I need some info on life in Canada

  1. Hi anyone out there, first time I have used this kind of thing so bear with me! I am about to have an interview for a Pediatric Oncology position (RN) in Vancouver. I am a little apprehensive as I don't have a clue what sort of questions or issues I may be asked about, anyone have any idea what are the buzz words at the moment.

    I also would like an idea about the cost of living in Vancouver, could I have a reasonable standard of living on an RN's salary. I also would be bringing my family which consists of hubbie and 20 month old son, what is child care like/cost? Do the hospitals provide any day care?

    As you can see lots of things to consider but I really feel that I would love Canada, and I hear Vancouver is very similar to Scotland, but I bet you don't get as much rain as us!!!

    Hope someone can help to calm my nerves a little.
  2. Visit Yvonne Kalla profile page

    About Yvonne Kalla

    Joined: Sep '01; Posts: 11
    Pediatric Nurse


  3. by   fergus51
    Oh they do get a lot of rain! But Vancouver is more like Hong Kong or Calcutta than Edinburgh (according to stats less than 50% of people speak English as a first language)! I think they say that Victoria is more British.

    What hospital are you interviewing at? I am assuming it's BC Childrens which handles all the more complex cases for the entire province. I live about 4 hours from Vancouver. Nurses salaries are going to be going up to a maximum of 32$ an hour, but it takes 9 years to get to that. I thin new grads are starting at about 23$. If your husband will be working too I am sure you'll be fine. Cost of living is higher than anywhere else in the province, but nurses can support themselves. A friend of mine has a 2 bedroom app't for 850$ a month, I've seen houses for 1500-2000$ (renting of course). As for childcare, I have no idea. I think StPaul's has onsite childcare, but I am not sure. You might get more information from www.canadianrn.com , www.bcnu.bc.ca or www.rnabc.bc.ca . There might be links to employers to see what sort of bonuses they offer. Good luck
  4. by   Yvonne Kalla
    Hi Fergus,

    You've got a good Scottish name, any connections? Thanks for the info, I am indeed being interviewed for BC Women and Childrens, they are on a recruitment drive in Scotland next week. You didn't mention any current nursing issues I should be aware of, any ideas? Forewarned is forearmed! I have nearly 16 years experience in Paeds so I hope I would qualify for the higher rates of pay, but I'll have to wait and see.

    Great to hear from you.
  5. by   fergus51
    Hey Yvonne!
    My last name is Fergusson, my grampa is Scottish and quite proud of it. I think his town was Kilkerran or something.

    As for issues, well...the biggest one of late is the fact that we voted 96% to reject a contract and the provincial gov't took away our right to strike and imposed the contract on us. I know quite a few nurses who are leaving for greener pastures in the US (including me in year and a half or so). The nursing shortage is hitting us hard (partly because of all the nurses leaving for better places) so there is a lot of OT available. I don't know what the situation is in a specialized field like yours, but BC Womens and Childrens is the cream of the crop out here, so I doubt they've been hit as hard by the current shortage.

    There is also a lot of debate going on about instituting some levels of private care. We Canadians tend to be VERY protective of our health care system, but as waitlists have grown and the number of health care professionals has gotten smaller, privatization has been suggested. I am terrified we will soon have a 2 tiered system similar to the US. I understand you have private and public hospitals in the UK don't you?

    I don't know what you'll make. I don't know if they count experience outside BC in the pay scale. I would hope so, though. I hope you have a good interview!
  6. by   Yvonne Kalla
    hi Fergus

    Thanks for the reply, I doubt I'll be asked or informed about these kinds of issues!!! Am I leaving one set of problems for another? I am stuck in a dead end job here because there are only three childrens hospitals covering the whole of Scotland, and people are in their jobs for life, so no promotion prospects for at least 20 years!!! I am feeling stagnent, and felt that there would be much more opportunities both in promotion and further education in BC.

    I am quite appalled at the thought that your rights can be taken from you, but to be honest you guys are much more proactive than us Brits, only a very small proportion of nurses here would actually consider going out on strike, needless to say our poor salaries are a reflection of this. Police and teachers got a huge 12% hike in pay and we got a measly 3% over 2 years!! My current salary is 19,000 and not going anywhere.

