On July 1, 1867, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia formed a confederation. The British North America Act (BNA) officially declared Canada a country. We celebrate Canada's national day on July 1st as Canada Day. In 1965, we adopted the red and white flag with the maple leaf as our official flag.
Canada is the second largest country in the world with 10 million square kilometers of landmass. The country has a population of approximately 30 million people -- only one-tenth the population of the United States. Three oceans border our vast country: the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic. Due to Canada's size, it is made up of many different geographical areas and regions. We divide these into the following: the Atlantic Region, Central Canada, the Prairie Provinces, the West Coast and the North. Politically we have divided the country into 10 provinces and 3 territories, each possessing its own capital. The national capital of Canada is Ottawa.
Canada is one the leading G-7 Nations. It is a highly developed country with excellent working conditions, an outstanding education system, a very high standard of living, and a health care system ranked one of the best in the world.
Canada is a country composed of immigrants from practically every country in the world. Canada's success is largely due to the contributions made by these immigrants. Each year, Canada welcomes more than 250,000 new immigrants. The diversified backgrounds and cultures are what make Canada unique. Multiculturalism is promoted by both the federal and provincial governments to help maintain this unique "melting pot".
Regardless of where you came from, once you are a landed immigrant (permanent resident), you have all the rights of a Canadian citizen. These rights are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Should you wish to become a citizen, you can do so after you have lived in Canada for three years. As a Canadian citizen, you can apply for a Canadian passport and you are eligible to vote.
Canada is an independent constitutional monarchy and has three tiers of government: federal, provincial, and municipal.
England's Queen Elizabeth II is still Canada's head of state, and until 1982 Canada could not make any changes to its constitution without the approval of the British government. Then in 1982, the Constitution Act came into effect, which allowed Canada to make constitutional changes without approval from the British government. We made the Charter of Rights and Freedoms part of the Constitution in 1982. The Official language Act protects English and French, the two official languages in Canada.
The political party with the most elected members forms the federal government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The party with a second largest number of elected members becomes official opposition, and its role is to offer constructive criticism to the government.
The four main political parties are:
The Liberal Party
The Conservative Party
The New Democratic Party
The federal government is based in the capital city of Ottawa.
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. These include:
|Provinces: 1. Newfoundland and Labrador
2. Nova Scotia
3. New Brunswick
4. Prince Edward Island
10. British Columbia
|Territories: 1. Yukon
3. Northwest Territories
The violent crime rate in Canada is among the lowest in the world, and continues to steadily decline, year after year.
As a citizen or a permanent resident, you have equal access to the justice system. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees fundamental freedoms, legal rights and equality under the law to every resident.
Canada has one of the world's best health care systems. Every citizen and permanent resident is covered by the insurance plan of the province in which he or she resides. The health plan is funded by tax measures and provides one of the world's best-quality essential health services, including doctor's fees, hospital charges and, in many cases, prescription drugs.
Canada offers free primary and secondary education and subsidized post-secondary studies. Every child must attend school until the age of 16-17 years of age. Ninety-five percent of Canada's children go to the public schools, which are free. Students are assigned to a public school according to where they live. The education system is funded primarily by the provinces. And Canada spends more on education than any other industrialized nation on the planet.
Canada is a welfare state. This means that the government takes care of its citizen's basic social services. These services are funded by taxes collected by the various levels of government.
Some of these social services include:
|1.||Child Tax Benefit: The Federal government makes a monthly payment for the well being of Canada's children. This payment is remitted to the parent of the child (generally to the mother) on the child's behalf. The amount of child tax benefit is according to the family income.|
|2.||Social Assistance/ Welfare: Commonly known as "welfare", Social Assistance payments are meant to cover the people who are not entitled to other benefits to pay for food, shelter, clothing, prescription drugs etc.|
|4.||Pension Plans -- Old Age Security|
|Canada's unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1976, with hundreds of thousands of new jobs created each year.|
|Canada has the lowest taxes in the corporate sector among all G-8 countries.|
|Canada provides unlimited opportunities for development in the natural resources, manufacturing, construction, import/export, commerce, high-tech and service industries.|
|Canada has easy access to the markets of the United States and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).|
Due to its low population growth rate and abundance of available resources, Canada encourages skilled workers and business people from all over the world to make Canada their homeland. Each year, Canada accepts between 200,000 and 250,000 new immigrants.
Immigrants to Canada become eligible for Canadian citizenship within three years of arrival in Canada with landed immigrant or permanent resident status.
Canada encourages its immigrants to retain their unique cultures. Nowhere else is there such a diversity of cultures existing together in a highly tolerant and peaceful society.