It's Canada Time

When one of my ex-colleagues told me about her husband’s salary in a little town of Canada, I just couldn’t believe, what I’ve just heard. So, I was wondering, how much can you earn in the Canadian countryside? I started to search for information and found a video, where a “talent headhunter” talked about how hard is it to find labor force, but he succeeded to gather 70 resumes during a classic recruiting event, almost all applicants were fresh immigrants.

I wrote him a letter, and Tom Lusis answered all of my questions about salaries in the Canadian countryside and he also told about how can you find a job there. I believe, he is one of the best experts and he gave us all knowledge to start thinking about a new career in the Canadian countryside.

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Tom Lusis and I work for the County of Wellington’s Economic Development Department. I have a PhD. in Economic Geography and my research has focused on the labour market integration of immigrants. I have worked for academia, municipal governments, and non-government organizations, and am a registered immigration consultant. I also have a personal connection to immigration. My father’s family came to Canada after the Second World War from Latvia as displaced people. My mother migrated here from the Philippines in the late 1960s. I was raised in Toronto but now live and work in Wellington County.

Wellington County is located in Southwestern Ontario, approximately one hour west of Toronto. It consists of seven municipalities; the Township of Puslinch, the Township of Guelph/Eramosa, the Town of Erin, the Township of Centre Wellington, the Township Mapleton, the Township of Wellington North, and the Town of Minto. The municipalities range in size between 7,000 and 26,000 people, and we have four main sectors of
economic activity; agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and creative class industries.

Who do you want in Wellington? Which is the most sought after profession in your location?

Right now there are many openings in advanced manufacturing, as employers need workers in production facilities. Our hospitality sector needs cooks, chefs and restaurant staff. There are also professional positions in management and human resources, and an increasing demand for skilled trades such as carpenters, machinists, and mechanics. Finally, some of our towns are seeing a turnover in local businesses as growing numbers of employers are approaching retirement age. As a result, there are great prospects for entrepreneurs to establish or purchase a business.

How much can the immigrants earn in the Canadian countryside? I know it is hard to generalize but some salary ideas are most welcome and the most important, is it enough for the cost of living in your city?

Salaries vary based on employment. Entry level positions in manufacturing typically pay between $14.00-16.00 per hour, and the skilled trades range between $18.00 – 35.00 per hour. Wages in professional sectors depend on field and position. The best way to gauge professional salaries is to visit on-line jobs boards. The job postings should list the salary, the experience needed to apply, and any additional benefits provided.

The cost of living in Wellington County differs according to the municipality. Areas closer to the Greater Toronto will be more expensive. Another variance is the availability of rental housing. Rental opportunities are more common in larger municipalities since they have more diverse housing markets. Our Economic Development website has information about both the cost of housing and the rental markets.

How is the process? I mean, recent immigrants without work permit can apply as well? If yes, how? If not, what should they do? If yes, what happens? How long does it take and what kind of permits they can get?

People can immigrate to Canada by qualifying for either Federal or Provincial immigration programs. A successful application will depend on your education, work experience, age, health, English language proficiency and financial resources. Visit the Government of Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship website to determine which program suits your goals. The website also has an on-line tool to determine if you meet the requirements for a successful immigration application.

If someone qualifies to immigrate as a worker and enters the Express Entry pool of applicants, their application will be processed within approximately six months from the time of a complete submission. But timelines vary depending on immigration programs. Some programs, such as the Family Class, have much longer processing periods which could be well over a year.

In order to be legally employed in Canada you need a valid work permit. If you are caught working without a permit you can lose their immigration status and will have to leave the county.

How should they prepare to move to Canada?

There are several steps to take before immigrating to Canada. First is to research the requirements to work in your profession. Many assume a successful immigration application means one can work in their professional fields in Canada. This is a mistake. Immigrants often need additional certification or must upgrade their credentials. This process takes time and money. Before you come to Canada you need a clear idea of the steps required work in your professional field and plan accordingly.

The second step is practice speaking English. A lack of language proficiency is perhaps the most common barrier facing immigrants in Canada. Newcomers need to be as comfortable with the language as possible. Many immigrants are versed in the technical English related to their professions but have difficulty in regular conversations. Having technical language skills are therefore not enough. See if there are English conversation classes that you can take before coming to Canada. If not, make sure you take some when you arrive as language skills are a key factor in finding a job here.

The third step would be to explore how the culture of work differs in Canada from your home country. Use on-line resources to learn about how looking for a job, relationships with supervisors, workplace etiquette, networking, etc. may be very different in Canada from what you are used to. This information is very important. It can help you; get a job in Canada, learn the “soft skills” which employers are looking for, and see the cultural nuances of the Canadian workplace which will improve your chances of retaining a job once you find one.

The fourth step is to search for the settlement services in the area you will be living. In the County of Wellington, for instance, there are settlement workers who can help answer questions and deal with challenges in the areas of housing, employment, interpretation and translation, healthcare, immigration and citizenship, completion of government forms, accessing social services and more. Many newcomers are unaware of these services and instead, rely on their friends or family members for support. Instead, immigrants should use both professional services and family/friend networks to help them settle.

Lastly, begin to mentally prepare for your journey. Immigration to Canada means starting again. You will need to adjust to a new climate, a new culture, new everything. The transition period can be very difficult, especially those who remain “rooted” in their home countries. The most successful immigrants are those who are ready to adapt. This makes them more resilient to the challenges they face when establishing themselves in a new country.

What is happening in the job market of Canada? Why is it worthy to take a closer look at the smaller towns and communities not only searching job in the major cities?

The Canadian labour market is undergoing a transition. “Baby-boomers” (people born between 1946-1964) are retiring and “Millennials” (people born between 1977-1994) are now the largest age cohort entering the economy. Immigration is also becoming increasingly important for the Canadian economy. Historically, it has been a way to fill labour market gaps and enhance economic growth. Immigration now helps offset demographic trends of a retiring workforce and low birth rates among the domestic population.

There are many reasons why immigrants should consider smaller communities. Generally speaking, the cost of living is lower than larger urban centers while the quality of life can be exceptional. For example, in Wellington County, you can find organic foods, craft breweries, easy access to nature and historic sites, and world-class educational institutions. Traffic jams are the exception rather than the rule, the pace of life is relaxed, and it is a great place to raise a family. When compared to the congestion, high stress, and expenses associated with living in Toronto, I believe smaller communities are much more attractive.

It can be hard for newcomers to find work in their professional fields in smaller communities. This is due to economies of scale and general barriers in the labour market. But it is important to note that newcomers can experience this regardless of where they settle. Toronto is filled with immigrants unable to work in their professions. If you consider this reality I think the factors unrelated to work, such as cost of living and quality of life, become even more important when deciding where to settle in Canada.

Where should they search information and jobs?

To get information about immigration to Canada, people should visit the Immigration and Citizenship Canada website. For more details about settling in Ontario as well as employment related information the “” website run by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is a very good resource.

For more information about the County of Wellington, you can visit our website. For details about employment or investing in our region please check the Economic Development website by clicking on the “business” tab on the County of Wellington homepage. There you will find a job board which posts employment opportunities, as well as more information about our Talent Attraction initiative.