    I considered USA before but I don't like the rising crime rate and gun laws, would I be right in thinking things are different in Canada?
  7. by   fergus51
    Hey Yvonne,
    Vancouver is considered high crime rate as far as BC goes, but I've been told by my father the ex-cop that it is still MUCH lower than in an American city of similar size. I don't worry about it too much in Vancouver.

    Our raise was good for one contract (22% over 3 years), but when you take into account the fact that we haven't had a real raise in 10 years...Nurses here are finally starting to get more proactive. There were several illegal walkouts and I know some nurses will be voting with their feet and going to the US. A new grad ther can make more money in the US than a nurse with years of experience here. But, Canadian nurses do make more than you are after 19 years, so the salary should be a plus here (I think the top salary without OT works out to about 60 000$ CND, so....what 30 000 pounds or so?). I heard from a friend that Canada pays better than UK, but the US pays better than Canada.

    I am sure with our aging workforce there will be a lot of opportunity for you here. The only thing is, jobs are generally given by seniority and you will be starting at the bottom. I don't think this will be a real problem for you though, because your field is so specialized you won't be competing for jobs with that many nurses. Also, BCIT is in Vancouver and offers a lot of nursing education courses and I think UBC offers a Masters (which is becoming necessary to work in administratoin) so there is a lot of opportunity for advancing your education. I have also been told that nurses here practice more independantly than in th UK, but again, I can't say anything about pediatric oncology. A friend of mine worked in London and said the nurses there were not doing a lot of the things they do here. (Like removing chest tubes, things like that).

    I am sure this will be a real adventure for yuo however it works out. How old are your kids? Are they looking forward to this or as terrified as I would be if I were them? The really neat thing about Vancouver is they actually have Chinese Immersion at one school. I went through French Immersion and found it completely useless, but Chinese would be SO useful in Vancouver!
  8. by   Yvonne Kalla
    hi Fergus

    Chinese immersion huh? Sounds painful!!! what does it entail? My son is only 20 months old so I hope the transition for him will not be a problem. My problem will be having to put him in daycare, any idea about cost? Could you ask around for me? I am very lucky here that I have plenty of family only too willing to babysit for me.... they waited a long time for this little fella, and he is the only baby in the family now, so needless to say, spoiled rotten!

    I am not particularly worried about moving as I have only really been in Scotland for the last two years, prior to that I was in London and the Middle East.

    I did a cost of living comparison on the net and it was estimated that I would need $35000 Canadian to have the same standard of living as I have now, so if salaries are hitting $50,000+ I should be ok. The things that are expensive here aren't quite so bad there I don't think eg cars, petrol, food. In London properties are asking silly money, for a one bedroomed apartment in an OK area, about 45 mins travelling from the centre, you are looking at 80.000+, with travelling expences on top, and childcare subsidised by the hospital (for which there is a 2 year waiting list!) 500, a month, that doesn't leave much to live on, hence the reason I am now back in Scotland.

    My other option was to go back to the Middle East, but with all the troubles at the moment, it is looking a bit risky to go that part of the world. Mind you, I was there during the Gulf War, but I think once you have kids your priorities change. I now want a long term move where I can be happy and have a reasonable lifestyle, and I have heard only good things about Canada, everybody is really pushing me to make the move.

    Are you planning to move to US with all the family? What do they think about that, no doubt it is a much harder decision to make if your kids are older and settled in school etc.

    Nice to talk.
  9. by   fergus51
    Hey Yvonne,
    Well, my only dependent is my Chihuahua, and she seems pretty adaptable to moving. I am in my 20s and single. I actually worked in the States right after I graduated because I couldn't find work here and I have American citizenship. I am really upset about this last contract and other workplace conditions. One thing that really bugs me is that if I want to work in a different specialty area they want me to get certified in it which means paying a few thousand for a year of part time courses. The only on the job training they are offering at my hospital right now is OR and I HATE that area. Also I plan on eventually getting my Masters in Midwifery which isn't available here in BC or the rest of Canada for that matter (there is a midwifery program here, but it is a Bachelor's level and they don't want nurses).

