Thanks to blogger Suzanne Ma for this opinion piece.
Originally posted at: www.suzannema.com
Why move to Canada?
After nearly two years living in Hong Kong and China, I have come back to Canada. Why? I told my husband I wanted to come “home.”
I talked about clean air, the convenience of Canada’s healthcare system, social security, a good education system (for the little ones, should they arrive in the coming years), a steady, peaceful life. I talked about fitting in, about multiculturalism, about feeling comfortable in your own skin. These are all the things a Canadian life offers us.
My husband, a Dutch citizen with a Master’s degree, managed to find a job pretty quickly. The company was willing to sponsor, but as it turned out, the worker’s visa would take longer to process than the permanent residency application already underway — something we started after we were married last August. So after getting his residency in March, we started making plans to move to Vancouver.
It’s expensive to live here. Earlier this year, a survey found that Vancouver was the most expensive city in North America, even more expensive than New York and L.A. Though, there are now signs that the housing market is starting to slow.
Marc called his parents in the Netherlands over the weekend and his mother asked: “So do you like it better there or in Hong Kong?” Marc said it was too early to tell.
We compare Canada to Hong Kong all the time. We compare the salaries (competitive) we compare the cost of eating out (a win for HK), we compare the transportation network (a win for HK), we compare the food (still debating), we compare the scenery (tropics vs. snow-capped mountains?). We cringe at the taxes we will have to pay here in Canada, compared to the very low taxes in Hong Kong. We tell ourselves that social security comes at a cost, and remember the wise Vulcan proverb that tells us the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
The fact is, as a skilled immigrant, my husband can make and save a lot more money if we were living in Asia.
A recent Globe and Mail article quotes a Chinese immigrant to Canada who has chosen to return to Shanghai after graduating from a Toronto university. “In Canada, you have a good standard of living, but you can’t make big money,” the 29-year-old Chinese woman told the paper.
So many skilled and educated immigrants are seeking financial opportunities elsewhere. It’s changing the makeup of Canada’s immigrant population. And we are constantly asking ourselves: is clean air, a good education system and social security more important than the chance to “make big money” elsewhere?
The immigrant population is now further influenced by a shift in Canada’s immigration policy — from favouring skilled immigrant workers to preference for those who have money to invest.
The flood of wealthy Chinese immigrants to Canada can be seen across the country, not just in large cities like Toronto and Vancouver (where wealthy Chinese buyers are blamed for driving up real estate), but in places you might not expect, like Prince Edward Island (home of the Anne of Green Gables story). China has been the chief source of immigration to P.E.I. for the past five years, with nearly 2,400 newcomers arriving between 2006 and 2009 alone, according to the province’s Population Secretariat. During that time, some Chinese immigrants had their visa application expedited through a provincial nominee program by proving they were willing and capable of investing at least $200,000 in a P.E.I business, according to a story by the National Post in 2011. The program has since undergone some changes, including a cap on the number of nominees per year.
The day my husband received his permanent residency, he put on a Hudson’s Bay mitt and took some photos in our favourite park.
Foreign investment is important, but so is foreign talent. I’ll ask my husband again in a few months time about our decision to move to Canada. And I’ll be sure to blog his response.