how overworked healthcare workers were. Many of them were complaining about how they were forced to take double shifts.”Masha, ON
“I have been waiting for over three years to do a minor procedure affecting the quality of my life. I’ve decided to go back to my home country for the procedure. I wish there were also private healthcare that we could pay for in Canada. The free public healthcare is not so effective.”JJ, SK
“Going to the ER when you’re not at the point of death is a waste of time because they won’t attend to you until you get to that point.”Nichola, NB
“Still waiting to find a family doctor for five years.”Monique, AB
Racism and Discrimination
Canadians are generally lovely people, but there are still confirmed cases of passive aggressiveness, racism and discrimination across the country. Many of these are based on racial, religious, or sexual biases. Canada has a long history of discrimination against the Aboriginal, Asian, and Black peoples. Recently, there have been religious-motivated killings of Muslims in Alberta, racially motivated harassment of Asians and police brutality against Black people that have led to numerous protests across Canada. While these are overt, immigrants express that the covert cases are the ones that hurt the most.
“I work as a recruiter and have seen many hiring managers disqualify great job applicants just because of their names. That hurts because I know that it could be me.”Zee, SK
“It makes me cringe when people meet me for the first time and ask where I’m from originally. Heck, I’m from Canada. I was born and raised here.”Nathan, NB
“I once went for an in-person job interview after a telephone interview that went well. The hiring manager and I hit it off over the phone like buddies, only to meet in person, and he was so cold. I could tell it was because he did not expect me to be black.”Maya, AB
“I like that Canadians try to be nice in public even when they don’t like you and can be mean when you’re alone with them. I’ve had my fair share and get pretty anxious when I’m alone with white Canadians.”Antonio, BC
Unreliable Transport System in Smaller Cities
If you live in large metropolitan cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary, you can decide not to have a private means of transport and entirely depend on public transit. Large cities have dependable transit systems with buses, trains and boats here necessary. But this is different in smaller cities. As a result, to avoid missing or being late for appointments or, worse still, getting stranded on cold winter days or hot summer days, you must have a personal vehicle, whether that’s a car, motorcycle or bicycle. It even becomes more difficult when you have to make inter-city trips. Public transit for inter-city trips is usually very infrequent, if available.
“I would love to go visit my family in Saskatoon often, but it’s always a nightmare because something always tends to go wrong with the buses from Moose-Jaw to Saskatoon or back.”TE, SK
“When my family first came to Canada, we often missed appointments because we had no car to move around easily. You can guess the first major purchase we made in Canada even when we weren’t ready for it.”Bayo, NS
“If you’re going to live in any city other than Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary, then be prepared to buy a car as soon as you land. That’s going to save you a whole lot of stress. I’ve lived in 5 provinces in the last seven years, so I know.”Bundy, BC
According to a 2014 Report from the Panel on Employment Challenges of New Canadians, “New Canadians hold a disproportionate number of graduate degrees, accounting for nearly half (49%) of all PhDs and 40 per cent of master’s recipients. Despite their qualifications, skilled immigrants are chronically underemployed.”
“The economic immigration system makes immigrants believe that there are tons of jobs available for the qualification and skillsets that immigrants bring to Canada. Sadly, immigrants have to take jobs that are way below their qualification and skillsets, and that can be frustrating.”Boye, PEI
“Don’t even get me started on the Canadian experience bulls**t that employers are always looking for.”Moscow, ON
“Canada say they need healthcare workers but have they tried to count the number of foreign-trained doctors and nurses working at groceries stores, restaurants, transport companies and care home?”Bill, BC
Many immigrants have expressed shock over the high tax rate in Canada. They get their first job in Canada and make assumptions about their net income after tax deductions, only to get a rude awakening when they receive their pay stubs. They had not imagined they’d be paying that much income tax. From income tax to goods and services tax and property tax, every Canadian feels the pinch of taxes that jolts them to reality and forces an equitable distribution of wealth in Canada. Nonetheless, these high taxes are one of the reasons the government can provide many social services and benefits to Canadians.
“I don’t blame people that don’t want to take higher-paying jobs. The bulk of the money goes to the government in taxes.”Shahira, ON
“When I see the taxes I pay at the end of each tax season, I get upset.”Daniel, NS
“Taxes are high, but that’s the reason I get free healthcare, and public schools are free, so I can’t complain, can I?”Aram, AB
Although immigrants do not like these things about Canada just like most Canadian-born citizens, they make the best of their lives in Canada and find joy in the things they love about Canada.