What pisses off an immigrant in Canada?
I'm going to tell you about the 10 downsides of Canada.
I've been living in Canada for six years, I generally like everything, and I'm used to a lot of things. But there are still things that annoy me.
Immigrants come to Canada for a reason. Some come here for high wages, some for good education, and some are fleeing war. And some simply dream of living in a country from pictures on the Internet, with beautiful mountains, lakes, and developed metropolitans. However, disappointment can set in at the moment of applying for immigration, because the process of moving is not quick, but I'll get back to that later.
When you move to Canada, you come to a different country with different rules and mentality. Here, people live differently from what you are used to in your home country. For example, some people may find the friendliness and smile of Canadians fake, and that can be annoying. I'm quite happy with people smiling, I do it myself, and it's not fake at all.
Cost of living
Let me tell you what annoys me personally. Like many newcomers, I don't like the high prices, cost of living, and taxes. It is expensive to live in Canada. Of course, not in all cities — somewhere it’s cheaper, somewhere it’s more expensive. But for immigrants, the difference with their homeland is noticeable.
Real estate prices have recently risen even more. We bought a house with a pool in Montreal suburbs for $410,000 CAD in 2016, and it costs twice as much in 2022. The higher the prices, the higher the loan payments. Insurance and property taxes are also high. If you are just coming to Canada, rental prices will definitely upset you.
Quality of houses
By the way, the quality of houses here is often not very good. They are literally made of plywood and cardboard. This year in Ottawa, we moved here from Montreal, there was a storm, and our roof was blown off in places. The neighbours were hit even harder. I would also add poor soundproofing to the downside of the quality of houses. When my youngest son Lucas jumps on the second floor, he can be heard everywhere. As well as when someone flushes the toilet.
Prices for goods
Another unpleasant thing is that you see one price on the shelf in a store, but pay a different price at the cash register. In some countries, if the price tag says that an iPhone costs $1,000, that's what you have to pay. That's not the case in Canada, because the price tags don't show the total price of the item, they show the price excluding taxes. As a result, at the cash register, you pay 13% more in Ontario and almost 15% more in Quebec, where we used to live. You have to get used to it and always keep it in mind.
On the other hand, you should not be too frightened by high prices and taxes. Especially do not recalculate prices in your currency, otherwise, you will just be constantly shocked. Remember that wages are much higher in Canada, too. I have interviewed many guys who have immigrated to Canada, they have enough for everything. Not just for everyday expenses, but also to buy cars, houses, and so on. However, from your wage, you will pay taxes as well. If you want to know more about expenses in Canada, read our article about the income and expenses of the average Canadian family.
In Canada, it is customary to leave a tip in the service industry. It irritates me a lot because at our immigration company we work just as hard, but no one leaves a tip. Tips are taken everywhere. For example, I go into a pizzeria, and I am handed a terminal for payment by card, which by default displays a request for a tip. And it's cleverly done — there's a choice of 15%, 18%, 20%, and an option to enter your tip amount. I am forced to choose front of the salesperson, and it causes discomfort.
As I don’t like feeling this kind of awkwardness, I order delivery. There you can reward the person who brings the order. But if we go back to the prices, they are high. Let's say the pizzas cost $50 CAD, you have to add 13% tax and 15% tip. In the end, you pay $65 CAD, which is plus 30% of the order.
Tips are left not only in cafes and restaurants. If a master comes to you to fix something, or if you have your nails done in a salon, prepare at least 10% of the amount of service.
What really annoys me is Canadian free medicine. Canadians are proud of it, but they just have nothing to compare it to. Yes, most doctors' appointments are free, but you have to wait in huge queues. And appointments for narrow-profile specialists must be made a year or even more in advance. Some tests are free, and some extended ones are paid.
Also, free medicine doesn’t cover the ophthalmologist and dentist. And the prices, as you understand, are enormous. So, immigrants often go to their home countries to neighboring countries and attend private clinics to get their teeth treated or undergo surgery.
I want to make a little justification for Canadian medicine so that you don’t think that everything is very bad here. Patients with serious medical conditions or something urgent are treated quickly. So those who have an ordinary fever or non-urgent surgery have to wait.
Everything takes a long time
In Ukraine, where I am from, and other post-Soviet countries, service is very well developed and everything is done quickly. But in Canada, people are used to a more measured lifestyle. Here everything takes a long time. For example, we waited more than five years for our document processing to move to Canada. Of course, it is very annoying, but there is nothing you can do about it, and you have to get used to it.
By the way, if you need help with immigration or getting a visa, contact our company. We have developed a special information system that instantly selects suitable immigration programs for our clients, and there are officially more than 120 of them in Canada. This way we can save you a lot of time.
Poor service and backward technology
Apart from poor service, Canada has backward banks. Online banking is less developed than in Ukraine, and transactions take a long time. Transfers can freeze for several hours, and credit cards can only be reloaded a few days in advance. Immigrants, whose countries provide such services quickly, may be annoyed by sluggishness, and in general, they may feel that Canada is behind the times.
Canadians are trying to introduce some modern technology, but it's discouraging. It's very hard to get the right person on the phone. A tedious robot prompts you to press many digits. Then dozens of minutes or even hours of waiting, and the call is disconnected. The RBC bank went further — the robot prompts me with a voice to say the reason for the call, and with my accent, I rarely get through to the right section.
In Canada, each specialist is responsible for only a small area. Let's look at the example of visiting a bank. I often get the feeling that I know more than its employees. Some specialize only in mortgages, others in card issues, others in investments, and so on. No one person knows everything.
Our clients also don’t always understand why we do not offer turnkey immigration to Canada. The fact is that my wife Ivanna is an immigration consultant, she is only responsible for a narrow range of visa and immigration services. She doesn’t do translations, doesn’t write CVs, and can’t learn English for you. On the other hand, we cooperate with translators, language schools, or people who will help in areas that go beyond immigration.
And another unpleasant thing about Canada is the roads. In the cities, the pavement on the roads is not always fresh and smooth, there are a lot of cracks, patches, and potholes. In Montreal, there are constant repairs, and people die from potholes. A few years ago, a Ukrainian who got caught in a pothole with his tire, died in such a way. Ottawa already has a million people, but the city was clearly not planned for that number of residents. There are few lines, and if an elderly woman is driving leisurely ahead, you can't avoid her.
Urban extinction in the evening
At first, it annoyed me that Canadian cities die out after 6 p.m. Many stores or offices close at that time. You can hardly find 24-hour supermarkets, in Ottawa, for example, I don't know of any. Cultural events are reduced to mass festivities. I remember in winter, to have fun, we drove an hour to get to a place where there was an axe-throwing event.
After Poland, where I first moved from Ukraine, there is a very noticeable difference in restaurants. In Canada, it's mostly fast food. Lest you think it's that bad, there are posh expensive restaurants in Montreal or Toronto, and there are also festivals and world-class artists' performances. But these are rather exceptions; there's not much of a movement in Canada.
Of course, Canada is not a perfect country; there are disadvantages everywhere. It all depends on you and your willingness to accept the disadvantages of the country which you are immigrating to. The main thing is that there are more pros.