What life in Canada is like for immigrants from India

30 June 2023 by National Bank
Photo of a man and his son cleaning dishes

For newcomers from India, life in Canada is just as diverse, with more than a million Canadians of Indian heritage calling this country home. And if you’re thinking of starting a new life in Canada, there are a few things to consider before making the move (such as buying a winter coat). Here’s what you need to know.

Canada is made up of 10 provinces and three territories, each managing their own healthcare, and education systems, along with other particularities. This article is meant as a general introduction to the benefits of living in Canada. Please keep in mind, however, there may be provincial differences and specific details that aren’t mentioned. 

What do I need to know about working in Canada? 

Start by networking 

Moving to a new country is both exciting and overwhelming. Meeting new people and building your network is a good way to make the transition easier, both professionally and socially. Ahead of your arrival, you can join a professional organization online and participate in group discussions. Once you’re here, volunteering, local meetups related to your industry and even just saying hello to your new neighbours could put you on the path to finding a job. 

Where to start your job search 

You can start your hunt and find work-related information on Canadian job search sites. There are also federal and provincial government job sites. To simplify the application process, you can build an online profile and check back often, as listings are updated daily. 

What languages are spoken in Canada 

Canada has two official languages: English and French. If you speak one (or both!) of them, you’ll find it a lot easier to adapt to life in Canada. If not, there are English and French classes available, some of which are free for immigrants, to help you improve your skills. The more effort you put into speaking one of the official languages, the easier it will be to find a job, make friends and create opportunities.  

Good to know: In Quebec, the only official language is French, but some international companies will hire English-speaking employees.

Get foreign credentials assessed and create your resume 

Getting foreign work and education credentials assessed can take a long time, particularly in highly regulated fields such as medicine, accounting and engineering. Make sure to start the process as early as possible. You might have to look for temporary work while you wait. You can also use that time to work on your résumé. Make sure to include your education credentials and job experience, but also detail specific tasks and goals you have accomplished, and highlight your skills and areas of expertise

What jobs are in-demand in Canada 

Employment is booming in Canada, and the country needs workers. Immigration is one of its most important sources of labour. Add to that the fact that the average salary for recent immigrants is on the rise, and the job market is one of the attractions of living in Canada. 

In terms of the number of workers across Canadian provinces, healthcare is the biggest employer. According to recruitment company Randstad, the top 15 most in-demand jobs in Canada in 2023 are: 

  1. Developer 
  2. HR manager 
  3. Mechanical engineer 
  4. Welder 
  5. Accounting technician 
  6. Registered nurse 
  7. Warehouse worker 
  8. Customer service representative 
  9. Driver 
  10. Sales associate 
  11. Administrative assistant 
  12. Business systems analyst 
  13. Production supervisor 
  14. Digital marketing coordinator 
  15. Construction project manager 

As the labour market fluctuates, make sure to consult current lists of in-demand jobs when you’re considering your move. 

The difference between public and private benefit programs 

Many companies offer benefit programs as part of their compensation package. These often include private health insurance, paid vacation and other types of time off, and even pension plans. During the recruitment process, be sure to inquire about the benefits the employer offers.

Canada also has many public services and benefits available to permanent residents and holders of valid work permits. A few of the main ones include: 

  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP): Anyone over 18 with a valid work permit who has over $3,500 in declared work income contributes to the CPP and can therefore access this pension plan when they retire. 
  • Employment insurance (EI): Once you’ve paid into EI for a certain number of weeks, this program will offer you temporary income support if you become unemployed and need to look for a new job or upgrade your skills. It will also provide some support if you need to take time off work for illness, a pregnancy or to act as a caregiver. 
  • Maternity and parental benefits: As part of EI, the Canadian government provides financial assistance to new parents. You could be eligible for up to 55 percent of your income for a period of 12 months or up to 33 percent of your income for an extended period of 18 months. 

How does studying in Canada work? 

