Four Reasons I Don’t Want to Go Home

Four Reasons I Don’t Want to Go Home

I’ve talked before about my immigration to Canada. The question I get most often, especially when visiting friends and family, is; “Do you plan to come back?” In many ways, this topic is a loaded one. I appreciate that people miss me and want to see me more often. It would be nice to live closer to the bulk of my friends and family. On the other hand, I usually don’t feel comfortable discussing the real reasons my answer to this question is no. And in light of the current political climate, maybe this isn’t the best time to bring it up.

Or maybe now is exactly the time to talk about why I’m so happy in Canada.

1. The Cost and Logistics of Immigrating to Another Country
This has long been my go-to answer for this question. Gaining my Canadian citizenship took five years. For the first three years I was unable to work because I couldn’t find an employer willing to help me get a work visa. Those three years taught me that you can call Immigration three times in quick succession and every person you talk to will give you a different answer to the same question. Once you have permanent residence, it’s a numbers game; spend a certain number of days in Canada within the year limit and you’re welcome to become a citizen. I’m oversimplifying, but that’s essentially the process.

It’s expensive. Every time you want to extend your stay prior to gaining permanent residence, you have to pay a fee. Usually that fee is a couple hundred dollars. While I was applying for my permanent residence, we had to pay that fee every six months to a year. When we spent a year in England, it was a couple hundred dollars each for two years – but if we had wanted to stay longer, we would have had to leave the country to re-apply for a different Visa. In addition to that, my permanent residence application cost me a little over a thousand dollars at the time of submission and I seem to remember my citizenship paperwork was fairly expensive to submit as well.

It took about nine months after I submitted my application to Canadian Immigration to receive my permanent residence. In the US, people wait years to receive their green cards. What I know of the US immigration process is so complex and mind-boggling, I’m not sure I ever even want to look at it. The stories I’ve heard may be exaggerated, but even if it was as simple and straight-forward as the Canadian process, it would still be both expensive and stressful. One thing I do NOT want to re-live is the stress of waiting to be told that one of us has to leave the country (which actually happened to me once).

But for all the stress and expense, there was still a time we discussed the possibility of getting my husband a green card, in case we ever did want to move to the states. That’s where the other reasons come in.

2. Canada Offers Greater Opportunities and Stability
My husband is a teacher. I don’t think I need to describe the state of education in the US, nor the plight of its mistreated teachers. There are tons of articles out there already. US teachers spend most of their time endlessly dodging the ‘weeding’ process meant to discard the ‘bad’ or ‘useless’ teachers (something which could really be fixed with a better training program). Someone recently commented to me that my husband should move to their area because their teachers are ‘overpaid for doing nothing.’ Yikes! Why would he want to work for a system that displays nothing but total disrespect for his work? Canada’s education system isn’t perfect; there are plenty of teachers fighting for better wages and working conditions, but the updates to the curriculum are pretty solid.

My husband isn’t the only one with better options here in Canada. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, fed a steady diet of the great American dream. But if I had stayed in America, I would have had a difficult time attending university. I began my post-secondary education around the time the recession was starting to affect people’s ability to get student loans. Not to mention the nightmare I probably would have had afterward when I tried to pay back my mountains of student loans. But I lived in Ontario by that time, and Ontario had a low-interest government loan it offered to all residents (I didn’t even have to be a citizen). And three years of that loan put me through college and into a decent paying job in a field that I actually somewhat enjoyed.

We’ve also benefited from Canada’s stricter banking regulations, which keep our banks stable, and the booming housing market across the country. Programs like CMHC will insure your mortgage if you’re unable to pay a large percentage downpayment, meaning that young people like us can still purchase homes without being considered ‘high risk,’ or having to break ourselves in the exchange.

But we’ve still only scratched the surface.

3. Canada Understands the Concept of Social Responsibility
Many of my friends are openly jealous about the fact that I benefit from Canada’s public healthcare system – and I can’t blame them after hearing the sums of their monthly premiums. I have been benefiting from Canada’s public healthcare system since I gained permanent resident status. And let me tell you; it still freaks me the hell out that I can walk into my doctor’s office, get whatever taken care of, and then walk out without paying. I bet the first couple people I interacted with at walk-in clinics thought I had totally lost my mind. I looked at them as if they were hydras when they handed my health card back to me and didn’t ask for money. There’s a kind of relief that comes from knowing that if one of us gets hurt or sick, it’s probably not going to break us to get medical care.

But since I’ve lived in Canada, I have learned that public health care is SO MUCH MORE than just being able to see a doctor for a reasonable price. It’s also about education. It’s also about having public health nurses visit schools when necessary. It’s about being able to get vaccinations without having to pay an arm and a leg. It’s about following up with new mothers to make sure that they’re getting the care and support they need, to answer their questions and make sure they know where to go if they need something. Public health is as much about prevention as it is about treatment.

But public health is only the beginning of social responsibility. There have been discussions about guaranteed basic income. The idea is that every household would be provided a certain income each year by the government. This would allow them to phase out programs like welfare and unemployment because one program would cover many needs. It would also allow people who rely on social assistance programs to get back on their feet without the risk of losing the safety net that keeps them afloat. The more a family makes, the less they need from the government; but the rug would not be pulled from beneath their feet full-stop. This program would ensure a basic standard of living for every Canadian citizen – sounds pretty great to me.

4. The Political Climate
Since the recent US election, my husband and I have been discussing politics more often than usual. One intersting topic that crops up a lot is the fact that liberals in the US are quite conservative by Canadian standards. This topic was discussed by much of the world during the primaries when Bernie Sanders was considered a ‘radical’ candidate. But in Canada and much of Europe, such politics are fairly mainstream.

It’s funny, when I first moved to Canada, there was much talk about a two-tiered healthcare system which would allow patients to skip long lines by paying for private insurance. Canada’s healthcare system is far from perfect, after all, and it could do with some improvements. But as soon as America started debating Obamacare, it killed the two-tiered healthcare debate in Canada because people realized how insidious private insurance companies can be.

This is the part of the blog post where I could talk about gun control laws, and the fact that Canada has them, but I’ll spare you. The fact is, if Americans ever really did cross the border in droves, Canada could expect a drastic shift in politics and they have plenty of reason to want to avoid that. Even Canada’s conservative party has accepted the nation’s rulings on gay marriage and abortion rights; they don’t want either on future agendas.

It was difficult for me to visit my home state in October and see the sheer number of Trump signs in the poor neighborhoods. America is in desperate need of change. But not only are most politicians dramatically out of touch with the needs of the average American, many Americans are still opposed to the changes which would improve their situations.

They say that you should travel, so that when you return, you can see your home with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, my experience hasn’t painted my home in the best light.

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