The Dark Side of Canada

Things that don’t normally come up when talking about Canada, but you will likely encounter this on a daily basis here
Things that don’t normally come up when talking about Canada, but you will likely encounter this on a daily basis here
Written By
MTC Media inc
Published on
January 9, 2024

We will break down 8 things that may shock, surprise, disgust or disappoint you, and we will also attempt to understand why that’s actually the case.

Homeless and mentally ill people 

Canada is a tolerant and liberal country, and that also means that it’s tolerant and liberal towards humans from all walks of life. Homeless people and drug addicts are also people, and they are, in fact, protected from discrimination in Canada by law. 

Canada spends more than two billion Canadian dollars every year to fund social services aimed at helping the country's homeless population. This year’s number has doubled! Homeless people get social aid and have the right to shelter and food. There are nearly 200,000 government and non-profit organizations around Canada that address the problem of homelessness. 

Canada has gone as far as giving drug addicts their daily dose of drugs. They do that to control and address the opioid addiction crisis. It is better for everyone if drug addicts have a safe and controlled space to do their thing, instead of letting them wander the streets and committing crimes just so that they can get their hands on the next doze.

As a result, you will see a lot of homeless and funky people on the streets of major cities in Canada, they mostly flock downtown to beg for pennies, so it’s not uncommon for each city to have a “sketchy neighbourhood”, where you have a whole settlement of homeless folks. In colder cities, this issue is less apparent than in warmer cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

Silent Racism

This topic doesn’t get talked much about, given how proud Canada is of its multiculturalism. Every fourth person in Canada is an immigrant, there are many areas and neighbourhoods in Canada that are predominantly non-white. 

According to Census Canada, the Black population makes less annual income than other non-visible minorities.

Hate crimes are also more likely to be committed against Black, Arab and then Asian populations. 

And besides numbers, silent racism is silent for a reason. Unlike the US, Canada is subtle about it, except for Quebec. For instance, the province of Quebec openly discriminates against the Muslim population by banning hijabs from employees in government and teaching jobs. The Quebec officials have made numerous racist remarks in the past - and the worst part is - the federal government lets them get away with that. That’s silent racism. 

If you’re not yet convinced, pick any bank. RBC, for example, one of the largest banks in Canada. Let’s open up their leadership page - all white people. Not a single non-Caucasian last name. How about that as silent racism?

Last but not least, Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples deserves special attention - there is some really dark history around how Indigenous people, especially kids, have been treated and are arguably still being treated today. That dark history is something Canada will always be apologizing for.

Your Health is In your Own Hands

If you’re moving to Canada, make sure you’ve done all your medical checks, and tests and stock up on your go-to medication. Because once you get to Canada, it will take a while before you get to see a doctor. 

Medicare services in Canada are restricted by the government and provincial budgets. In other words, Canada is just not producing enough doctors to be able to serve its growing population and some of the doctors are simply choosing to practice medicine elsewhere. 

Depending on the city and province you’re from, it might take a while for you to find a family doctor. All older doctors’ practice is already full and it’s nearly impossible to get an experienced family doctor in Canada if you are a newcomer unless you get lucky.

Once you get a doctor, it actually takes some convincing to get the doctor to give you a referral to a specialist or an advanced medical test. Specialist and medical equipment supply is limited by budgets, and everyone is simply overworked, so unless you can convince your doctor that what you’re experiencing needs to be addressed and sounds important to your doctor, they might just end up sending you home by saying to take Advil and drink more water.

If you want to see for yourself, some provinces have waiting times published and constantly updated on official websites. Ontario Health, for instance, lets you see medical imaging and surgery times. Getting an MRI, for instance, can make you wait for up to 162 days if your doctor doesn’t think your issue is life-threatening.

Outdated technologies

If you’re coming from Asia, Europe or the US, you will likely notice a technology gap here in Canada. 

The large territory and low population with poor infrastructure certainly contribute to the case and large tech companies like Amazon have noted that Canadians are slow to work with.

Unfortunately, the places where Canada’s adoption of technology lags the most are the most important sectors of the economy and society.

