In the second part of our three-part series, here are profiles of five people from diverse backgrounds and with varying durations of stay in Canada to help decide if the Canadian dream and struggle are for you. Also, advice from them for Indians looking to settle in Canada.
For Indians, Canada is a dream destination. Every year, lakhs of Indians look to migrate to the North American country because it promises better education, lifestyle, free healthcare and a social safety net. Also, Canada’s process of citizenship is easier, shorter and cheaper than any other European or North American country.
According to 2021 data, there are over 1.4 million people of Indian origin in Canada. And the number of Indians who became permanent residents of Canada rose by 260 per cent from 32,828 in 2013 to 118,095 in 2022, according to Canadian government data.
One of the routes taken by Indians is the students’ visa. This year, Canada is set to welcome 9 lakh international students. This is on top of the 5 lakh permanent residency (PR) it is granting in 2023. India is the biggest contributor when it comes to sending international students to Canada.
But is the Canadian dream worth all the struggle it entails? Here are five profiles of people from diverse backgrounds and with varying duration of time in Canada — from 20 years to 2 years and from a youngster who is struggling to find a job to people who have started their businesses — to help you see how life in the North American country is.
Read the first part of the series here: No house, no job: Canadian dream turning into nightmare for Indian students
‘Might have to look for a warehouse job’
Name: Vaibhav Gosai
Profession: Looking for job
How Many Years in Canada: 2 years
Approx annual pay: NA
Vaibhav Gosai’s story in Canada has been one of struggle. The 25-year-old from Vadodara in Gujarat is a BTech in computer science and moved to Canada in September 2021 on a student’s visa for post-graduate courses in business analytics and IT project management.
He worked as a superstore clerk for three months, as an IT support staffer on contract for a month and as a customer service representative for 11 months. For the last two months, Gosai has been looking for a job that aligns with his education, but has had no luck so far.
“It is very difficult to get a job in Canada. New grads are facing a hard time getting jobs with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of applicants for a single job opening. With a premium LinkedIn account, I also can see that at least 40 per cent of the people applying are over-qualified and over-experienced for the job,” says Gosai, who has a work visa now.
“I will have to take up a job at a warehouse if things remain so grim,” says Gosai, who says he has been living off his savings from the money he made while working in India. One can make anywhere between $15 to $20 an hour at those warehouses or production lines.
What added to Vaibhav Gosai’s troubles and experiences was an accident he met while crossing a road in January 2022. He suffered a fracture in the accident and his experience getting it treated was mixed.
All his medical expenses were taken care of under college insurance as well as the car insurance of the person who hit him. He says he didn’t need to pay a single penny from his pocket as everything was covered. This included a caretaker for cleaning, laundry and cooking as well as reimbursement for his income loss during the period of recovery.
However, he doesn’t have very favourable views of Canada’s healthcare system, which is government funded. “The hospital management is bad. The doctor only meets for 10 minutes and is always in a hurry. They hardly listen to patients and follow-up appointments are given after 2-3 months,” he says.
“My Canada dream isn’t so pleasant now. Inflation is at an all-time high. The rent is high. Groceries are costly. Too many immigrants are looking for any kind of job available,” says Gosai. “And there’s this tension between the governments,” he says about the recent diplomatic stand-off between Canada and India.
‘Lot of struggle in Canada, but don’t get disheartened’
Name: Chetan Garg
How Many Years in Canada: 4 years
Approx annual pay: $50,000
“I moved to Canada in search of a better lifestyle and quality of life because business opportunities earlier in India were not so great,” says Chatan Garg, who comes from a business family in Ludhiana. But the 22-year-old isn’t totally satisfied with the pace of his professional growth in Canada.
The 22-year-old who began his career in Canada with a diploma in accounting, dreams of becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and starting his own taxation firm.
Has his growth in Canada been on expected lines?
“So far, I am pretty much satisfied with the situation considering the condition of current immigrants and other people. I was expecting a bit better growth in this duration but it did not happen at the expected pace,” he says.
Recounting the initial hiccups, Garg says he found it difficult mixing with the locals because of cultural differences, but things got better as people are “very nice” and it is a “country of diversity”. “I faced difficulties with the education system as it is very different from India’s. An Indian immigrant like me will find the winter temperatures very hard to cope with, at least in the initial years,” says Garg, on the challenges he faced in Canada.
He says Canada scores more than India with its better education system and its quality of life. The Canadian government pays a lot of attention to the environment and the well being of its people. “Pollution is little here,” says Garg, who admits he misses his family and home-cooked food.
The 22-year-old based in Brampton says he is happy that he has become self-sufficient and independent and doesn’t need to seek any money from his family in India.
“If you are planning to settle in Canada, please do proper research before reaching Canada and don’t expect you will get a great job on the first day. There are a lot of struggles, but if you keep your guard up and don’t let small setbacks dishearten you, you can achieve anything,” advises Garg.
