Nearly 10 years ago I immigrated to Canada. I gave up a successful legal practice and my other business interests to start a new life in Canada. People ask me all the time why my family and I chose Canada. What makes Canada unique and special?
Although I did lots of research before making the decision to move to Canada, over the past 10 years I have discovered for myself what makes Canada special and why the country and its cities are consistently ranked amongst the top places to live in the world by the UN. I have discovered what it means to be truly Canadian. I have learn’t to appreciate what Canadians so often refer to as Canadian values and to understand how important they are to being Canadian.
Canada is a country that is built on immigration and immigrants continue to play a very dynamic and important role in the development of both the economy and culture of the country. It is very rarely that you will come across a Canadian who will not be able to trace his or her roots back through their parents, grandparents or great grandparents to another country in the world. That is of course if they themselves are not an immigrant.
Canada needs immigrants. It needs people who have the ability to become economically established and who can add to the cultural fabric of society. But that doesn’t mean that Canada is desperate. Far from it! There are many people waiting in line (some have been waiting a really long time too!) to be considered for permanent residence visas and there are many of those applicants who regretfully will not meet the selection criteria. For those who are selected, the adventure and a new life will begin when they arrive in Canada to take up their residency. It will be a very worthwhile reward at the end of a lengthy and complex process. And they will start to understand what it means to be truly Canadian:
People in Canada can live their lives according to their individual value system. Canadians see richness in diversity and what makes each of us different, rather than seeing this as a divisive factor. This is apparent in everyday life and not just something protected in the constitution. Differences in lifestyle and divergent opinions are respected and accepted rather than criticized. Canadians care about Canadians.
Canada has an excellent health care system. I know of someone recently who experienced some chest pains – what followed was an ambulance ride following a 911 call, admission into hospital, the attention of a cardiac specialist and other doctors, additional diagnostic procedures, and an ECG. This person was diagnosed with a heart condition that required immediate surgery and an extended stay in hospital. There was no cost to the patient other than the very reasonable monthly premium he pays to the government. I have my own private family physician, however if I wanted, I could drive a few kilometers down the road and visit one of our local walk in clinics (there are about 4 in close proximity to where I live). I could see a doctor immediately. Again, outside of the very affordable premium I pay to the government each month, there would be no cost to me (the same would apply if I saw my own doctor).
We don’t like guns in Canada. In fact we have strict gun control and only people who have a very good reason to possess a gun are permitted to do so. Compared to most countries in the world, Canada has a very low rate of crime. Where I live, (a 30 minute drive from the city centre of Vancouver), our biggest concern are the bears that wander through the garden in the summer. One or two of the larger cities may not be as free of litter as the other cities in Canada, but on the whole our cities are clean and have low levels of smog and pollution. The roads are in great shape and the environment is very well maintained. Things work in Canada. Levels of service are high and there are few instances where you will find that you are not treated courteously and with respect.
Canada is a true democracy. The quality of life factor is high. The economy is in great shape. For people with drive and initiative the sky is the limit in Canada. It is a privilege to call myself Canadian.