My name is Jim Bunting. I was born in Toronto about 60 years ago, and my family history in Canada dates back to 1801, when my ancestors came here from Ireland. So we have been in Canada for over 200 years.
I'm going to try to give some basic factual information about life in Canada, that is NOT about the Immigration process.
Some of it may be very basic, but I'll start with the things that make my country unique.
Canada is the second largest country in the world, only Russia is bigger than Canada, in square miles area, BUT we have one of the lowest ratios of "people per square kilometre" in the world.
For example the UK has a average densiity of about 1200 people for every square kilometre of land, while the same measurement in Canada is only THREE persons per square kilometre of land. Even in our largest city, Toronto, the density is only about one third of that to be found in London. In London, the average density in the city is 12,000 people per square kilometer and in Toronto the number is only 4,000 people per square kilometre.
Canada was developed, to the greatest degree during the 20th century, so it stands to reason that our cities and towns were designed for cars and trucks, not horses and wagons. This is immediately obvious when you see how we are able to get around with out the kind of traffic jams that are common place in the UK.
So here are a few things that you won't see in Canada, that are common in the UK.
Traffic round abouts. Rare here.
National strikes. Not allowed by law here, as only the workers that are directly employed by the company can legally strike. So no "sympathy strikes" are allowed. The emergency services are fobidden to strike by law, so no national firefighters strike, or ambulance workers strike.
Violent demonstrations with a hundred thousand people fighting Police in the streets of the city. Canadians are not that anti- anything, and we tend to be more orderly, if we do parade.
Anti-Immigrant political parties, and white power groups. The idea that a political party like the National Party could elect even ONE MP in our Parliament would be scary to Canadians, at large. Immigrants to Canada are expected to be lawfulll and contribute to our society, and in return we offer them a great place to live, with tremendous personal freedom and peace.
Now for some random phrases that you will perhaps not be familiar with.
CPP. The Canada Pension Plan, a mandatory deduction, from your wages, every pay period, that is matched by your employer, that goes towards a retirement pension at age 65. The amount is based on your gross earnings, each pay period. It is NOT suppossed to be a entire income at retirement, but only a minimum to build on, with your own contributions to a private savings retirement plan, called a RRSP ( Registered Retirement Savings Plan ) Contributions to the RRSP are NOT taxed untill you officially retire, ay which time you will be in a lower tax bracket due to a reduced income level. You choose at what age you want to retire after age 65. There is no age at which you "must retire " in Canada.
EI. Employment Insurance. A mandatory deduction from your wages, each pay period. This again is matched by your employer, every pay period, and is sent to the federal Government. This fund is a plan that pays you, if you loose your job, thru no fault of your own ( you won't get paid EI if you "quit " a job ). It will pay you for up to 36 weeks and at a rate that is about 66percent of your previous gross pay.
RE-training programs. Many times, a company goes out of business, and the employees are eligible, for a "retraining program " that is paid for by either the Federal or the Provincial Government. These are designed to get the person working again, but not allways in their original kind of job. The person is paid thru the EI program, while the school costs are paid by the re-training program. Those with small kids get free child care to enable them to attend the courses. Many women have moved into the construction trades, thru the retraining programs.
Settlement assistance programs. Federal Government, and the Provinces all have local offices that are staffed and mandated to HELP you get started in Canada, in many ways. They are a great source of information once you are in Canada, and they are FREE.
RCMP. The national Police service in Canada. They are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they are a modern and effective Police force. In 8 of the 10 Provices, and in the 3 Territories, they ARE the Police, that you will see and deal with on a daily basis .Ontario and Quebec have Provincial Police forces of their own and both of them also have city and town Police forces, as well. All Police officers in Canada are armed at all times, when on duty, including plain clothes, and detectives.
CPR. The Canadian Pacific Railway, a national railroad freight service .
CNR, also a national railway freight service.
VIA RAIL. The national passenger rtrain service.
Greyhound bus lines. National buses, for intercity travel.
Air Canada. The national airline in Canada. Thera are other smaller domestic carriers, especially in the far north.
Float planes, bush planes. Small aircraft, usually single engines, equipped with pontoons, in summer and skiis in winter, that can land and take off from water, or snow. The bush plane is the taxi and freighter of the far north, and the bush plane is ubiquitous in Canada, They are everywhere.
Snowmobiles. Again , the best way to have fun and or get someplace in the winter, away from the cities and towns. A Canadian invention back in the 1930's. the "skidoo" is the best way to travel in the bush in winter, along the cleared trails. In Ontario, alone, there are over 100,000 kilometres of maked and groomed recreational snowmobile trails. Snowmobile clubs abound here, in Canada.
Hydro. Electricity that is generated by water power, such as at Niagara Falls. When we talk about HYDRO we are talking about the electrical system that connects to our homes and offices. In Ontario about 50 percent of all the electrical energy is water power, that is produced by dams and generators on our over 250, 000 lakes and rivers, with the other 50 percent coming from nuclear generating stations. Coal is on the way out here.
Townships, and concession roads.
In most of Ontario and southern Quebec, the land is nicely divided into squares and grids of roads. This was done by the British Army's Engineers, in the 1800's to ensure that the newcomers would be able to find their " land grants " easilly. The modern secondary ( country ) roads reflect this orderly system to this day. If you look at the maps, you will immediately see the magic that this really is. Every township has a checker board apperance from the air, and it is really easy to find a location such as ........The 10 th sideroad, lot 12, of Caledon Township, if
you know how it works. And of course, EVERY farm in Ontario, and every rural house has a big reflective NUMBER sign by the entrance lane, that identifies it at night, in an emegency. So if somebody says that they live at number 12,990 Heritage Road, find the road, then find the number and you are there. This applies anywhere in the whole Province of Ontario, with a population of 13 million people.
The term Concession road reffers to the original land holder having had a Concession, or a Commission in the British Army. My ancestors, although Irish, had all served in the British Army, prior to coming to Canada, so they got 120 acres each, for free, and all they had to do was build a 20 foot square cabin, within two years, to be the certified owner of that land. Of course that was NOT easy, as the trees that they had to cut down were about 150 to 200 feet high and as much as 12 feet around at the ground. This was Virgin forest, never cut before.
Aboriginals. The original "First Nations" in Canada, formerly called "indians". There are about one million Aboriginals now alive in Canada, and most live on "reserves " that are self governing, local authorities. If a aboriginal person lives on a reserve, they pay NO taxes, and they can hunt fish and trap all year, unlike the rest of us who have to observe the laws on when and where we can fish hunt or trap. Some reserves are prosperous, but most are not. This is due, in my opinion, to a long history of "Government hand outs " that have created a welfare mentality.
Double double. A take out coffee, with two sugars and two measures of cream ( 18 percent cream to make it nice and smooth ).
OK lots to read and think about, yes?
I'll add to this as I have the time to do so.
Any questions? Ask me here, and I'll be glad to help.
Cheers. Jim Bunting.