Working In Canada
A Profile On What To Expect When Working In Canada
The following information may be of help in deciding whether you would be interested in a quantity surveying, engineering, or project management job based in Canada.
The currency used is the Canadian dollar (CAD), divided into 100 cents (¢). It is the 5th most traded currency in the foreign exchange market.
However, near border towns, some shops may accept US dollars; if this is the case, the exchange rate will be displayed in the shop. Canadians refer to $1 coins as “loonies” due to the picture of a loon on the coin, and $2 are referred to as “toonies”.
Political / Religious Climate
Canada’s system of government is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, much like the UK. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada and Head of State. The Governor General is the representative of the Queen in Canada, representing Canada during State visits abroad and receiving royal visitors, heads of state and foreign ambassadors.
While extremely diverse in terms of religion, Christianity is the largest religion in Canada according to the 2011 National Household Survey.
Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, while the territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
The provinces and territories make up the administrative divisions of the government throughout the country. Many government services, such as healthcare, education and driver licensing, are administered on a provincial or territorial level rather than at a national (federal) level.
Culture and Leisure
Canada has two official languages – English and French – meaning that many items will feature both languages (such as on packaging labels or public signs).
There is a huge range of leisure activities available, particularly for outdoor pursuits such as canoeing and hiking during the summer, or skiing and skating in the winter. Baseball and American football (or just “football” to Canadians) are popular summer sports, while ice hockey is close to a national pastime in the winter.
Public transport within cities is usually by bus or light rapid transit (LRT) in the larger cities. Many Canadians rely on personal vehicles for travel outside of the main cities, though Greyhound Buses offer long-distance travel between cities and provinces/territories. Rail links are available in some built-up areas but is more generally used for freight rather than passengers.
Being the second-biggest country in the world, the landscape is extremely varied, from mountains, to glaciers, forests and beaches, and covers six time zones. Weather-wise, Canada has a temperate climate with warm summers and cold winters to match.
Culturally, Canada is a smorgasbord of different nationalities, with equally diverse cuisine to match. While many restaurants will offer typical North American fare, many varieties of food are available wherever you are in the country.
The cost of living varies considerably depending on location, but overall is cheaper than the UK, Australia, and some European countries. For many people, a good standard of living can be had for less than it costs in their home country. Healthcare and education is subsidised through taxes, which ranges between 15% and 29% depending on earnings. Taxes on purchased goods and services varies by province, averaging around 15%, and is added on to prices at the till. Professional jobs in construction are likely to attract a benefits package with increased medical cover and other perks.
Accommodation and Education
Accommodation within Canada is likely to be one of the biggest monthly expenses, accounting for anywhere between 35–50% of total outgoings. Larger cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal cost more than smaller towns nearby, which will often have good transport links. Canadian homes tend to be larger than in Europe, though older or densely populated areas such as city centres may have smaller accommodation.
Education is free for children up to 18 years old, and post-secondary education is generally considered to be cheaper than universities in the US, though more expensive than Europe where there may be government subsidies.
No visa is required for British citizens visiting Canada, but an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is required before you fly.
To stay long term or work in Canada, a work permit is required. Often, an offer of employment from a Canadian employer is required before a work permit will be granted. Work permits are granted from anything from a few months to a few years, but will be valid for a defined period of time. If you wish to extend your stay, it is likely you will need to obtain Permanent Resident status.