‘No traffic woes, crowds or air pollution in Canada’
Name: Abhishek Mishra
Profession: Software engineer
How Many Years in Canada: 5 years
Approx annual pay: $140,000
Abhishek Mishra was professionally well-settled in India and working as a Senior Design Engineer with an automotive company before he planned to switch to a life in Canada in 2018. He moved there to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and had to struggle soon after completing the course.
The economic situation was in the doldrums because of the Covid-19 pandemic and he found it difficult to get a job after he completed his MBA. But the Canadian government saw him through those difficult times.
“I did not have a job after my [MBA] degree, so I received around $20,000 from the government of Canada while I was searching for a job during the pandemic,” says Mishra, explaining how robust the social safety net is. He says Canada has unemployment benefits, pensions and other social services to support its citizens. With an MBA job difficult to come by, Mishra instead had to use his engineering work experience to get a well-paid job in Canada.
However, there were challenges. “I hate queues for anything, so, there are challenges related to wait times for certain medical procedures and access to health services. Additionally, the healthcare system faces strain due to an aging population,” says Mishra when asked about some of his struggles in Canada. Adapting to the harsh winter is a challenge, he adds.
At the same time, for him, Canada is a respite when it comes to the traffic rush and air pollution in India. “I did not come to Canada for salary or to buy a house. I came for my higher studies, for an MBA degree. I did not want to stay in Bangalore because of traffic and the crowds. I don’t have to face traffic or crowds anywhere here. Therefore, it brings peace to my life and I feel I am satisfied and happy,” he says.
He says landing the first job in Canada is a challenge as all recruiters seek Canadian experience. Then the variety of jobs, when compared to the US market, is limited in Canada. If you are “highly ambitious”, it is better to get enrolled in some university in the US, he suggests.
“Housing affordability is a significant concern in many Canadian cities, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto,” says Mishra, listing another current problem in Canada.
‘Have a luxury car, a better house than I dreamt of’
Name: Ashwani Aggarwal
Profession: Runs ad and media-sales company
How Many Years in Canada: 10 years
Approx annual pay: $100,000
Ashwani Aggarwal has been in Canada for the last 10 years and life there has been better than what he expected. He is from Chandigarh.
The Brampton-based businessman, who has been through struggles himself, says succeeding in Canada is not easy but hard work, honesty and skills help a lot. He says he finds Canada better than India when it comes to “opportunities, respecting human beings and their hard work”.
“I was the son of a government employee, living in a rented house, at the age of 35, though I was earning Rs 80,000, I couldn’t buy a small house for my family. It needed a huge amount of cash, and the registration is shown on paper at a much lower value of the property. Today, I have a luxury car, a far better house than I ever dreamt of. A happy family, peace and wealth,” says Aggarwal when asked what he had achieved in Canada that he couldn’t have had in India.
Canada, says Aggarwal, “was good, is good, and can be good for those who have skills but are not able to get better financial results in their own country.” He runs AM Consultants Inc, a Brampton-based advertising and media sales company.
“Canada is a land of love, peace and prosperity for me,” says Aggarwal, but adds that he misses his parents, extended family and his places of worship.
‘Do proper research to avoid getting exploited’
Name: Peeyush Gupta
Profession: Runs a retail store
How Many Years in Canada: 20 years
Approx annual pay: $100,000
For Peeyush Gupta, Canada has turned out to be what it is portrayed to be – a land of opportunities. Though like everyone else, he too had to struggle initially to settle in a foreign land.
“The Canadian experience has been great, with initial hiccups for the first five years. But after that, it just got better. North America is rightly said to be the Land of Opportunities,” says Gupta, who is from Chandigarh and shifted to Canada in 2003.
“Systems are much better here,” says Gupta, explaining what he found to be better in Canada than in India. Offices are very helpful in guiding and answering queries and officials try to help in new endeavors, he says.
Peeyush Gupta, who stays in Brampton in Ontario province, admits that he misses his friends and relatives, and the joy and fun that are aplenty in India.
The best thing, he says, is that there is “no shame or embarrassment attached to doing any kind of survival job” in Canada. “With hard and smart work, any person can easily become a self-employed and be on own feet.”
Being in Canada for 20 years and having seen the struggles, what would be his advice to people planning to immigrate to Canada?
Gupta suggests that people should move to Canada only after finishing their graduation (bachelor’s degree). “If married, come with a spouse and children. If employed or self-employed, be ready for doing survival jobs or being unemployed for a few months,” says Gupta.
He suggests that people do proper research about the job market, housing, lifestyle and the locality they plan to settle in beforehand so that they don’t get exploited. “Better hire a certified immigration consultant or lawyer then an unregulated agent or broker,” recommends Gupta.
(This is the second of a three-part weekly series on Indians in Canada)
Oct 3, 2023