Take healthcare as an example. In Canada, most people can’t even communicate with their family doctor’s office by email or a secure website. Whereas, In Sweden, for instance, more than 90 percent of doctors offer online communication. How hard can it be?

Take another critical sector - finance. Canadian strict regulations limit the entrance of new financial products that make it easier to send money, spend money and invest your money. The power of finance in Canada is locked by just 5 banks that hold all the keys to how we move and manage money in this country. They’re not incentivized to innovate much because they simply don’t need to compete with anyone - they’ll have clients either way.

Telecom is another example - affordable unlimited home internet didn’t exist in Canada until just about a decade ago, and unlimited mobile data is just something Canadians are starting to adopt now, but it’s still overpriced — all while Europe has enjoyed fast and cheap data plans for almost a decade.

Taxes are on you

Firstly, all prices you will ever see in Canada are always before tax. So each time you’re shopping around - you have to do mental math and add between 10-15% on top of your total bill.

Secondly, your annual income and hourly wages are also before-tax terms. For example, if your employer pays you 100,000 dollars annually or 50$ per hour, you will actually never see 100,000 dollars in your bank account within any given year. This is because your employer is required to deduct your tax at the source, so instead of making 100,000, you actually end up making close to 65 - 75 thousand dollars depending on which province you’re in.

It also costs more to be rich and make a big salary in Canada. In Ontario, for instance, if you are making more than 220 thousand dollars per year, your tax will eat up to 50 percent of your salary.

You should also be careful working several jobs in Canada because your employers are withdrawing the tax mostly based on the amount they’re paying you, which means you might end up underpaying tax and get hit with a big tax bill at the end of the year.

Lastly, you have to file your own tax report in Canada, each person is responsible for collecting all the documents necessary and reporting their income and tax paid throughout the year by April 30 each year. And if you’re late submitting your tax report or paying your tax due, the penalties you pay are pretty big.

You need Canadian experience

Canadian employers are hesitant to hire newcomers without Canadian work experience. 

Many newcomers struggle to find a job for many reasons - they can’t articulate their background, their English is not that strong, or they don’t use the Canadian resume format.

Some Canadian professions are also licensed, which means you need to pass some courses and professional evaluations in order to even be able to get a job in fields like engineering, medicine, finance, education and many skilled trades.

Lastly, Canadians are risk-averse. Their hiring process can be long, and many want to hire someone who looks familiar, speaks familiar and has worked at companies with familiar cultures. Some may call it discrimination, but most Canadians are just trying to protect themselves - because the cost of hiring and firing in Canada is very high. It costs at least half of the candidate’s salary to hire a new worker, and the process of firing someone can last for months.

What can you do? Volunteer, network and make sure you invest in building a stellar Canadian resume.

Housing crisis

There is a huge housing crisis in Canada, we know that but the quality of the housing is not that great either. Building homes in Canada is expensive, in part due to a lack of infrastructure, high immigration, expensive labour and historically low-interest rates. So builders cut corners and accelerate construction any way they can.

Depending on where you come from, you might have to lower your apartment quality expectations in Canada. It is very common for apartments to have very thin carton walls and very poor sound isolation between apartments. 

If you are renting a home in an older building, insulation will become a real problem once winter hits and your heating bill will be through the roof. And don’t get us started on the sizes and the actual practicality of apartment layout design - Toronto is famous for its million-dollar shoeboxes.

Overall, there are just not enough homes being built and way too many immigrants are coming to Canada every year - so the low housing supply causes bidding wars, where the crappiest houses end up being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars!

We hope those points will not discourage you from moving to Canada and that the information above was helpful to you. Make sure to check out our other articles to learn more about the positive sides of immigration. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours!

Career & Growth Tips
No spam. Just the latest news, career tips, job postings, and exclusive research in your inbox every week.

Improve your job search skills

Book a 1-on-1 consultation to help you improve your resume & LinkedIn profile, navigate the Canadian job market and prepare for an interview.

Enroll in a job search course

Receive 8 emails in 4 weeks tailored to help you improve every step of your job search journey and help you land your next job faster.

Watch this video on YouTube

The Dark Side of Canada

Make That Change is made by immigrants for immigrants.
We create content about career, life, adaptation and education in Canada.