Common misconceptions about life in Canada

Credit to Author: Ivy Chiu| Date: Fri, 10 May 2019 13:02:41 +0000

On any given flight, many Canadians are returning home from a vacation, tourists are coming to visit, and others are here for business.  And sometimes, an entire family might be on a plane, ready to embark on their new life in Canada, about to set their feet down for the first time in their new home.

Emigrating from one country to another is such an undertaking, and much research and planning go into the decision making.  As such, it’s common to focus on the major items, such as where to move and how to find meaningful employment, and forget the smaller things that may come with unexpected learning curves.

Through informal research with my colleagues who are also immigrants to Canada, we asked about preconceived notions about Canada and how that compared to what they actually found.

Canadian police ride horses: Some do! But it’s a little confusing: there are provincial police forces, and some provincial officers do patrol on horseback. Canada also has its federal national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (commonly called “RCMP” or simply “Mounties”). Despite the name, this police force is no longer mounted on horses. RCMP officers can be identified by their unique red uniforms and wide brimmed tan hats. For more information on the RCMP, visit here.

Canada is freezing cold and snows for six months in a year: Canada has a wide range of temperatures and climate conditions – not just cold and snowy. For example, British Columbia is known for its mild winter weather. Of course, much of Canada is cold but generally December, January and February bear the brunt of the harsh winter weather.

English and French are the only languages commonly spoken in Canada: The official languages in Canada are English and French, and while the majority of Canadians speak English as their mother tongue, other commonly spoken languages in Canada include Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi. And French isn’t as commonly spoken in Canada as you might think. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 the English–French bilingualism rate in Canada reached the highest level ever at 17.9% of Canadians speaking both official languages.

Healthcare is free in Canada: Canada’s Healthcare System is publicly funded; however, this does not mean that everything relating to healthcare is free. Canadian residents fund the healthcare system by paying taxes, but it’s important to understand what’s covered and what you will be expected to cover. Under the Canadian Health Act, the national health insurance program is designed to ensure that all residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis. The act does not cover things like prescription drugs, home care or long-term care or dental care, so many Canadians supplement their healthcare coverage with private insurance from an independent provider or their employers to help offset these costs. For frequently asked questions about the Canada Health Act, visit here. 

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