Immigrate or Study in Canada

A photo of Canada


Canada has a reputation of being one of the friendliest countries in the world, with a great international student and one of the most positive immigration policies in the world.  Canada has consistently ranked in the top 15 of the world's "best nations" to live in.  Three Canadian cities have also found their way to various lists of "most livable cities" in the world over the past three years: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver. Small wonder that so many people want to settle permanently in the country!

As the largest of three countries that make up North America (the United States of America and Mexico are the other two), Canada is the second largest country in the world (after Russia) with a total area (land and water) of 9,984,670 sq. km.  Canada is the world's largest country that borders only one country (the USA).  The total land boundaries is 8,893 km, including 2,477 km, shared with Alaska.  Climate varies from temperate in the south to subarctic and arctic in the north.

Not many know this but Canada has more fresh water than any other country in the world with at least two million lakes: more than all other countries combined!  As of 2012, a total of 8,700 sq. km. was irrigated land.  With all of its natural resources (iron, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, natural gas, hydropower to name a few), approximately 6.8% of land has been devoted to agriculture while 34.1% is forest cover. 

As a high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system and high living standards.  In addition, the country's petroleum sector is rapidly expanding, because Alberta's oil sands significantly boosted Canada's proven oil reserves. Canada now ranks third in the world in proved oil reserves behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer.

Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with the US, which absorbs about three-fourths of Canadian merchandise exports each year. Canada is the US's largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, and electric power, and a top source of US uranium imports.  Given its abundant natural resources, highly skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoyed solid economic growth for several years.

Administratively, Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories as follows:

  • Provinces:
    • Alberta (AB)
    • British Columbia (BC)
    • Manitoba (MB)
    • New Brunswick (NB)
    • Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)
    • Nova Scotia (NS)
    • Ontario (ON)
    • Prince Edward Island (PE)
    • Quebec (QC)
    • Saskatchewan (SK)
  • Territories:
    • Northwest Territories (NT)
    • Nunavut (NU)
    • Yukon (YT)

Living in Canada

The population of Canada was estimated at 35,362,905 in July 2016.  However, most Canadian live about 300 km of the southern border with the United States.  The most populated Canadian province is Ontario followed by Quebec and British Columbia.  About 81.8% of the total population in 2015 lived in urban centers broken down as follows:

  • Toronto, 5.993 million
  • Montreal 3.981 million
  • Vancouver 2.485 million
  • Calgary 1.337 million
  • OTTAWA (capital) 1.326 million
  • Edmonton 1.272 million

If you intend to immigrate to Canada, you would be happy to note that many Canadians are able to identify more than one ethnic origin in their families.  While English and French are the official languages, other languages are spoken as well including Punjabi, Italian, Spanish, German, Cantonese, Tagalog and Arabic.

In 2015, the largest age group in Canada were people whose ages ranged between 25 and 54 years old, followed by people aged 65 years and older.  The third largest group were children, aged 0 to 14 years old.  In fact, the median age for Canadians is currently estimated at 42 years old: males 40.8 year; female 43.3 years.

The government of Canada cares for its citizens and residents with a good number of Social Welfare programs offered by the federal government including:

  • Free healthcare program and children education until Grade 12;
  • Unemployment insurance;
  • Social welfare allowance;
  • Pension plan;
  • Old age pension;
  • Childcare benefits.

Canada has also one of the finest health care systems in the world with excellent hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices in almost all communities. National Health Insurance coverage is encouraged as health services may be available free of charge to Canadian residents who are registered in the program.

Wages & Salaries

The federal jurisdiction includes labour market sectors coming under federal authority by virtue of the Constitution, such as international and interprovincial transportation, telecommunication and banking.  In most jurisdictions, these rates also apply to young workers although there is a special minimum wage rate for inexperienced employees. 

Current Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Experienced Adult Workers in Canada (Canadian Dollar)

Jurisdiction Effective Date Hourly Wage Rate
Alberta 1-Oct-17 13.60
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 11.35
Manitoba 1-Oct-17 11.15
New Brunswick 1-Apr-17 11.00
New Foundland and Labrador 1-Oct-17 11.00
Northwest Territories 1-Jun-15 12.50
Nova Scotia 1-Apr-17 10.85
Nunavut 1-Apr-16 13.00
Ontario* 1-Oct-17 11.60
Prince Edward Island 1-Apr-17 11.25
Quebec 1-May-17 11.25
Saskatchewan** 1-Oct-17 10.96
Yukon*** 1-Apr-17 11.32


* On October 1 of year year, this rate increases based on changes to the Consumer Price Index

** On October 1 of each year, this rate increases based on the average of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index and the percentage change in average hourly wage for Saskatchewan during the previous year. Minimum wage increases are subject to Cabinet approval.

*** On April 1 of each year, this rate increases by an amount corresponding to the annual increase for the preceding year in the Consumer Price Index for the city of Whitehorse.

Source: Minimum Wage Database. Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Adult Workers in Canada., Last Visited November 2, 2017

Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Young Workers and Specific Occupations (in CAD)

Unless specified otherwise, minimum wage rates for young workers are the same as for adult workers.

