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Will you survive the cold reality of Canadian living? | Immigration Matters

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Is Canada really such a wonderful country to live in as an expatriate, or are there reasons to reconsider relocation?

It’s important to invite reader feedback when you’re online and don’t have the benefit of face-to-face interaction with those who access your publication.  At Shelter Offshore we have always welcomed and encouraged our readers to get in touch, ask questions and give opinion…but occasionally because of the anonymous nature of emails and forms, we encounter trolls and bullies.

A recent example of this issue was when an expatriate living in Canada contacted us (anonymously) to vent his rage and wrath at having seemingly been ‘duped’ by all the positive hype about Canada.  His was, he said, the most miserable existence because publications like ours had ‘made him believe’ that Canada was a good place to live.

Thanks to his cloak of anonymity and invisibility he felt able to be threatening and aggressive.  Whilst one can dismiss such small people for their unacceptable behaviour, citing suspected sexual dysfunction as reason for their inferiority complexes, we did take on board the fact that Canada has perhaps been mis-sold through being oversold!  So, let’s look at the bad things about living in Canada to balance out our otherwise positive perspective!

What’s the Worst Thing About Living in Canada?

Whether you’re reading comments and opinions on forums or you’re reading articles and reports about emigration to Canada,  the most striking element is how much time is given to discussing the weather.  And specifically, the weather in Canada between November and March…

On ExpatForum’s Canada section for example, there’s even a sticky thread dedicated to this very theme.

Here are perhaps the most telling comments from the section that you need to take on board if you’re wondering whether Canada is for you.


“Vancouver area is the exception, and the ONLY exception.  There, it rains instead.

“I am putting this up as a sticky, because nine trillion people have asked the same question.  YES IT IS DAMN COLD IN CANADA IN THE WINTER.

“If it wasn’t there would be more than 30 million people over there.  The country would be FULL UP.

“It’s a great country.  Absolutely FULL of nature.  Full of great people, great sport, great everything.  BUT IT IS VERY COLD IN WINTER.

“READ THIS.  It is cold enough to freeze your hair solid if you come out of the pool with damp hair.  Cold enough to keep a frozen turkey on the deck for weeks before Christmas if it doesn’t fit in your freezer.  Cold enough to freeze your car radiator as you drive up the highway at 70 mph.

“By the way, people who come from Winnipeg call it WINTERPEG because the winters are cold and endless.  Children freeze to death if they escape from their houses and wander across to the neighbours in the middle of the day.  Within minutes.  This is true, not an urban myth.”

So, if you can cope with five months of unbearably cold weather, with snowdrifts, ice storms, high heating bills and an absolute restriction on your life caused by extreme weather, Canada may still be a good option.  However, it would be remiss of us not to perhaps further overstate this fact…because it really is so central to everyone’s life in Canada, (well, apart from those who live in British Columbia specifically in Vancouver or on Vancouver Island)…

“Speaking from experience: Just because the sun is out does NOT mean it warms up. I’ve actually seen it go from -25 in the morning to -38 in mid afternoon. – Not counting the wind-chill.

“People keep asking me if I’m used to the winters. . . You don’t get used to the winters, you just adapt.  You get a car with a remote starter, you stay inside as much as possible, and you put on LAYERS.”

“My brother in law who has lived in Calgary for 30 years wrote to tell me they had a snow fall last week—at the end of April!  Several years ago, my sister told me it snowed on July 1st—an extremely rare event, but still just the fact that it could happen!  The last time I visited Calgary in winter was about 14 years ago when the temperatures went down to -42 C.

“How long it takes you to get used to it depends entirely on the individual.  Most Canadians will tell you that you need to get involved in winter activities.  I lived there for 38 years (born in Northern Ontario) and could never get used to it and so moved to L.A.”

So there you have it.  The worst thing about Canada is the weather.  Which doesn’t actually sound like such a bad thing in the scheme of the world’s problems does it?  And yet we cannot underestimate the impact of the climate on the experience of living in Canada.  We dare not!

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Well, in the past we’ve rated the Canadian immigration authority’s inclusive attitude towards immigration.  Generally their attitude, (on paper at least), is that families that want to stick together should be enabled and allowed to do so, because those who have their family network around them make the best expats.

The family reunification policy should be reason to further promote Canada: however, it turns out that the Canadian immigration authority is not as inclusive, progressive or dynamic as they would like us all to believe.

For example, as of last month there is a backlog of over a million people waiting to hear whether their application for immigration has been successful.  That means that 1 million lives are on hold because the immigration authority can’t get their act together!

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturism minister Jason Kenney recently told a meeting at the Vancouver Board of Trade: “We have enough parent and grandparent applicants for seven years, and this problem is getting worse.  The federal business class, meanwhile, has enough applicants for six years.  In addition, we have enough live in caregiver applicants for permanent residence for more than two years.”

Added to this really negative aspect about Canada is that expats face massive barriers to employment.

Statistics Canada identified that there are barriers in place such as the accreditation of skills and qualifications for example – and this can affect many who dream of a new life, who apply for an employment related visa, and who are then scuppered at the last minute when they realise their hard won skills are just not translatable!

We did come across a positive resource for anyone affected – it shows you where to start in terms of getting skills accreditation in Canada – but for an affected expat, that’s hardly the point.  The point is that if Canada continues to bang on about needing skilled migrants, they need to make it easier for them to immigrate to Canada.

The Last Word About Canada’s Downsides

In the past we’ve tried to present a balanced opinion of Canada with articles such as our ‘pros and cons of emigration’ – however, perhaps we have been guilty of painting the nation in rosy shades of positivity?

What do you think?  As always we welcome constructive, helpful and comments.

Almost half of Canadians see immigration as positive

Around half the respondents to a groundbreaking global poll believe immigration has had a negative impact on their countries, according to recent survey by Ipsos.

And while Canadians have a relatively upbeat attitude on immigration, only a minority of Canadians polled – 39 per cent – viewed its impact as positive.

See also:

Why the world wants to be Canadian


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2 Responses to “Will you survive the cold reality of Canadian living?”
Read them below or add one

  1. Your experience is quite common. People think that all you need is a Canadian immigrant visa and everything will be laid on for them. Not true.

  2. i have been researching various sites on the internet about what the government of canada is saying in support of its open immigration policy and yes though it has painted a rosy picture to prospective immigrants there are loads of other sites and forums available which give one a reality husband is an aeronautical engineer here with 14 years of experience under his belt, i myself have an MSc in international relations, still what i have come across is that we must be realistic in what we expect from immigrating to canada and to expect to work our asses off in the first few years of arrival.a.we will have to work very hard b.we should be open to doing all sorts of jobs.c. we would probably have to invest more time and money into recertifying our degrees. meanwhile, my concerns would be that we and our 2 children are safe, well fed, under a roof and getting proper schooling. ofcourse it will not be easy in the begining. those who rant and rave should have done their homework first before immigrating which is a huge thing and not childsplay.

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