What makes Canada a great place to live?

28 March 2022 by National Bank
A newly Canadian family enjoys the nice weather in front of the house.

Wondering about the ins and outs of living in Canada and what makes it a great place to live? It’s a very large, diverse country with a strong economy and attractive social policies for families and entrepreneurs. Here’s an overview of some of the benefits of living in Canada. 

Is the quality of life good in Canada?

Yes. Canada is often at the top of the list of the best countries to live in. The country is typically praised for its affordability, access to education and health, political stability, individual freedom and environmental protection.

Canadians generally enjoy a fairly strong social safety net, which ensures access to health care and education. Measures are in place to protect and help people with special needs, such as seniors or newcomers looking for work.

The crime rate is also relatively low. Of course, not everything is perfect, but it’s a country that offers its residents many opportunities to grow and prosper. 

Is health care free in Canada?

Yes and no. When you become a Canadian taxpayer, you pay tax on your income, plus taxes on almost everything you buy. This money is used to fund the health care system, among other things. This means that when you need care, you don’t have to pay out of pocket at a clinic or hospital. Because the system is apparently “free,” it may seem more affordable, but remember that you actually pay for it in small amounts throughout your life based on your income level.

In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for managing health care services. While the federal government is involved in funding and some very specific areas of expertise (like drug approval), you still need to register with the provincial government to get a health insurance card.

Good to know: There are private health care clinics in Canada, and they are not free. Some people use them when they want service faster, such as for tests. In addition, dental and vision care are not covered by government health insurance, but most companies enroll their employees in supplementary insurance plans that cover much of the costs. Lastly, you may have to pay a deductible and part of the cost of prescription drugs.

Are there many jobs available in Canada?

Generally speaking, Canada’s unemployment rate is relatively low and compares favourably with other industrialized countries. Due to the aging population, many companies see immigration as a solution for meeting their labour needs.

Many employers in industries such as health care, video game development, construction and manufacturing are looking for workers.

To work in Canada, you must follow administrative procedures to be in good standing. If you’re a professional in your home country, you’ll need to have your credentials recognized by professional organizations in Canada. This process can take time and may even require you to go back to school.

How affordable is the real estate market in Canada?

It’s common knowledge that the real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver are among the most expensive in Canada. Montreal has long remained quite affordable, but prices have risen significantly in recent years. 

Don’t let that stop you from looking for a property in these cities—they’re exciting and rewarding places to live, with a wealth of services for newcomers. In fact, municipalities often have programs to help people become homeowners.

Real estate prices tend to drop as you move away from urban centres, but the distance may mean additional expenses, such as buying an extra car.

You can start by renting your first home while you settle in and explore your community. A few years down the road, you’ll have a better idea of what you want.

Learn about the buying process and the steps and details involved in purchasing a property in Canada.

What is the cost of living in Canada?

An important part of quality of life is your purchasing power. While the cost of living is considered reasonable in Canada, it depends, of course, on your income level and consumer choices.

Find out how much you need to budget for a variety of expenses, such as transportation, Internet and banking. 

What types of savings programs are there in Canada?

When you move to Canada, you’ll need to get used to new banking and financial acronyms, such as RRSP, TFSA, QPP and more.

Registered savings accounts and plans

The Canadian government has created a number of programs, credits and savings vehicles to help you achieve your financial goals. They offer benefits, whether you’re saving for your retirement with an RRSP, for your children’s education with an RESP or for personal projects with a TFSA. Learn more about registered savings accounts and plans.

Retirement income programs

When you work in Canada, deductions are made from your paycheck, some of which are used to ensure you have a minimum income when you retire. Your pay stub is an excellent source of information for understanding deductions. 

If you live and work in Quebec, you’ll see a deduction for the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). The federal equivalent is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Starting at age 65, you may have access to the Old Age Security Pension (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Tax credits

You must file an income tax return each year when you live in Canada. You can complete it yourself using software or a package provided by the government or hire a professional. 

The purpose of the return is to correct your tax affairs with the federal and provincial governments. For example, if tax was withheld from your pay and you overpaid, you may get a refund. On the other hand, if you didn’t pay any tax at all during the year (because you were self-employed, for example), you must calculate the amounts you have to remit to the government.

You may also be eligible for one or more credits, which reduce your taxable income and therefore your tax payable. That can be a tremendous advantage.

What are the differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada?

Every province and territory in Canada has its own unique characteristics, but you’ll quickly notice that Quebec is different in many respects, particularly with regard to immigration and taxes.

Quebec is the only province with a French-speaking majority. To protect the French language and its heritage, the Quebec government has the right to control immigration. Not only do you have to be accepted by the federal government, but also by the Quebec government.

It’s also the only province in Canada where you have to file two tax returns: one for the provincial and one for the federal government. In other provinces and territories, the federal government administers the tax system and remits the money collected to the provincial and territorial governments.

You should also know that the legal system differs between Quebec, which uses civil law for some matters, and the rest of Canada, which practises common law. 

Moving to Canada to live and work could be one of the important decisions of your life. But immigration always has challenges. That’s why we recommend being well informed so that your experience is rich and meaningful. See our tips to make your arrival easier if you’re thinking of moving to Canada. We’re here to answer your questions. 

For more tips, visit nbc.ca.

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