How Canadian and Indian academic levels are organized 

Though very similar, the education systems in Canada and India also have a few differences. Here’s how they compare at the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels. 



Elementary school

Students attend primary (or elementary school) from ages 5 to 12.

Students attend primary school from ages 6 to 14; primary school is divided into lower primary (Grades 1 to 5) and upper primary (Grades 6 to 8).

Secondary school

Students attend secondary (or high) school from ages 12 to 17 (in Quebec) or 18 (in the rest of the country).

Students attend secondary school from ages 14 to 18; it includes Grades 9 to 12. Grades 10 to 12 are sometimes referred to as higher secondary.

Post-secondary school

Post-secondary education includes colleges, where students earn certificates and diplomas, and universities, where students work towards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

The tertiary level of education in India resembles the one in Canada. The university route involves the same levels of degree. However, the vocational route is more technical and specialized than it is in India.

The cost of studying in Canada for immigrants from India 

At the primary and secondary level, public education is free, with parents covering the costs of school supplies and extracurricular activities.  

As in India, there are private schools in Canada. The public system is quite good, so only 5 percent of students attend fee-paying schools. Most private schools in Canada cost between $6,000 and $12,000 per year, depending on the grade. 

The cost of post-secondary education varies depending on the institution, program and province, but tuition fees generally run between $2,500 and $8,000, which is considerably less than the United States. (It’s often higher for international students without permanent residency status, but many schools also offer entrance scholarships.) 

Canadian Lifestyle: What is life in Canada like for immigrants from India? 

The cost of living in Canada is higher 

From local market produce, cell phone and internet plans to childcare, rent and real estate – everything costs less in India. Also, bargaining is not really practised in Canada (except when buying big ticket items such as a house or car, or when negotiating your interest rate on a financial loan).   

As in India, tipping is a common practice in Canada. Generally, tipping is expected for: 

  • Restaurant service and food delivery 
  • Taxis or ride-sharing services  
  • Hairdressers and barbers  
  • Housekeeping staff in hotels 

Tips for food and transportation services are usually between 15 percent and 18 percent of the cost of the service, depending on the quality and extent of the service provided. 

However, Canadian salaries are generally proportionate to the higher cost of living, which is still relatively low compared to similar countries such as the U.S., France and the U.K.  

Canada has a universal healthcare system  

Canada has a tax-funded universal healthcare system, which means it offers most healthcare services and all emergency medical services for free. To access these services, register for a health card in the province you live in

Good to know: There is a mandatory waiting period before you are eligible for health coverage in the following provinces and territories: 

  • British Columbia 
  • Saskatchewan 
  • Ontario 
  • Quebec 
  • The Yukon 
  • Northwest Territories 
  • Nunavut

Access is immediate in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Canada’s temperature is a mix of cold winters and hot summers   

It’s not called the Great White North for nothing. Between December and March or April, Canada can get quite cold (especially compared to India), and most cities can expect to see snow. Temperatures during these months often drop well below 0° Celsius, but Canadian homes and businesses are well-insulated and built for a colder climate.  

Canada is a huge country, and much like the different regions in India, different areas experience different weather conditions. British Columbia’s coastal region, for example, has the mildest winter in the country, with temperatures hovering between 0° and 5° Celsius. Canada is also known for having four distinct seasons, with beautiful mild weather in the spring and fall, and warm summer days. 

Overall, the quality of life in Canada is high 

Despite the higher cost of living (and chilly winters) compared to India, Canada ranks No. 3 when it comes to quality of life. Canada is an inclusive country that respects human rights, with strong education and universal healthcare systems. It’s also among the safest countries in the world, with a very low crime rate. 

Every country is exceptional in its own way, and Canada and India are no different. As you weigh the pros and cons of living in Canada, it’s important to consider your overall health and happiness on top of the financial aspects. There are lots of resources and organizations available to make your transition to a Canadian lifestyle easier, so you can be sure to get off to a great start, both socially and financially. 

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