    Chinese Immersion is when they stick kids in a class and they only speak Chinese for the first little while. I took French Immersion so I actually didn't have any English classes until I was 10. I just think it is a really neat program because we have SOOOOOO many Mandarin and Cantonese speakers in Vancouver. It would be very useful to have that as a second language here. That or Punjabi!

    I'll ask around about childcare for you. I didn't realize you'd lived in London! I would never have said Vancouver's expensive! Compared to London, Vancouver must be cheap. It seems to be a buyers market right now because so many people are selling homes. A decent house here would cost about 130 000$, but in Vancouver it would be a lot more (probably 200+). Gas is 60 cents a litre right now. I only spend about 150$ a month on food and I eat at the cafeteria a fair amount. I think nurses salaries are liveable here, and it is possible to increase your earnings with all the OT available.

    I was actually thinking of going to the Middle East, but I figured taking a dog would be out of the question and I couldn't leave my dog behind. She's like my child. It's the same for the UK. I didn't want to have her in quarantine for six months so I can't move there either. Oh well...
  10. by   Yvonne Kalla
    Hi Again

    I like the sound of the Chinese thing, I am all for children learning languages young, my husband is Arabic, so I already speak Arabic and inteand to teach my son, so if he learned Chinese as well that would be great, I think languages are a great asset in todays Global Market.

    Can I ask are you male ore female? Because when you said you wanted to do Midwifery I presumed you were female, but that isn't necessarily the case nowadays is it!

    As for your little pooch, I don't think there is any problem with taking dogs into the middle east. Where did you have in mind? I would recommend UAE, Oman and Bahrain as you have the benfit of tax free salary without any of the restrictions you have in Saudi. If you want any more info let me know.

    Bye for now, I'm off to mothers and toddlers!!
  11. by   fergus51
    I am a female. I would love to be able to speak Arabic. I speak French, but never use it and can get by in Czech, but use that even less.

    I was very interested in moving to the Middle East, I just wasn't sure about the immigration laws relating to pets. Do you know if it's really possible to move there with a dog? What about finding housing? I have also ben told that most Middle Easterners don't keep dogs as pets, but I have no idea if this is true or a generalization. Feel free to share any info on the Middle East! I'd love to hear about your experience there.

    I have to go take my dog for a walk while it is still warm! I think she would be better suited to a Middle Eastern climate!
  12. by   Yvonne Kalla
    Hi again, this is great fun! As for the weather, it get's pretty amn hot, but as I say everywhere is air-conditioned. As for Middle easterner not having dogs a pets I would have to agree that on the whole a dog is something not be kept in the house. My husband had a dog and if it got sneaked into the house my mother-in-law was on her hands and knees with the disinfectant!!

    I know lots of people had dogs, but mostly folk had cats as they are kept in the house more, but I suppose your little pooch is a home bird too.

    As for housing, when you get a job offer it will include housing, and all your electicity, furnishing etc, so the only thing you have to pay for is food and social life of which there is plenty. There is a hospital in Dubai, called Dubai American Hospital which employs Canadian Nurses, very good salary and lovley accomodation.

    I'll have to write more later as my little boy is not giving me peace to write!!!!


  13. by   fergus51
    Well, my dog is sort of cat like being that she is so tiny and has almost no coat. The poor thing hates winter. I am also thinking about litterbox training her so she wouldn't have to go outside. Anyways, I have to get to work,

    I have a querry in to a daycare. I'll let you know what they tell me.
  14. by   Yvonne Kalla

    Thanks for looking into daycare for me, that will be a great help. I am getting nervous now, interview is tomorrow, I am worried sick about what they might ask me. Do you think it is likely to be informal? What sort of things have you been asked in interview before?

    Unfortunately I have been scheduled to work nights so I finish tomorrow morning and have the interview tomorrow afternoon, I hope I can stay awake!!

    I'm going back to bed now, I'll let you know how I get on.