Jurisdiction Effective Date Wage Rate Note
Federal 18-Dec-1996   Workers under 17 years of age receive the same rate as the general adult rate in the province or territory where they work.
Alberta 1-Oct-17 542.00/week For commercial salespersons; automobile, truck or bus salespersons; mobile or residential home salespersons; farm machinery salespersons; construction equipment salespersons and commission salespersons who solicit orders for later delivery.
Alberta 1-Oct-17 2,582.00/month For domestic employees residing primarily in the employer's home.
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 - Crop harvesters employed on a piece rate basis and who hand harvest selected fruits, vegetables, berry crops, or daffodils. For instance, the rate for strawberries is $0.380 per pound and $0.180 per pound for brussels sprouts. The rates are based on gross volume or weight. The rate is $0.1452 for a bunch of daffodils.
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 10.10/hour For liquor servers (employees whose primary duties are as a server of food or drink or both and who, as a regular part of their employment, serve liquor directly to customers in licensed premises.)
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 90.80/day For live-in camp leaders.
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 113.50/day For live-in home support workers.
British Columbia 15-Sep-17 2,319.65/month For resident caretakers of a building of 61 or more residential suites. For an apartment building containing 9 to 60 residential suites the rate is $681.00 plus $27.29 per suite.
Manitoba 1-Oct-16 12.50/hour For licensed security guards.
Manitoba 1-Jan-17 - For employees in the industrial, commercial or institutional (ICI) sector of the construction industry. Rates are based on occupational classification. For instance, the hourly rate for a boilermaker journeyperson is $33.40 and $36.30 for a bricklayer journeyperson.
Manitoba 1-May-17 - For employees in the heavy construction industry. Rates are based on occupational classification (e.g. the rate for a mobile crane operator is $25.25 per hour).
New Brunswick 1-Jun-08 - Different minimum wage rates are set for employees engaged in government construction work (buildings, roads and bridges). Rates are based on occupational classification. For example, labourers are entitled to $12.63 per hour.
New Brunswick 1-Apr-12 440.00/week For counsellor and program staff who are employed at a residential summer camp by an employer that has notified the Director of employment standards in writing that it is a charitable organization or a not-for-profit organization.
New Brunswick 1-Apr-17 484.00/week For employees whose hours of work are unverifiable and who are not strictly remunerated by commission.
Nova Scotia 1-Apr-17 10.35/hour For inexperienced employees, i.e., a person who has not been employed for more than three months by any employer to do the work for which he/she is presently employed.
Nova Scotia 1-Apr-17 10.85/hour For employees employed in construction, property maintenance work and related activities.
Nova Scotia 1-Apr-17 10.85/hour For employees in a logging or forest operation (A monthly rate is set at $2,127.95 for employees who have no fixed work week or whose hours are unverifiable.)
Ontario 1-Oct-17 10.10/hour For employees who serve liquor in licensed establishments.
Ontario 1-Oct-17 10.90/hour Students under 18 employed up to 28 hours in a week, or during a school holiday
Ontario 1-Oct-17 12.80/hour For homeworkers. Rate based on 110% the general minimum wage rate.
Ontario 1-Oct-17 58.00/day For hunting and fishing guides working less than 5 hours in a day.
Ontario 1-Oct-17 116.00/day For hunting and fishing guides working 5 hours or more in a day.
Quebec 1-May-17 - For employees assigned mainly to non-mechanized operations relating to the picking of rasperberries or strawberries.  The rates are established on the basis of yield ($0.89/kg of strawberries, $3.33/kg of raspberries).
Quebec 1-May-17 9.45/hour For employees who usually receive gratuities.
Yukon 1-Apr-17 - For employees engaged in government construction work. Rates are based on occupational classification. For example, the hourly rate for a general labourer is $23.72.

Source: Minimum Wage Database. Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Young Workers and Specific Occupations., Last Visited November 2, 2017.

Cost of Living

The following table shows a comparison of average living expenses (quoted in Canadian Dollar currency) across four Canadian cities to give you a glimpse on how much you would need to live in Canada.   

Expense * Vancouver Toronto Winnipeg Regina
Apartment, 1BR in City Centre 1,813.44 1,696.26 933.53 945.42
Apartment, 1BR outside of City Centre 1,357.95 1,318.36 835.78 929.91
Basic utilities e.g. electricity, heating, water, garbage for an 85 sq.m. apartment 76.20 126.00 148.63 194.85
Internet, 60Mbps or more, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL 65.60 62.18 67.71 57.40
Transportation, Monthly Pass Regular Price 93.00 146.00 88.55 84.50
Gasoline, 1 liter 1.33 1.11 0.98 0.99
Regular Milk, 1 liter 2.39 2.06 1.58 1.62
White Rice, 1 kg. 4.29 3.34 4.07 4.18
Loaf of Fresh White Bread, 500g 3.19 2.63 2.02 2.74
Eggs, 1 dozen 3.70 2.71 3.42 3.37
Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless 14.86 13.10 11.77 13.02
Beef round, 1kg, 14.65 14.84 11.05 14.23
Potato, 1 kg. 2.15 2.02 2.91 2.56
Tomato, 1 kg. 3.49 3.15 3.72 2.80
Banana, 1kg. 1.66 1.65 2.04 1.83
Water, 1.5 liter bottle 2.54 2.17 2.05 2.42
Domestic Beer, .5 liter bottle 3.85 2.42 2.63 3.23
Meal, inexpensive restaurant 15.00 15.00 15.00 16.50
McMeal at McDonalds (or equivalent Combo Meal) 9.00 9.75 9.40 8.62
Cappuccino, regular 4.14 3.97 3.29 4.06
Cinema, International Release 13.50 14.00 12.50 12.50
Pair of Levi jeans or similar 72.82 65.77 52.33 65.00
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store e.g. Zara, H&M 47.21 43.51 49.06 41.00
Toyota Corolla 1.61 97kW Comfort or equivalent new car 18,620.83 21,800.46 23.875.17 22,670.33

 * All expenses are quoted in CAD as of Nov 2, 2017.  Source of data is 

Got a question? Let us know - we're here to help.

ICEF logoPIER logoANZCHAM logoBritish Council logo